The Science Behind Teeth Whitening: Understanding the Process

White teeth and a brighter smile might be the end goal that connects the various whitening methods available on the market, but how do we get there?

With so many different methods for teeth whitening available, from the natural remedies to DIY and at-home kits, through to professional treatments and services at renowned dental clinics, understanding the science of teeth whitening means first recognising what causes teeth to become stained and discoloured. 

And that’s exactly where this blog starts. 

What causes teeth to become discoloured?

There are a number of things that can cause teeth to become discoloured, the majority of which fall under one of three categories

Extrinsic discolouration is caused by stains on the surface of the tooth. These are the easiest stains and signs of discolouration to treat and remove, because they only affect the outer enamel of the tooth. Typically, this kind of discolouration is caused by food and beverages – think red wine, coffee, and other lifestyle choices, such as smoking. 

Intrinsic stains are the opposite, with the discolouration coming from inside the tooth. With intrinsic discolouration, it tends to be the dentin underneath the enamel which has become stained, making this kind of issue more resistant to over-the-counter whitening kits, and more difficult to treat through natural remedies. Some of the common causes of intrinsic stains include tooth decay, trauma or injury to the tooth, and some medications.

And then, we have age-related staining, which is simply caused by the enamel on your teeth starting to wear away. This can leave teeth with a yellow hue.

So, now that we know a little more about what causes teeth to become stained, discoloured, and in need of whitening treatment – how do we achieve a picture-perfect smile?

A guide to laser teeth whitening

Laser teeth whitening is the more effective method of brightening your smile, as it combines the expertise and experience of trained dentists, a potent bleaching agent, and the power of a laser to activate the ingredients and lighten your teeth to the ideal shade. 

The process of laser teeth whitening starts with a consultation, during which you will be encouraged to discuss your ideal results and the shade that you hope to reach through treatment. Taking a shade sample of your teeth as they are, we demonstrate what your final shade could be through a comprehensive whitening treatment – highlighting the importance of proper aftercare in maintaining the results. This is designed to facilitate complete transparency and ensure that clients are happy with the process and the projected outcome. 

The next step is a thorough cleaning, using an activator which prepares the teeth for the laser treatment. This is followed by a layer of a whitening agent, before a mouth guard is placed over the teeth and a blue spectrum LED light shone onto the teeth. The laser is used in short blasts of around 20-30 minutes, with two or three cycles required depending on the client.

This is where it gets a little more scientific, with the choice of a blue spectrum LED light specifically selected as the most effective wavelength to initiate and activate the whitening agent without damaging the teeth. There is a fine balance between attacking the stains on teeth and impacting or damaging the enamel itself, with blue spectrum light the best go-to for brighter teeth that are still strong and healthy.

The final step of the process is to verify the results of your whitening treatment and show you the comparison between your original shade and the new shade – before inviting you to showcase your brand-new smile and enjoy your new-found confidence. 

The full process shouldn’t take more than an hour – leaving you with instant results and a smile to be proud of. 

How do DIY and natural remedies support teeth whitening?

In comparison with professional teeth whitening, DIY and natural remedies are neither as potent nor as guaranteed as the use of a proper laser and whitening agent. Generally, natural remedies are good for those who want to maintain whiter teeth, as they help to remove any residual discolouration from meals and drinks, while DIY and at-home whitening kits can be minimally effective – best used in cases of minor discolouration. 

On the whole, professional teeth whitening is grounded in scientific research and has the backing of a professional dentist, who can talk you through not only the process itself but the projected results and how to maintain them. Which is where the next question in this blog comes in…

Does teeth whitening last a long time?

The success and sustainability of your brighter smile depends on a number of things, including the potency of the whitening treatment and your approach to aftercare and long-term dental hygiene. 

Professional teeth whitening is considered the most sustainable method, primarily because it combines a potent and powerful whitening agent with the support of a dental specialist, who will use the laser to ensure that your ideal results are met. However, even professional whitening treatment requires proper aftercare if you want your results to last.

This aftercare includes the following:

  • Drinking less coffee, and drinking a glass of water after coffee and other drinks known to stain the teeth, where possible
  • Drinking red wine with caution, again consuming water directly after, where possible
  • Cutting out smoking, as tobacco can have a debilitating effect on teeth whitening results
  • Adopting an effective dental routine, which includes regular brushing, flossing, and trips to the dentist
  • Eating a healthy and balanced diet full of those ingredients that act as natural cleansers for the mouth and teeth

Teeth whitening is safe when carried out by a trained dentist in a proper facility, with results that can last upwards of two years when you follow the correct level of aftercare.

For more information on teeth whitening, including prices and the questions that clients regularly ask, head to the Harley Teeth Whitening homepage, or get in touch with your local dentist directly.

Natural Teeth Whitening Remedies: Do They Work?

With so many clients coming to us in search of a broader, brighter smile, it’s safe to say that teeth whitening is a big part of what we do. And, while the professional whitening service that we offer is commonly recognised as the most effective and efficient means of brightening your smile, there are a number of natural remedies which offer varying degrees of success.

In this blog, we’re looking at some of the top natural teeth whitening remedies, assessing the results they offer and the different things to consider, before sharing the benefits of professional teeth whitening. 

What are natural teeth whitening remedies?

Natural teeth whitening remedies are those solutions which don’t require specific treatment or the use of whitening products – rather, they rely on foods, drinks, and other natural ingredients to brighten the teeth. Generally, these remedies use ingredients that contain natural acids (such as those which are found in some fruits) and other whitening agents, like charcoal and baking soda, to polish the teeth. 

Natural remedies are not the same as DIY and at-home whitening solutions, which we will explore in a little more detail later in this blog, and which can commonly be purchased on the dental hygiene market.

The top natural remedies for whiter, brighter teeth

With that said, what are the top and most popular natural remedies to achieve whiter and brighter teeth?


