Q: My teeth are looking a bit brown and stained and I want to improve their appearance. Can I buy a bleaching kit to use myself?
A: In a word, no. The new European Union directive about bleaching and tooth whitening came into force on 31 October. The regulations are now much stricter and you cannot buy tooth-whitening kits over the counter.
The salient point of the directive is that you must go to a (private) dentist for tooth-whitening procedures, according to dental surgeon Dr David Klaff of the London Centre for Implant and Aesthetic Dentistry (lciad.co.uk). Once the dentist has established whether a patient is suitable, with no contraindications (eg, crowns or veneers), impressions of the mouth will be taken to make customised trays for the whitening material. At a second appointment, the first stage (usually one hour) will be carried out and the patient given detailed instructions to carry on at home, usually for two hours daily over 14 days, with a follow-up of four to five days, three weeks later.
A thorough cleaning and polish can help greatly. This is usually done by a dental hygienist, who will offer expert advice on how to clean your teeth and the best products, and also diet. (See my column of 29 July 2012 at you.co.uk for more details on tooth cleaning.)
Regular visits to the dentist and hygienist are essential. It’s much simpler to prevent the build-up of plaque with six-monthly visits than leave it longer and need protracted treatment.
There is no provision for whitening on the NHS, but your dentist should be able to refer you for a hygiene session at your NHS practice or hygiene centre/clinic.
Whitening toothpastes are available but may damage tooth enamel, says Dr Klaff. For emergency measures, he recommends Opalescent Tooth Whitening Toothpaste, about £10, from Amazon.
My favourite product is all-natural Dental Splendour. This herbal powder, with peppermint and calendula, helps to clean teeth and freshen breath, and has antibacterial properties to help prevent gum problems. £15.80, from Victoria Health
All you need to know about beetroot juice
Freshly juiced beetroot is a nutritional powerhouse, says nutritionist Jenna Barclay (foodstolove.co.uk). Consume it regularly for real changes.
Beetroot juice is high in nitrate compounds and also iron
- , which lead to improved circulation after consuming
It’s good for anyone exercising (it’s popular with Olympic athletes), a great tonic for those with high blood pressure, and the iron content makes it ideal for people who tend to suffer from anaemia.
The antioxidants in beetroot fight damaging free radicals, linked to heart disease and cancer. Betacyanin, which gives beetroot its colour, reduces ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol.
Beetroot juice is recommended for would-be pregnant women and the first 28 days of pregnancy: the juice from 100g of raw vegetable contains 75 per cent of your recommended daily allowance of the B vitamin folate.
Freshly juiced raw beetroot gives the highest level of nutrients. Ready-made juice will have a lower nutrient content due to pasteurisation but is much better than nothing. YOU testers like the Beet It range, available in health-food stores and online, including Amazon.
Turn up the heat at bedtime…
A colleague and her partner recommend their new luxurious heated underblanket by Beurer, which has overcome their ‘body thermostat incompatibility’ and consequent night-time bickering when he tries to warm his icy feet on her legs. The micro-fleece double mattress cover’s dual controls operate two heat zones (feet and body) for each person so, in their case, he chooses toasty toes and back while she opts for just warm toes. Each has a timer, and setting it for one hour at bedtime costs around 2p a night. Machine-washable, the underblanket has an inbuilt safety system, so it switches off if it malfunctions. A high temperature setting (50 degree plus, without you in the bed) will kill dust mites and eggs. Monogram by Beurer Luxurious heated underblanket, from £89.99 for a standard double, from amazon.co.uk.