In the age of the glamour selfie, white teeth can seem like the ultimate prerequisite for social media popularity. But the key demographics chasing that perfect smile are not always young and self-obsessed.
Everyone from age 18 up can do with a whitening treatment. One group of people who might not realise how beneficial teeth whitening can be to their self-esteem and wellbeing are those in the over-50 age bracket. And yet this is a fantastic age group for getting it done.
It’s about understanding the reality that you’re not going to end up with that blindingly white, Hollywood smile that everybody thinks is fake, because often that’s just not what teeth whitening will do. It just brightens your teeth. It’s a bit like going getting your hair dyed. And it makes you look and feel about five or maybe 10 years younger!
If you do want the whiz-bang white, you’ve probably got to look at veneers. But if you’re just looking for a bit of a lift, to brightening things up, teeth whitening will do it. It’s like the spring clean for your mouth.
It can be particularly effective for the 50-plus patients who might be feeling a little off-colour. A bit of teeth whitening just makes you feel a little better on the inside, when you look in the mirror and see a brighter smile.
There are several different brands out there. I’ve tried a few, and I’m realistic with my patients about the outcomes. It can be unpredictable. We know certain tooth shades are going to brighten more than others. All our teeth are slightly different shade bases. Greyish-brown teeth are a little more challenging to whiten than yellowish teeth, which will often whiten nicely. Unfortunately with teeth whitening, you don’t know until you try.
There are two main methods we use. One is the in-chair system, where the patient sits in the chair for an hour and a half. During that time, we put on more concentrated bleaches than you can use at home, and we’ll definitely get a brightening up without any doubt. Another way is to do it at home using little mini mouth guards. I ask patients to wear them for about half an hour for about two to three weeks.
You’d probably get similar whitening with either system, but the gold standard, where the research is showing the very best results, is to have a session in the chair at my practice, to give the teeth whitening that initial boost, and then follow it up at home.
Teeth whitening results
I’ve certainly seen great results doing that with patients. Sometimes teeth have become discoloured over several years, so it’s pretty hard just to bring those back in an hour and a half. If you spend a bit longer and follow it up, you’ll definitely get them whiter.
The combined method is proving to be the best in my experience.