Starting with one of the most specific products on our list of natural whitening remedies, pineapple contains a high level of enzymes which, far from whitening the teeth, help to minimise the impact of stains on the teeth. Rather than reversing the effects of existing stains, consuming pineapple may well help to protect your teeth from further stains by loosening the plaque that causes teeth to appear discoloured. 

Apple cider vinegar

Packed with potential health benefits, apple cider vinegar is a fermented natural product that is said to be full of probiotics. But is it any good for whitening your teeth?

As touched on earlier in this blog, apple cider vinegar contains a high level of natural fruit acids, which do help to wear away stains left on the enamel of your teeth. However, this same natural remedy is also responsible for wearing away the enamel itself, with excessive exposure to the acidic ingredients only serving to cause more damage and exacerbate signs of tooth decay and other issues. 

So, while there may be some whitening benefits associated with apple cider vinegar, it is not a product that we recommend swilling too often. 

Crunchy vegetables

Crunchy vegetables, like celery and cucumber, are regularly linked with a healthy and balanced diet – but what benefits do they bring to your dental hygiene and the appearance of your teeth?

Well, some say that eating crunchy vegetables acts as a form of natural teeth cleaning, scrubbing plaque away from the surface of the teeth while dislodging any foods that become stuck between the teeth. However, more likely than that is the high water content in these ingredients, which naturally cleanses the teeth during and after eating. 

With that in mind, you are likely to induce the same benefits through increased consumption of water, rinsing the mouth during and after meals. 

Baking soda

Not so much something you eat but more a natural remedy that can be used to make your own whitening paste. Baking soda has become a natural hero in the world of dentistry, and is used in a number of popular branded toothpastes – but how effective is it as an ingredient found in your kitchen cupboard? 

Well, baking soda is an alkaline compound that acts as a mild scrub, meaning that it can be used to wear away stains on the teeth without damaging the enamel. What’s more, as well as reducing stains on the teeth, baking soda’s alkaline levels leave your mouth healthy and clean, which makes it less likely for harmful bacteria to settle and spread. 

How professional teeth whitening compares with natural remedies

There are some natural remedies that are more potent and effective than others. And, while some of them are harmless if not super effective, others can be more damaging than you might believe if used to excess – for example, apple cider vinegar and high-acidity fruits. 

Professional teeth whitening balances effective results with safe practices, under the supervision of trained dental experts, who are as committed to sustainable dental health and hygiene as they are to teeth whitening. Professional whitening treatment tends to use a special paste that is applied to the teeth, before a laser is shone on the teeth. This laser activates the ingredients in the paste, breaking down surface stains and bleaching the dentin that lies underneath the enamel on each tooth, leaving a whiter finish. 

While a more costly solution than the natural remedies explored above, professional teeth whitening is regularly cited as the most effective method for clients of all ages. But what about the DIY and at-home whitening kits that you can buy?

DIY and at-home teeth whitening – does it work?

DIY and at-home whitening kits tend to sit somewhere between natural remedies and professional treatment options, using the same ingredients and techniques as professional treatments but in a diluted and less potent way. 

As such, most at-home kits don’t contain enough bleaching agent to be truly effective – and, without proper care and attention, can cause more harm than good. That’s why, as a general rule, it is always best to seek professional advice prior to any teeth whitening treatment. 

Identifying the best solution for you

The right solution for you will depend on your budget and the amount of discolouration that you hope to reverse through whitening treatment. Natural remedies can be an ideal way to brighten the teeth, while more intensely discoloured teeth tend to only respond to more potent treatment, as conducted by a professional. 

For more advice on teeth whitening and to discover the different treatment packages available, get in touch with your local dentist.

The Psychology of a Whiter Smile: Boosting Confidence and Self-Esteem

There are all sorts of reasons why it’s important to practise good dental hygiene. Not only does regular brushing and oral hygiene maintenance keep your breath fresh for those around you, but it minimises the chance of plaque and bacteria build-up, meaning that it is good for your overall health and wellbeing as well.

But, of course, for many of our clients, all the underlying benefits are superseded by the aesthetics of a good dental routine – namely their search for a whiter smile.

The fact is that, when our teeth are whiter, we smile more; we feel more confident, and our self-esteem lifts. Which is why taking steps to boost our dental routine and research both natural and artificial teeth whitening solutions is such a hot topic of conversation.

But, before we share some advice on how to help your teeth benefit from a gleaming white sheen, let’s look a little closer at the psychology of a whiter smile and how it helps us to feel more confident. 

Why does having a whiter smile make us feel more confident?

Colgate, one of the leading dental brands in the world, talks about how smiles are affected by psychology – so much so that we generally have three different types of smiles. The first is a spontaneous smile, when something makes us happy; the second is a social smile that we put on for those around us; and the third is an emotional smile, which shows those around us what we are really thinking or feeling.

Crucially, the intensity of these smiles and the regularity with which we show them varies based on our confidence. That’s why those who do not boast the same levels of self-esteem will typically exude a closed-mouth smile, or one which is not as bright. 

Of course, it’s not all to do with the colour and shine of our teeth. Many of us simply don’t express joy in the same way, or feel conscious of other things beyond the colour of our teeth. That’s why, while this blog is about the psychology of a white smile and how to boost the shine of your own teeth, it’s just as important to spend time smiling and boosting your own confidence. After all, they say that simply making the choice to smile, even when you don’t feel like it, can instantly make you feel a little more positive. 

How to get a whiter smile naturally

There are a few different ways of achieving whiter teeth. The first that we are going to consider is the natural remedies, from the impact of good dental hygiene to the value of foods that are said to help contribute towards a brighter smile. 

The impact of a good dental hygiene routine

Cleaning your teeth twice a day, flossing, and visiting the dentist regularly are all crucial in sustaining good oral hygiene – which is not just good for the aesthetics of your teeth but also for your overall health and wellbeing. 

