Business Insider Edition

This is how much South Africans are paying to bleach their teeth

James de Villiers , Business Insider SA
 May 23, 2019, 05:53 AM
(Facebook, De Necker Dentistry)
(Facebook, De Necker Dentistry)
  • South Africans are spending up to R5,500 to whiten their teeth. 
  • The procedure uses chemicals to remove stains and discolourations on the enamel of teeth. 
  • It is considered safe for most humans, with teeth sensitivity the biggest complaint patients typically have.
  • For more stories, go to www.businessinsider.co.za

South Africans are spending up to R5,500 to bleach their teeth in an attempt to get the perfect Hollywood smile. 

The cosmetic procedure entails using chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide to remove stains and discolourations on the enamel from coffee, pigmented food and plaque.

The dean of the University of Western Cape (UWC)’s faculty of dentistry, Yusuf Osman, said people have been drawn to the procedure due to increasing use of social media. 

“[It is] particularly gaining ground depending on special occasions such as getting married or going to do a photoshoot for an advert,” Osman told Business Insider South Africa. 

Also read: South Korea's president lost 12 of his teeth from stress — and it points to the country's troubling work culture

He said the procedure can either be completed at home or under the supervision of a dentist. 

The over-the-counter home procedure, costing between R750 and R1,500, uses a smaller dose of the chemical applied up to 35 minutes every day for a couple of weeks due to its lower strength.

The dentist-supervised home procedure uses higher doses applied over shorter periods.

(Instagram, @deneckerdentistry)
(Instagram, @deneckerdentistry)

The procedure completed in the dentist chair, priced between R3,000 and R5,500, is completed over an hour where a strong dose of the chemical is applied with a UV light to increase its effect.

Eitan Epstein, general dentist at FresherBreath Houghton, said the effect lasts six months to two years depending on a person’s smoking, coffee, tea and red wine consumption habits.

The home applications tend to last much shorter, and need to be touched up more regularly.

Epstein said before bleaching at a dentist, a routine consultation is completed to make sure there are no cavities or gum diseases.

The dentist will also check to see if there are any fillings on the teeth as their colour will not change during bleaching and therefore need to be replaced, he said.

Also read: Brushing my teeth with activated charcoal powder for a month made them whiter than ever

Rodney Jardim, oral hygienist at De Necker dentistry in Johannesburg, said teeth whitening is a very safe procedure with limited dangers.

Sensitivity and gingival irritation are usually the biggest issues patients report, and therefore a barrier is applied to keep the chemicals from hurting any flesh, he said.

Jardim said he would encourage anyone who isn’t allergic to the chemicals to have the procedure.

“After bleaching, patients usually can’t stop smiling, you can immediately see the improvement in their self-esteem and self-worth.” 

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