The safest way to get a whiter smile

Like all medical procedures, tooth whitening carries some element of risk.  That’s why it’s important to discover how you can achieve that whiter smile in the safest way possible.
If you are thinking about having tooth whitening there are some essential rules to follow, as well as some dangerous pitfalls to avoid.  There are also some actions you can take at home that might mean you no longer feel the need to have treatment.
Tooth whitening in professional hands
When it comes to tooth whitening, there really isn’t a better source of information than your dental team.
Not only are they fully qualified and licensed to perform the treatment, but they will be able to take your dental needs into account.  Dentists can treat you with 6% hydrogen peroxide (the bleaching agent that whitens teeth) – this is nearly 6,000 times stronger than any over-the-counter tooth whitening product.  Because of this, tooth whitening by a dentist will give you th…

When tooth whitening becomes unsafe

Professional tooth whitening is a complex procedure which involves the use of powerful chemicals that can do harm to your teeth and gums if not used properly. It’s for this reason that tooth whitening carried out in the wrong hands is so dangerous.
Due to the strong chemicals, when tooth whitening goes wrong it can cause the following issues:

Chemical burns to the gums

Blisters on the gums

Ulceration of the gums, mouth and throat

Swollen lips

Putting your smile in danger is never worth the risk.  There are two main sources of unsafe tooth whitening; DIY treatments performed at home, and illegal treatments by unqualified people.  It is important that you are aware of these and avoid going down the potential harmful route.    
DIY tooth whitening at home
Worryingly, it is quite easy to go online and purchase hydrogen peroxide (the active ingredient in professional whitening) in concentrations that are way above the l…
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The basics of orthodontics

The number of adults choosing to have orthodontic treatment in the UK is growing.  When done correctly, orthodontics can transform the appearance of the smile.  This can have benefits for both a person’s physical health and mental wellbeing.     
Orthodontic treatment is complicated and needs a specialist understanding of where teeth can be moved to, and how.  In the wrong hands, orthodontic treatment can cause serious and permanent damage to the teeth and jaw, so it’s important to do your research and choose the safest option for you and your smile.
Orthodontics aims to move the teeth into a stable position.  It works by putting pressure on the teeth, to slowly move them in the right direction.  As the pressure takes effect, the bone in the jaw changes to allow the teeth and their roots to move.
The health benefits
There are many health benefits that come with orthodontic treatment. These include:
Straighter teeth
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Tooth jewellery

Tooth jewellery is the act of placing individual jewels onto the outer surface of the teeth.
There are two main types of tooth jewels:
A collection of yellow and white gold jewellery with some including gems such as diamonds.
Dental gems
A range of glass crystals fixed to the tooth.
Tooth jewellery is not advised by dental professionals and can cause damage to the teeth.
The General Dental Council (the UK’s dental regulator) views the application of tooth jewellery as the practice of dentistry.  This means that anybody carrying out tooth jewellery treatments is acting against the law if they are not registered with the GDC.
Unfortunately, illegal application of tooth jewellery is all too common and something which is not safe for your smile.
The health risks of tooth jewellery
Having a jewel stuck onto the surface of your tooth can cause serious damage.
The area of the tooth underneath the gem is impossible to clean and can become damaged.  Without …
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Oral piercings

Oral piercings are any piercings that are attached to, or in the mouth. This includes the tongue, lips, and cheeks.
As the stud or ring is pierced to soft tissue, oral piercings pose a far greater risk to your health than those on other parts of the body.   This is because they are difficult to care for and are more prone to infection.
Oral piercings are not considered safe and are not recommended.
If you are still considering an oral piercing, it is important to lower the risks and help protect the health of your smile.  Treatment should take place in a sterilised environment and carried out by registered piercers.
You can ask your local authority for a list of registered piercers as well as safe piercer associations.
The health risks of oral piercings
There are many risks associated with oral piercings.  It is important that you are aware of all of these before going through with treatment.  If you are concerned about the possible dangers involved with …
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Mouth tattoos