When you brush your teeth regularly and floss properly between your teeth, you remove any build-up of food and plaque that creates unsightly discolouration around the base of and in between the teeth. Good oral hygiene is also necessary for minimising the need for dental work, including fillings, and can help to lessen the chance of tooth decay. 

Foods which promote whiter teeth

Food and drink are a double-edged sword when it comes to whiter teeth and a healthier smile, not least because eating the wrong things – and too much of them – can exacerbate underlying issues and cause the enamel of the teeth to become stained or damaged. 

For the most part, it’s advised to avoid too much sugar – with other things to avoid including coffee, red wine, and some berries, which can cause lasting stains on the surface of the teeth if consumed to excess. 

In terms of promoting a whiter smile, some of the recommended foods include the following:

  • Naturally crunchy foods. Not only are some crunchy vegetables, like cucumber and celery, packed full of water, but they help to dislodge other food that may be sitting between the teeth, and they act as a natural toothbrush between other courses. 
  • Dairy products. Did you know that increasing your dairy intake can help to keep your teeth shiny and white? This is because the lactic acid helps to protect the enamel on your teeth from decaying, thus acting as another layer of protection for the dentin beneath, which affects the colour of your teeth. 
  • Acidic foods – but in moderation. Acidic foods may be known for weakening the enamel on the teeth (which is of course not good), but in moderation they can actually increase the saliva production in the mouth, which helps to wash away the remnants of food and leave you with a gleaming smile. 
  • Water. Need we say more? Drinking more water is good for every part of your body, from your teeth to your heart and beyond. 

With that in mind, how does professional teeth whitening compare with the more natural solutions?

The benefits of professional teeth whitening

If it’s efficient teeth whitening that you want, then a professional service is of course the best and most effective method. Combining industry-leading laser technology with a whitening paste that is applied to the teeth and then held under the laser to create the reaction which whitens the teeth, professional services are not necessarily cheap, but they do work. 

And, if the cost is something that you are considering, then look at professional teeth whitening as an investment – into both your self-confidence and your personal and professional image. Those who smile more are seen as having a higher self-esteem, which can bring with it workplace benefits as well as personal ones. 

For more information on teeth whitening, to find out if professional services are right for you, or for tailored advice on your own dental hygiene routine, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your local dentist.

The Connection Between Dental Hygiene and Overall Health

There are many reasons why it’s important to stay on top of your oral health, keep your teeth clean, and visit your dentist on a regular basis. First and foremost, as an adult, you only get one full set of natural teeth – and once they’re gone, or damaged, or broken, then that’s it. 

Secondly, oral hygiene contributes towards the maintenance of a gleaming white smile – and for most of us, that smile is directly connected with self-confidence and how we feel about our own reflection.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, dental hygiene is intrinsically linked with overall health – not just in relation to gum disease and other localised issues in and around the mouth, but spanning the entire body. In fact, contrary to popular belief, gum disease is directly connected with a vast array of other issues and diseases, affecting the heart, lungs, blood, and even the brain.

In this blog, we’re looking at the importance of dental hygiene through the lens of your overall health and wellbeing – sharing the conditions that gum disease and bad dental hygiene can contribute towards. 

Why is oral hygiene so closely linked with the rest of the body?

Oral hygiene is an interesting area to study, primarily because the mouth is the body’s window – and most obvious entry point – to the outside world. Bacteria is rife in and around the mouth, and when you don’t practise good oral hygiene and effective teeth cleaning to keep on top of that bacteria and to keep it at bay, it can lead to issues such as gum disease, tooth decay, and worse. 

The fact is that, when you aren’t taking the steps to alleviate and rid the mouth of bacteria, that bacteria multiplies and makes its way into the body directly. This impacts the body’s natural defences, exposing you to increased issues, while minimising the body’s ability to fight the spread of bacteria further. 

And it’s not just bad oral hygiene that exacerbates and leads to other issues in the body – the same is true of the reverse. 

There are some conditions that our clients and patients live with that impact oral hygiene. For example, if someone is living with diabetes, which reduces their natural ability to fight infection, they are more prone to issues like gum disease, which in turn creates more issues for their overall health.

To cut a long story short, a lack of dental hygiene can have a serious and debilitating effect on your overall health and wellbeing – but that’s not to say that there aren’t existing conditions that play their own role in halting good dental hygiene.

Keep reading to find out some of the conditions and issues that can be caused or exacerbated by poor dental hygiene, before learning some tips to keep your mouth – and body – in the best possible health.

What conditions and diseases are impacted by bad oral hygiene?

Health challenges can occur, or be made worse, when poor oral hygiene allows bacteria to enter the body – travelling via the bloodstream to different areas of the body. 

One of the more serious conditions that is linked to poor oral hygiene is heart disease. A study conducted by the British Heart Foundation found that those with moderate gum disease were up to 69% more likely to develop coronary heart disease, through the portal of increased exposure to diabetes. This is because, when the body is fighting or experiencing gum disease, its natural defences are lowered, and it becomes harder to control your blood sugar – not to mention that the increase in bacteria on and around the teeth allows bacteria to enter and travel through the bloodstream. Once in the heart, this bacteria can cause inflammation that increases the damage to blood vessels – leading to, or worsening, heart issues. 

This also links to a condition called endocarditis, which is inflammation of the lining of the heart through infection. This can be fatal if left untreated, and is directly connected to dental bacteria specifically. 

Other conditions that are known to be linked with poor oral and dental hygiene include pneumonia and birth complications. Pneumonia and other respiratory diseases are caused by the bacteria being drawn down into the lungs, directly infecting and causing inflammation throughout the body’s breathing systems. 

And, to return to the reverse for a moment, all of this is made worse when conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes are also seen in the patient or individual – because such conditions make good oral hygiene even more difficult to maintain. This creates a cause-and-effect cycle of damage when left unresolved. 

