Few things are as flattering as a big bright smile, and in recent years the surge in cosmetic dentistry in the UK has been phenomenal. US-style ‘dental salon’ concepts have popped up all over London, offering everything from the latest veneer techniques and braces to different types of teeth whitening and a host of other treatments that promise to take years off your face. Riverside Dental Spa in Vauxhall has successfully tapped into the trend, but would having my teeth whitened really feel like being pampered?
It is a good idea to have your teeth thoroughly cleaned with a hygiene appointment before having them whitened, explains dr Neha Khade, my dentist for the day. Aided by a dental nurse she gets to work, gently polishing each tooth as I try to relax in the dentist’s chair. Having had a few not-so-great experiences in the past with dentists whose main priority seemed to be getting the job done as quickly as possible, I really appreciate the time and care Neha puts into making sure I am comfortable.
Normally, she will see patients for two separate appointments; the first for an overall assessment and any treatment needed, before taking impressions of the teeth using alginate or silicone material. The impressions are then sent off to a laboratory, which produces custom-made plastic trays into which the hydrogen peroxide solution that bleaches the teeth is applied. A week later the patient returns for a hygiene appointment and the whitening procedure, which takes 30 to 45 minutes. However, as I wear Invisalign braces to straighten my teeth I am able to use them instead.
Neha lines my brace trays with the hydrogen peroxide gel, which I was slightly worried would sting or hurt my gums, but it doesn’t. I sit down with a copy of Hello! magazine while I wait for it to work, which it does by penetrating the enamel and bleaching the teeth. It shouldn’t cause damage to the enamel but can make teeth extra sensitive, as I discover immediately after when I rinse my mouth with cold water. Neha advises me to use a toothpaste specially designed to treat sensitivity and says I can even apply a small amount and leave it on overnight.
Pleased that my teeth are already visibly lighter, I leave the surgery with a kit containing four syringes of the same gel administered by Neha, which I am to use at home for an hour once a day for the next week or so until I am happy with the result. However, as my teeth were fairly white to begin with, after just one DIY application I decide to keep the syringes in the fridge until I need a touch up.
My teeth are gleaming and just as I like them; an even shade of milky white. They look nice and natural rather than obviously whitened. Now there’s something to smile about.