This page is intended as information only and is not medical advice. Always speak to a dental professional before seeking any oral treatment.
What is Teeth Whitening?
Teeth Whitening involves bleaching your teeth to make them whiter. It can make yellow teeth lighter in colour by several shades but it can’t make them pure white.
More and more people are paying for teeth whitening because they want lighter, whiter teeth and a confident smile.
Is Teeth Whitening Permanent?
It is a long lasting treatment but not permanent. How long it lasts differs from person to person, it can last from a few months to a few years.
If you smoke, drink a lot of coffee, tea or red wine then you can expect that the effect will last less long than someone who doesn’t because these things stain your teeth.
How does Teeth Whitening work?
Teeth whitening is a course of treatment supplied by dentists, dental hygienists and registered dental therapists. There are two common types of treatments supplied:
An impression of your teeth is taken and a mouthguard produced for you to use with a bleaching gel at home. Over a period of 2 to 4 weeks you apply the teeth whitening gel for a specified time according to your dentist’s guidance and over the course of treatment, your teeth become lighter in colour and less yellow.
Also referred to as power whitening, laser whitening is a procedure carried out by dentists whereby a bleaching agent is applied to your teeth and then a light is shone on it to activate the teeth whitening properties within the agent. This takes around an hour and your dentist will advise you on if and when it should be repeated to produce the results you want.
How do I get Teeth Whitening?
You can find dental professionals that are registered with the GDC (General Dental Council) in your local area who are licensed to carry out teeth whitening procedures. Unlike the potentially riskier DIY home kits for sale online, a licensed GDC pro will be able to carry out any treatment safely.
The best course of action to find out if your teeth are suitable for teeth whitening is to contact your dentist who is qualified to advise on which course of action is right for you and if there are any barriers to treatment.
If you want to risk going it alone and purchasing DIY whitening products, then you can find a list of products for teeth whitening products that are available online and whilst we don’t recommend using them at all, we understand that everyone has a right to choose and you are free to decide for yourself whether teeth whitening at home is worth it in your case.
What are the risks with Teeth Whitening?
It’s possible that your gums will be sore from the chemicals used in the bleaching agents, especially if you already have sensitive teeth. In some cases gums can be burnt and become very sore or even damaged. DIY kits can harm tooth enamel. – source: NHS
What’s the difference between DIY kits and professional teeth whitening?
If you buy a home DIY teeth whitening kit in the UK, the maximum allowed dosage of hydrogen peroxide (the bleaching agent) is 0.1%. It is against the law to supply kits with any higher content than this. In addition, some DIY kits are abrasive to the enamel on your teeth and can do more harm than good in the long run.
Teeth whitening treatments carried out in-practise by trained dental professionals can contain up to 0.6% hydrogen peroxide and safely administered by trained experts, ensuring a more stable and long lasting lightening of the teeth, with no risk to the tooth enamel and the backup of the GDC for peace of mind.
More Teeth Whitening Questions Answered
How long between treatments?
Generally, top-up treatments are done every 6 to 9 months according to BUPA, although it is probably more a case of “when you see the whitening fade”, given that every treatment lasts a different amount of time depending on lifestyle factors. Your best option is to speak with your dental practitioner who will have your dental history and will be able to make a more informed estimate for you.
teeth whitening products bought over the counter, if you’re risking them, could presumably be done whenever you feel like it, although it’s probably a good idea to leave as long as possible in between treatments to avoid any potential issues.
How much whiter will my teeth become?
Up to 6 shades and probably 3 or so even if you’re a smoker.
Whitening treatments tend to vary depending on individual teeth and lifestyle choices. Knowing your dental history and being able to discuss details with you is one of the benefits of seeing a professional dentist for teeth whitening as questions like this can be answered more easily.
How long does teeth whitening take?
If you’re going to a dental practice to have it done properly, you’re looking at an hour for treatment and half an hour either side for pre and post treatment.
If you’re doing it at home with a kit from a dentist then two or three weeks. DIY home kits can take longer or be ineffective/unreliable.
Can I get teeth whitening treatment on the NHS?
No. It’s a cosmetic treatment, so you shouldn’t attempt to burden the health system with personal, private treatment matters to try and save a few quid.
Will it whiten my false teeth or crowns?
No. Teeth whitening only works on natural teeth. Fillings, dentures, crowns etc. cannot be whitened.
How much does it cost?
It depends on which dental practise you go to. Every practise will have their own rates, so ring around a few to get some quotes if you’re concerned about the cost of teeth whitening treatment.
Home kits from online retailers are generally inexpensive and can often be found for under £30. (at your own risk)
Is teeth whitening treatment safe?
Yes, teeth whitening treatment is safe if carried out by a trained professional who is registered with the GDC, who does it properly.
It is illegal for anyone else to do teeth whitening so it’s advisable to see only dentists, dental hygienists, therapists or technicians to be absolutely sure of a safe treatment.
DIY kits that you purchase online such as these can’t really be guaranteed as safe in the same sense as you’re taking a punt that a cheap kit will do the job and won’t have the insight that a dental pro will have in all likelihood, so you’re on your own if you go that route.
How can I find a GDC registered dentist?
The GDC has a search page on their website that you can use to look up whether dentists and dental professionals are registered with them.