Tips to enhance your dental hygiene for the sake of your wellbeing

So, how can you take control of your dental hygiene and improve your overall wellbeing?

The most obvious thing to do is adopt a dental hygiene routine, which includes brushing your teeth thoroughly twice a day, for at least two minutes. Using a fluoride toothpaste is important to secure the best possible clean, while flossing removes plaque and helps to minimise the risk of a plaque and bacteria build-up affecting the enamel and natural barrier on your teeth. 

Another recommended tip is to visit your dentist regularly, so that any structural issues with your teeth can be treated effectively to minimise further damage and bacteria from getting into your bloodstream. Fillings and crowns can be fitted to ensure that enamel damage does not allow harmful bacteria to penetrate the tooth and cause pain as well as other health conditions. 

Finally, a change to daily habits and an acknowledgement of the significance of a healthy and balanced diet is important for retaining and maintaining the health of your teeth throughout adulthood. Sugary foods should be minimised where possible, and your teeth should be cleaned after consuming very acidic foods and drinks that can affect the stability of the protective enamel on your teeth.

If you’re in any doubt about the effectiveness of your own oral hygiene routine, or you need specific advice and support for underlying issues or conditions, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local dentist. 

Maintaining Oral Hygiene with Clear Braces – Tips and Best Practices

Oral hygiene isn’t just key to achieving a perfect Hollywood smile and ensuring that your breath is always minty fresh when spending time with loved ones, friends, and perfect strangers. It is also integral to overall health, with oral hygiene connected to everything from gum disease and tooth decay to heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. 

This is because, when you don’t maintain a proper oral hygiene routine, which focuses on brushing properly, flossing, and visiting the dentist on a regular basis, bacteria is given the perfect habitat in which to thrive, build up, and multiply. This bacteria, when it is allowed to build up, leads to infections and inflammation of the gums that surround your teeth – spreading to the rest of the body with alarming ease. 

Of course, for those facing orthodontic work, oral hygiene becomes somewhat more challenging to navigate. Braces, which are fixed to the teeth and connected via a wire that is tightened regularly, create a literal barrier between your cleaning tools and your teeth – making oral hygiene more difficult. Despite this, maintaining good oral hygiene throughout the treatment process is crucial, not just to ensure the best results, but to support your overall health and wellbeing as well. 

In this blog, we’re looking at the benefits of clear braces before diving into the tips and best practices to maintain oral hygiene throughout treatment. 

What are clear aligners vs clear braces?

Clear aligners and clear braces are two different things. Clear aligners have been engineered as an orthodontic alternative, which sees patients fitted with a series of aligners that are worn for up to 22 hours per day, and which gradually straighten the alignment of the teeth. Every week or so, the aligner is changed to continue the movement of the teeth, until the final position is reached. 

Clear braces, on the other hand, are fixed to the teeth as clear boxes – connected by a wire, which is tightened on the same kind of regular basis to keep up with and facilitate non-stop movement of the teeth. The idea of both clear braces and clear aligners is the same, but while aligners can be removed completely and cleaned independently from the mouth, clear braces are fixed to the teeth, and so must be cleaned as part of your oral hygiene routine.

The benefits of clear braces

In terms of the benefits of clear braces and why so many adults are getting in touch to discuss their eligibility for the treatment, the answer is two-fold. 

Firstly, clear braces are designed to remain in place until the ideal results have been achieved – with the patient or client unable to remove or get in the way of their own treatment. Regular visits to the dentist allow the wire to be tightened for continuous aligning of the teeth, pulling them back into the desired position under the watchful monitoring of your dentist. 

The fact that the boxes fixed to the teeth are clear, meanwhile, means that the braces are not as visible, which is the main reason why these are so popular with adult users. Far from the colourful boxes of childhood braces, this alternative for adults is carefully designed to blend against the teeth – with the decision to keep the boxes clear meaning that they match the colour and tone of your natural teeth with ease. 

With that said, how do you keep them clean and maintain your oral health throughout the treatment process?

How to maintain oral hygiene with clear braces

It’s just as important to clean around and underneath the wire as it is to clean the surface of the teeth. Not only should you be focussed on removing plaque and bacteria, but you also need to keep the surface of your teeth clean to ensure that you are not left with white boxes once the brace is removed. While teeth whitening services can go some way to perfecting and reinstating a gleaming white smile after orthodontic and aligning treatment, taking the time to clean your teeth effectively and regularly is important. 

Some of the best ways to maintain oral hygiene during your clear brace treatment include:

  • Brushing your teeth after every meal or snack, to ensure that any food that gets stuck around or beneath the wire can be dislodged quickly
  • Brushing with a soft bristle brush at an angle, to ensure that the brush reaches up and under the wire
  • Flossing daily 
  • Brushing on top of and beneath the brackets, taking the time to reach up under the wire as well
  • Cleaning around the gums with your soft bristle brush, to ensure that any build-up of bacteria is effectively removed
  • Using a mouthwash that contains fluoride twice per day to keep your mouth fresh

Achieving a picture-perfect smile with clear braces

There are so many benefits to clear braces, not just in terms of the process, but regarding the results and how long they last. Clear braces are designed to definitively and effectively move the teeth into your desired position, with retainer braces prescribed upon removal of the fixed brace to ensure that teeth don’t revert back to their original position.

With the right care and attention, and the maintenance of a good oral hygiene routine throughout the treatment process, you can achieve a picture-perfect smile that is straighter and shinier than ever before. 

To end with a few final tips and words of advice, remember that, when caring for and maintaining your teeth under a fixed brace, it’s not just the cleaning you need to focus on. Avoiding certain foods and drinks is just as important if you want to maintain good oral health – for example steering clear of sticky and very chewy foods, which can get stuck around the brackets and wire, and limiting your intake of sugary foods, which can damage the enamel of your teeth and leave you with a cavity problem. 

