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A recent New Zealand study found that whiter straighter teeth can make you 10 per cent more employable and 20 per cent more attractive, while shaving five years off your looks into the bargain.

Why do our teeth discolour?

Smoking, red wine, tea and coffee stain the surface enamel, while antibiotics, such as tetracycline and doxycycline, can cause sub-surface stains. Calculus (tartar) can also dim tooth colour – a good reason for regular visits to the hygienist.

Teeth also yellow and darken with age as the brownish dentine at the tooth’s core thickens and deepens, while thinning surface enamel shows it up even more. Individual teeth may also darken once the root is removed.

Will over the counter teeth whiteners help?

Thousands of “whitening” toothpastes are sold in the UK each year. Some claim to lighten teeth by up to eight shades, but interestingly, under European Union law, over-the-counter whitening products are only deemed safe if they contain a maximum of 0.1 per cent hydrogen peroxide (the whitening agent); a level which is too low to whiten teeth.

My beauty salon offers teeth whitening at a fraction of the price.

The British Dental Association (BDA) says you should be caution over cut-price teeth whitening in high street clinics and beauty salons which may offer treatments illegally. Under the Dentists Act 1884, only dentists or dental health professionals, such as hygienists, dental therapists and clinical dental technicians, working to a dentist’s prescription, can legally carry out teeth whitening.

Earlier this year, a series of Trading Standards Office raids revealed salons operating illegally, some using more than 200 times the permitted level of hydrogen peroxide.

Stuart Johnson of the BDA says: “Non-dental professionals are not trained to consider a patient’s wider health and detect problems, such as gum disease, that impact on the suitability of an individual to have their teeth whitened. We are also concerned that some non-dental professionals carry out whitening treatments using inappropriate and potentially dangerous chemicals.”

The BDA’s advice is to check your dental professional is registered with the General Dental Council, the UK’s dental regulator, by visiting www.gdc-uk.org – and of course at Confident Orthodontics, we are!