Teeth whitening has grown in popularity of late, thanks to the anti-ageing and aesthetically-pleasing effect of a gleaming smile.
Increasing numbers have been tempted to use a DIY teeth whitening kit bought over-the-counter or online, rather than have it done by a professional.
However, an expert has warned of the dangers of whitening teeth at home, such as mouth infections, gum recession and tooth nerve damage.
“Many people want to have cosmetically whitened teeth, and are going to crazy lengths to get their desired aesthetic look,” said Dr Krystyna Wilczynski, a cosmetic dentist and facial aesthetician, told Express.co.uk.
“Teeth bleaching is a well known procedure that is normally carried out by a professional and medically licensed dentist.
“However, it is becoming increasingly popular for people to opt for over-the-counter or online bleaching kits.
“This in incredibly dangers and can put patients at risk of mouth infections, tooth ache, gum recession – shrinkage – and even tooth nerve damage.
“Alongside the drastic health problems, over the counter bleach may also be fake, non effective or cause uneven patchy white spots.”
Dr Krystyna explained this was because teeth are made from a tissue called dentine which is a naturally yellow shade.
Whiteness comes from the hard enamel coating covering the teeth she said.
“Over time this enamel can wear and thin, which means teeth appear more yellow as the dentine shows through,” she warned.
But other factors such as coffee, red wine and smoking may cause stained teeth.
To combat this you can have your teeth whitened.
“Tooth bleaching uses a carbide peroxide gel of 16 per cent,” Dr Krystyna.
“This oxides with the dentine and lightens the ions and minerals of the teeth, therefore providing a lovely white colour.”
She warned that over-the-counter bleaches often contain a high acidity of bleach which can harm teeth and strip gums.
“Some products sold are also very abrasive and remove enamel layers whilst trying to alleviate staining,” she added.
If professional teeth whitening is currently out of your price range there are a number of other steps you can take to maintain white teeth.
Dr Krystyna recommended brushing teeth twice a day, preferably with an electric brush and floss, and avoiding drinks high in tannins, including coffee, tea and red wine.
Limiting refined sugar can also help, since that could prevent decay which in turn may blacken teeth.