Caring for your teeth doesn’t have to be more difficult with a fixed clear brace in place. Get in touch with your dentist directly for tailored guidance and advice.

The Role of Dental Hygienists – Keeping Smiles Healthy

If there’s one area of dentistry which we believe is widely underrepresented, it’s the role of the dental hygienist. Often overlooked and encompassed under the umbrella term of “going to the dentist”, your dental hygienist actually fulfils a very important role of their own, covering a series of preventative measures that are designed, in short, to save you from requiring too much work from the dentist themselves. 

If you book twice-yearly check-ups at the dentist, the likelihood is that you will see the dentist first and then the dental hygienist – or the other way around. The dentist is the one who looks at the structure and stability of your teeth as a whole, earmarking potential damage and performing procedures that include but are not limited to fillings, tooth removal, fitting braces, installing dental implants, and more. The dental hygienist, meanwhile, is responsible for all things oral hygiene. 

The latter role is designed to empower you, the patient, with knowledge and insight into how important oral hygiene is to keep your mouth healthy and your teeth in excellent condition. Keep reading to find out more about the procedures that dental hygienists can and do perform, and why their role is so important. 

Do you need to see a dental hygienist regularly?

In short, yes. The dental hygienist is experienced in all things oral hygiene, and can connect your own dental routine with the health of your mouth and how clean your teeth are – both across the front surface, which can easily be seen, and across the back and sides of your teeth, which are not as visible. 

One of the most important things about a dental hygienist, and why seeing one regularly is so important, is that dental hygienists are often among the first to pick up on signs of something being wrong. While you might only see the dentist once a year or when something is wrong with your teeth, the dental hygienist is a more regular appointment, which can flag up early signs and symptoms of issues like gum disease and pending cavities. They can also recommend how best to overcome issues like bad breath, can offer advice on how to clear the harder to reach spots in your mouth, and can make early connections between other health conditions and your oral hygiene and health. 

What does a dental hygienist do during a standard appointment?

A dental hygienist appointment is all about checking in on your dental health and oral hygiene. Generally, the dental hygienist will check around the outside and inside of your mouth for any signs that you have an underlying condition to be concerned about, and will then probe your gums and check around the back and sides of your teeth to see if there is any plaque or bacteria that needs to be removed.

Most patients will be asked by the hygienist about their oral routine, how often they brush their teeth, and whether they floss regularly. This is not a quiz, and it’s important to recognise that they are not trying to catch you out – rather, they are asking so that they can provide you with the best possible advice to counteract any issues you have and to keep your teeth in the best possible condition in the long run. 

They will then use a combination of tools to complete a scale and polish, during which you may be aware of them scratching at the gaps between your teeth. This procedure helps to remove any plaque which has built up and which has been missed by brushing and flossing alone, before then polishing the teeth to leave them gleaming. 

Most dental hygienist appointments finish with the hygienist giving you advice on how best to maintain your clean teeth, and what to add to or change about your oral-health routine. They will then let you know how soon you should book your next appointment. 

The difference between a dental hygienist and a dentist

The two roles may get grouped together by patients, but actually the roles of a dentist and a dental hygienist are incredibly different. Your dentist is the one who can diagnose and then treat underlying conditions that may be causing sensitivity, pain, or even missing teeth. They can secure x-rays of your mouth to help with orthodontic work and prescriptions, can administer medications, and can perform specialised procedures to stabilise your teeth.

A dental hygienist is able to provide an in-depth clean, and is as much a resource for oral-hygiene education as they are a hands-on part of your next dental check-up. They tend to focus on plaque and other build-up, and will discuss issues like flossing and regular brushing with patients to ensure that they are maximising their own oral health and hygiene. In addition, a dental hygienist can also apply topical fluoride to areas of high sensitivity, and will be able to advise on the best things you can do at home to minimise irritation, to alleviate existing sensitivity, and to transform your smile to make it whiter and brighter. 

Why is the dental hygienist role so important?

If you don’t see a dental hygienist regularly for an update on your oral hygiene, for removal of plaque and build-up, and for an overall scale and polish, then the chances are that you will require more severe dental work sooner. 

When plaque is allowed to build up and the teeth are not effectively flossed and cleaned using professional-grade equipment – as well as at-home treatment – you will find that you start to develop other issues, such as gum disease and tooth cavities. 

With all that in mind, it’s time to ask yourself a question – have you seen a dental hygienist recently? Booking an appointment sooner rather than later is one of the best ways of taking back control over your oral hygiene and ensuring that the steps you are taking to maximise your own health and wellbeing are working for you and for your teeth.

How Do Clear Dental Braces Work? The Science Behind Straighter Smiles

As a teeth-whitening specialist located in London, we are no stranger to clients coming in seeking the perfect Hollywood smile. Recognising that whiter and brighter teeth lead to enhanced confidence and a wider smile, we work with clients of all ages to break down surface stains and refresh the look and feel of their teeth. 

But even the most potent of whitening treatments can’t fix a wonky smile – which is where our clear dental braces come in.

Offering a way for adult patients to align and straighten their teeth, clear braces use the same overarching process as traditional train-track braces – only, instead of metal boxes fixed to the teeth, they use a clear bracket. The idea is that this clear bracket is much less obvious than a standard metal brace, and so is a more attractive offer for adults who want to blend orthodontic treatment with their regular routine. 

So, how do clear braces work, how do they differ from invisible aligners, and why are clear braces the recommended treatment option for our patients at Harley Teeth Whitening? Keep reading to find out. 

What are clear braces and how do they work?

Clear braces follow the same design and process as traditional braces that are prescribed to teenagers and young adults whose teeth need straightening. The main difference is that clear braces are made with brackets and wires that blend into rather than stand out from your teeth, making them less noticeable.