Mouth tattoos refer to any tattoo inside the mouth or on the lips. This can be either on the palate (roof of the mouth) or cheek, however, the most popular place is the inside of the bottom lip.
Some people also have lip tattoos around the edge of the mouth as a way of having permanent ‘lip liner’.  This would also be classed as a mouth tattoo.
Health advice on mouth tattoos
Because of the potential harm to your health, mouth tattoos are never recommended.
Any tattoo comes with risks, however, mouth tattoos come with added dangers.  Unlike tattoos on the outside of the skin, mouth tattoos are placed on soft tissue.  This makes it extremely difficult to cover, protect and keep clean.   
The mouth is constantly exposed to foreign substances – like food and drinks, as well as any anything else you might put in the mouth.  This means the open wound, caused as a result of the tattoo, is more prone to damage and infection.
Mouth tattoos a…
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Grillz / Grills

Grillz are removable decorative tooth covers. They are often made of gold, silver or jewel-encrusted precious metals that snap over one or more teeth.
They have been around in some form for thousands of years as a way of showing social status but made their way into mainstream pop culture in the early 1980s. They’re still worn today by many celebrities such as Nicki Minaj, Kanye West, Justin Bieber and Jay-Z.
Grillz are often used as a form of self-expression and identity, and an opportunity to show off something …  but they may not be a healthy choice for your smile.
Safety concerns
Grillz are not recommended because they could pose to your oral health and hygiene.
By wearing Grillz you might increase your risk of tooth decay and gum disease.  This is because plaque can get trapped between it and the tooth’s surface.
When plaque builds up, it can have serious consequences to your health.  Plaque reacts to sugars in your food and drinks and forms…
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Keeping your mouth safe while playing sport

Many sports pose a potential danger for your mouth when there is a chance of other people, or objects, coming into contact with it.  This is just as true for non-contact sports as it is for those sports that have contact.
Looking after your mouth and oral health when playing sport is important.  The good news is that during this time, there are some easy and effective steps to help protect your teeth and gums and keep your smile safe.
Common mouth injuries in sport
Between 13% and 39% of all dental injuries in the UK are linked to accidents during sport and it also accounts for around 25% of children injuring or losing front teeth.
Contact sports are increasingly popular which has resulted in a rise of traumatic dental injuries.
Common sporting injuries that can put your mouth at risk include:

Soft tissue injuries to lips and gums (cuts, bruises etc).

Broken teeth.

Tooth loss.

Tooth misalignment.

What to do when things go wrong
If a toot…
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Seeing an orthodontist

Would you book yourself in for laser eye surgery without asking an optician if it is suitable for you? Would you attempt to perform laser eye surgery on yourself?
For most people, the answer may sound a little like ‘no, that is far too dangerous, and I could end up with permanent problems’.   This is exactly the attitude you also need when considering orthodontics.
Attempting orthodontic treatment at home or without professional supervision could put your smile at risk.  The safest way to get orthodontic treatment will always be to see a qualified and registered orthodontist.  
When you think about orthodontic treatment, think ACE.
One benefit of going to an orthodontist is all dental and orthodontic practices must be registered with and inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and have these findings published online.
This holds them accountable for their practice and their treatments and can be prosecuted if found to be in br…
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What to expect at your appointments

When carried out by a dentist or specialist orthodontist, the process of having orthodontic treatment should fill you with confidence. It should give you the reassurance that you are on the way to achieving the best results for you and your smile.  There’s also the added benefit of knowing that the safety and health of your mouth is being put first.   
Here is a brief guide as to what your orthodontic journey may look like:
Your first appointment
Your first appointment will usually be a consultation, where the orthodontist will ask you how you feel about your smile and discuss what you’d like to change.
Their job is to make sure you understand all the information that is given to you, and that you are able to make the best decision for you.
Once they have established whether orthodontic treatment is right for you, they will then discuss all the different options available to you and show you examples of the different braces that they offer and provide qu…
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