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Mouth rises contain ingredients that make them taste good and help to alleviate the smell of bad breath. They also contain a number of antibacterial agents that affect the growth and activities of bacteria living in the dental plaque and on the tongue.

The bacteria on the tongue are believed to the responsible in the most part for bad breath. The bacteria on the teeth – the dental plaque – are responsible for tooth decay and for gum disease.

The various antibacterial agents included in mouth rinses are not equally effective on controlling the bacteria on the mouth. The most effective is chlorhexidine (in Corsodyl) but if you use if for too long it can cause unacceptable staining of the teeth (although this staining can be removed by the hygienist).

Dental plaque grows rapidly. Everyone knows how in the morning you can feel the plaque on your teeth and tongue as the bacteria in your mouth have grown while you were asleep. Mouth rinses are not very good at removing plaque. The most efficient way is to use fluoride toothpaste twice a day and to clean your teeth in the correct manner. Once the teeth have been cleaned, a mouth rinse may have an effect on the rate of growth of the dental plaque.

Mouth rinses are good things. But if you do not clean your teeth twice a daily with fluoride toothpaste, then mouth rinses are not going to protect you against developing tooth decay.

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The initial appointment with your dentist will include an examination, taking of medical and dental history to determine the cause of discolouration (ageing, drug-induced, smoking, diet) as well as prognosis of the treatment. This examination often requires x-rays of the upper front teeth to check for the absence of disease. Discussions of your expectations, habits and any further matters will take place prior to the impressions to construct the mouthguard being taken.

Only one arch (jaw) is generally treated at a time. This helps to maintain a comparison of colour change within the arch. It is usually the upper teeth which are lightened first. You do not have to lighten the lower teeth if you do not wish to.

Fifty percent of patients remain stable for seven years, while some patients may need a short ‘top-up’ 18 months after the first treatment. This varies according to the individual.
Generally, tooth whitening is a simple, safe, non-invasive, cost-effect technique to whiten teeth in a short period of time, in your own home.

What could be a nicer way to smile through the new year.

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We have received a high level of interest in tooth whitening procedures (also known as tooth bleaching). The technique generally uses a custom-made mouthguard, which contains a peroxide-containing whitening gel. This mouthguard, loaded with the gel, is worn either during the day for just one hour or overnight during sleep. Treatment time is generally 2 weeks.

Prior to its introduction into the dental literature in 1989, this technique has been used in patient care since 1968 with no significant detrimental effects on teeth, gums, restoration or systematically i.e. in the body as a whole. We would advise, however, to stop smoking during the course of treatment. Groups not acceptable for whitening treatments generally include expectant or nursing mothers or children.

Two side effects which we have noted are –

Some teeth become sensitive to temperature changes during treatment. However, sensitive teeth return to normal when treatment is completed, with no long-term effects noted (7 year recalls).

Some patients may experience irritation by the peroxide solution in a portion of their gums. This may be due to a need to adjust the mouthguard. Chemical irritation resolves within one to four days without cessation of treatment.

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