The process of wearing a clear brace is a gradual one. Your dentist will fit the brackets onto each tooth and connect them with a wire. This wire is tightened every couple of weeks, gently and gradually pulling the teeth into their desired position. Once the desired position has been reached, the brace can be removed – with your dentist then providing you with a retainer, which should be worn at night to prevent any movement of the teeth back to their original position. 

Of course, there are things to take into account before having a clear brace fitted. The first is that the brackets may not be highly visible, but they can impede on everyday tasks, including brushing, flossing, and even eating and drinking. Many patients find that they need to change their approach to dental hygiene when living with a clear brace, and that eating certain foods is off limits throughout the process.

The other thing that’s important to note for all adult patients is that braces are only free for those under the age of 18. If you need a clear brace as an adult, whether you visit us at Harley Teeth Whitening or visit an NHS dentist, you will need to pay for the treatment. 

Clear braces vs. invisible aligners – what’s the difference?

Now that you know a little more about clear braces and how they work, let’s compare them to invisible aligners. Aligners have become one of the most popular methods of teeth straightening on the market, particularly for adults who are seeking a non-invasive, convenient, and efficient means of perfecting their smile. 

Invisible aligners are created specifically for your teeth, first fitting your teeth in their original position and then gradually manipulating the teeth as you change aligner every week or two. The idea is that, by the time your teeth have adjusted to the new position, you change aligner again to continue adjusting and straightening the teeth. The final aligner is fixed in the position of your desired smile and can be worn for longer than the previous retainers to ensure that your teeth do not revert to their original position.

The main difference between this process and that of clear braces is that aligners can be removed, and so it is up to the patient to be disciplined and ensure that they wear them often enough and regularly enough to have a positive impact on their teeth. Aligners might allow for eating and brushing on normal, uninterrupted teeth, but the results are not guaranteed unless you commit to wearing them for at least 22 hours per day, every day. 

Similarly, aligners are expensive but are not always strong enough to adjust and move teeth with more serious misalignment issues, with only a sturdy brace fitting able to straighten teeth that have been left in place for years. 

And that’s where the benefits of clear braces really come in.

The benefits of a clear brace and why we offer this treatment as standard

For us, clear braces are the obvious solution, because they combine the low visibility with optimum results. Patients are fitted with brackets on their teeth, which cannot be removed without dentist intervention – meaning that there is no way a patient can interrupt their own treatment. 

The wires are tightened regularly to ensure that the teeth never settle into position but keep moving until the desired finish is reached. This means that your braces will do all the work once fitted – all with careful consideration around aesthetics, using clear brackets and a tooth-coloured wire, to minimise the appearance of your braces and to help you achieve a picture-perfect smile with ease. 

Finally, it’s worth noting that clear braces are able to straighten and align even the wonkiest of teeth – making this the ideal treatment option for those with more severe cases, where invisible aligners are unlikely to work. And, with the help and support of your dentist, you can access advice on how to keep your teeth pearly white and sparkling, even while fitted with a clear brace. 

Are you a good candidate for clear braces?

Clear braces are recommended for adults who want to straighten their teeth and achieve a perfect Hollywood smile, with the convenience of the brace combined with its clear design and minimal visibility. 

If you have good oral health but are living with misaligned teeth, an overbite, an underbite, or an uneven smile, and want to fix or align it, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with your local team and discuss the benefits of clear braces.

Teeth Whitening for Sensitive Teeth – What You Need to Know

Sensitive teeth are one of those common issues which creates a vicious circle for endless patients – keeping them away from the dentist for fear of experiencing discomfort, even though the very issue they’re living with could be alleviated with help from a dental professional.

The number of patients who cancel dental appointments because of sensitive teeth is higher than you might think. Having said that, there’s no reason to let sensitive teeth affect your dental treatment – whether it be a regular check-up, orthodontic work, or even teeth whitening. 

In this blog, we’re discussing one of the most common questions we get asked by those with sensitive teeth – whether they can still access teeth-whitening treatment. In short, the answer is yes – and here’s why.

What causes sensitive teeth?

Before we talk about the specifics of sensitive teeth and teeth whitening, it is first important to discuss what causes sensitive teeth. 

In the simplest possible terms, sensitive teeth occur when the layer of dentine inside your tooth or teeth is exposed. This is generally caused by the enamel on the outside of the tooth wearing away, either as a result of over brushing or a lack of general oral care and hygiene. 

This layer of dentine is covered with tiny holes that burrow right down to the central nerve of the tooth. When the dentine is left unprotected, these holes are also unprotected, which means that anything that comes into contact with the tooth is also able to contact and irritate the nerve – causing that sensitivity that we are all so familiar with. That’s why, when you drink something hot or cold, bite down on something hard, or grind your teeth too much, it can cause pain and sensitivity. 

Of course, there are other causes of sensitive teeth which could be at play – including gum disease, a cracked tooth, or outer damage to the enamel of the tooth that requires a filling. All of these are issues which can be diagnosed and treated by your dentist – a major reason why avoiding the dentist if you have sensitive teeth is a bad idea! 

The teeth-whitening process and how we minimise discomfort

When conducted in a professional dentistry setting, teeth whitening is achieved with a paste and a direct laser. The paste is first applied to the teeth at the desired concentration, to achieve the results discussed at your consultation. A laser is then used to activate the ingredients within the paste, creating an effective and efficient means of whitening the teeth. 

This works by first penetrating the structure of each tooth, and then attacking and ultimately removing the stains that are spread across the dentin of each individual tooth. 

Now, you may have noticed that both teeth whitening and teeth sensitivity revolve around the dentin – and it’s here that the issue exists. Because, while breaking down the stains on each tooth’s dentin layer is what helps to create that whitening effect, it is this same layer that causes sensitivity. Thus, if you experience sensitivity or have experienced sensitivity with teeth whitening in the past, then it might be that the bleach used in whitening pastes is what causes irritation to the dentin. To counteract this, your dentist can simply dilute or use less of the bleaching agent.

Does teeth-whitening treatment cause sensitive teeth?

If you have not experienced any sensitivity previously, but find after your whitening treatment that your teeth feel sensitive or achy, it could be that the bleach in the paste has irritated the layer of dentin in your teeth. A relatively common occurrence, most patients find that this discomfort should disappear on its own after a day or two. 

If you have an existing issue with exposed dentin and are aware that you suffer from tooth sensitivity as a result of worn-away enamel, there are steps you can take – including selecting specific teeth-whitening treatments that do not use any kind of peroxide or bleach. Over-the-counter remedies are a good place to start, or you can discuss your concerns with your dentist, who will then be able to recommend the best course of action based on your requirements.

How to alleviate sensitive teeth

If sensitive teeth are an issue you are struggling with or have struggled with in the past, there are things you can do to minimise discomfort. 

Sensitive toothpastes often contain higher levels of fluoride, which helps to strengthen the natural layer of enamel on your teeth and can help to reduce discomfort and pain. Adding fluoride to affected teeth is also something that a dentist can administer directly, for faster-acting relief.

Those suffering with sensitive teeth are also advised to steer clear of very hot and very cold drinks and foods, as these exacerbate the issue and can cause irritation to the affected teeth. Similarly, avoiding very acidic foods and drinks is recommended, including certain fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients. 

Wearing a mouth guard, particularly at night, is a good way of ensuring that you do not irritate the teeth further with unconscious grinding or biting down hard on the sensitive teeth, and you can also swap your toothbrush for one with a softer bristle to alleviate and avoid unnecessary irritation. 

Seeking help and advice from a professional dentist

Sensitive teeth do not have to prevent you from accessing any of the standard dental treatments, including teeth whitening and other aesthetic solutions. With professional dentists able to adjust and adapt treatment plans according to your specific needs and concerns, just be sure to mention any sensitivity when booking your treatment, and discuss with them the best way to alleviate and minimise any discomfort.

Here at Harley Teeth Whitening, we offer whitening services to patients of all ages and backgrounds – sensitive teeth and all. Get in touch to find out more, or reach out to us for more guidance on how to live with sensitive teeth and make your everyday routine more comfortable. 

The Pros and Cons of Over-the-Counter Teeth-Whitening Products

There’s a lot to be said for teeth whitening, regardless of how you achieve it. Not only does it give you a brighter, whiter smile, but it also provides a boost to your confidence – something which many clients are motivated by when they visit us and ask for more information about our whitening treatments.

With both professional and over-the-counter solutions available, knowing which to opt for can be tough, with clients needing to compare everything from cost to the projected results in order to work out which is best for them. 

In this blog, we’re doing some of the hard work for you by comparing professional teeth whitening with a DIY approach, and assessing the pros and cons of over-the-counter products in your search for a brighter smile. 

What are over-the-counter teeth-whitening products?

Before we can really dig deep into the pros and cons of DIY and at-home teeth-whitening products, we first need to understand a little more about what they are and what they involve.

These products cover a few different segments of the market, encompassing natural remedies as well as whitening toothpastes and more targeted kits that promise whiter teeth through regular or prolonged use. Some of the methods available include strips that are laid over the teeth, and pastes that are applied to the teeth – and it’s here that we uncover the most significant difference between over-the-counter and professional whitening treatments.

What is the biggest difference between professional and DIY whitening?

When you book a professional teeth-whitening treatment, you will first notice that the process is conducted by a trained dentist. They will apply a whitening agent to your teeth, and will then use a laser to activate the ingredients in the paste, with a targeted beam of light that is shone directly onto the teeth for a predetermined amount of time. The ingredients in these pastes are incredibly potent and generate results which are not only highly effective, but which last for a long time.

DIY and over-the-counter methods of teeth whitening, on the other hand, are not performed by a trained dentist – nor do they involve the use of a laser to activate the ingredients. Instead, a highly diluted version of the product is administered at home by the buyer, which means that, even if a teeth-whitening product contains the same effective ingredients as a professional kit, the results are highly unlikely to be as effective or as long lasting. 

Thus, the biggest difference between professional and DIY whitening is the level of results that you will get, and the longevity of those results – though it’s important to note that neither solution has any effect on your underlying oral health. After all, whiter teeth don’t necessarily mean a healthier mouth. 

The pros of over-the-counter teeth-whitening products

Now that we know a little more about teeth whitening as an overarching process, and how DIY and over-the-counter treatments differ from the professional ones, it’s time to uncover some of the benefits of keeping your treatment plan at home. 

Perhaps the most obvious benefit of an over-the-counter approach to teeth whitening is the cost. Professional treatments are notoriously expensive, while over-the-counter solutions are much more affordable – meaning that you can afford a number of treatments at a much reduced price compared with a single round of professional whitening. This is popular with those who want to experiment with and explore a few different approaches to whitening, as the affordable cost allows them to test the market relatively easily. 

Another benefit is that, while over-the-counter whitening is not as potent or as reliable as professional whitening, when conducted safely it can prove effective to some degree. This means that, if you are simply looking to brighten your teeth by a shade or two, DIY solutions can work relatively well. 

Finally, over-the-counter whitening solutions can be conducted from the comfort of your own home – a notable benefit for those with a lack of time who want to brighten their smile but without booking appointments at their local dentist. 

The cons of over-the-counter teeth whitening

As is often the case, for every benefit there is also a drawback or consideration to take into account – and over-the-counter teeth whitening is no different. 

Up there at the top of our list is the simple fact that over-the-counter whitening solutions are neither as potent nor as effective as professional treatment plans. As at-home whitening kits and products contain highly diluted ingredients to ensure that they are safe for untrained buyers to use, the results are minimal, and buyers often find that they have to complete the whitening process many times in order to see any visible results. 

This means that, even while over-the-counter whitening solutions are cheaper, buyers should be aware that they are paying for treatments that will not necessarily work. 

What’s more, there are risks linked to some over-the-counter whitening products, as overuse can lead to discomfort and irritation of the gums, as well as sensitive teeth. 

As such, it is important that buyers and consumers are aware, prior to purchase, of both the risks of over-the-counter teeth-whitening solutions and the potential lack of results. 

The best approach to teeth whitening

If teeth whitening is something that you are serious about, then getting in touch with your local dentist will enable you to find out more about both the process and costs linked with professional whitening services. 

Combining potent and lasting results with a safe and efficient process, professional teeth whitening is administered with access to industry-leading methods and products. Here at Harley Teeth Whitening, our clients herald both the results themselves and the experience that they receive, from initial enquiry through to the aftercare process, and how to prolong their brighter smile. 

For more information, get in touch with our team today or browse our other blogs to find out more about the pros and cons of professional whitening and how soon you can expect a brighter smile.

Top 6 Foods and Beverages That Stain Your Teeth

Contrary to popular belief, teeth whitening is not purely reactive – in fact, with the right approach to oral hygiene and diet, it can be possible to achieve a brighter smile through a proactive approach to your lifestyle. 

In order to recognise the role of diet in teeth whitening, you need to know two things. Firstly, which foods and drinks help to keep your teeth clean – and secondly, which foods and beverages are responsible for causing the stains that darken your otherwise pearly white teeth. 

In this blog, we’re taking you on a tour of your very own kitchen, covering some of the most common foods and drinks that are known to stain your teeth and impact their shine. While some will ring familiar, others are lesser known culprits in the world of dentistry, and can cause a great deal more damage than simply staining. 

  1. Coffee

If there are any consumables on this list that you should already be aware of, coffee is up there as the most likely. A rich, caffeinated drink that many of us rely on to wake us up in the morning, coffee (especially black coffee) is packed full of tannins, which stick to the teeth and leave an unwanted hue behind on the surface. Over time, this temporary colour change starts to seep into the teeth and causes lasting tooth discolouration. 

This is made worse by the fact that many of us brush our teeth before consuming our morning coffee, opening up the pores of our teeth so that they absorb the liquid – and colour – more quickly. If you opt for a teeth-whitening service at your local dentist, they will advise you on the recommended aftercare and how long to wait between consuming these sorts of foods and drinks and brushing your teeth. 

  1. Tomato Sauce

There is no simpler or more comforting meal than pasta with a rich tomato sauce – however, did you know that the tomatoes in that sauce could be causing your teeth more harm than good?

While, in the case of coffee, it’s the tannins that cause the most harm to the look of your teeth, when talking about tomatoes, we need to turn our attention to the acidity of the ingredient. When acids come into contact with the teeth, they gradually wear away layers of the teeth so that they become more susceptible to staining. Tomatoes in particular contain a rich red pigment, which gives them that vibrant colour, but which is also less than ideal for those seeking a gleaming white smile. 

  1. Curry

Another sauce-based food, this one from the other side of the world. Curries are rich with both flavour and aroma, but it’s the yellow-coloured turmeric that is the real offender here. Turmeric may give your curry its trademark aesthetic, but it also wreaks havoc on your teeth and leaves pigments of colour behind on the teeth with regular consumption. 

  1. Berries / Berry Juice

This one falls into both the food and drink categories, with berries as a core ingredient known to be one of the biggest culprits for tooth discolouration. This is because the pigment in the fruit skin causes staining, while the high levels of acidity found in these berries wear away and weaken the surface of the teeth, making them more susceptible to staining. 

Falling into this category is red wine, which is made up of similar components that sit on the surface of the teeth, wear away the enamel and protective layers over time, and cause lasting stains. 

  1. Tea

Yes, we could have included this one under the very first drink mentioned in the blog. But, while coffee is often noted as a notorious and well-known cause of stained teeth, tea is very often overlooked. What’s more, with even green tea causing staining as a result of the high levels of tannins present, we thought this deserved its very own place on our list – if for no other reason than it tends to surprise people!

  1. Cola Drinks

We’re finishing our list with another drink, and one which everyone who is serious about oral hygiene and dental health will know means bad news for teeth. Cola is packed full of sugar and boasts an extremely high acidity – even those that are made without sugar are full of acids and contain the same colours that stain the teeth.

Like with some of the more acidic fruits, this drink will wear down the teeth and cause damage to the enamel, making the teeth more likely to soak up the colour that gives Cola its trademark appearance. 

How to minimise the risk of staining when consuming these foods and drinks  

Short of limiting your intake of all foods and drinks that cause staining, what exactly can you do to minimise the risk of staining while still enjoying all of your favourite treats?

Good oral hygiene is a must, regardless of your diet and lifestyle, as this is what keeps your teeth both healthy and clean, and which restores and protects each and every layer of each tooth. That means cleaning your teeth twice a day, visiting a dental hygienist regularly, and securing trips to the dentist every few months. 

Beyond that, there are certain measures you can take, which include eating lots of crunchy vegetables to act as natural teeth cleansers, and rinsing your mouth with water after consuming any particularly problematic foods or drinks that appear on this list. 

Finally, if you’re particularly concerned about the effect of certain drinks on your teeth, then it can be wise to drink through a straw to minimise contact with your teeth.

Measures such as these are advised to protect your teeth and to provide both proactive and reactive help in minimising the chance of staining. As well as following these, there are also certain foods and dietary changes you can make to help keep your teeth clean and healthy, including eating specific fresh fruit and vegetables, drinking more water, and boosting your consumption of vitamins and other nutrients. 

For more tailored guidance and to help counteract any teeth staining you have already experienced, your local dentist will be able to help. Here at Harley Teeth Whitening in London, we offer a range of services and treatments which help to whiten your teeth and give your smile a new lease of life. Get in touch with us directly to discuss specific treatments.

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