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Teeth Whitening - What is it and is it safe?

Updated: Dec 18, 2018


Teeth whitening involves bleaching your teeth to make them lighter.  It breaks down and lightens the dirt particles that build up on your teeth over time, made worse particularly by heavy staining products such as tea, coffee, nicotine and red wine.

Teeth whitening can’t make your teeth brilliant white, but using the right products can lighten your existing colour by several shades.

Who can perform teeth whitening?

  • The law regarding tooth whitening changed on 31 October 2012.

  • The law increased the percentage of hydrogen peroxide allowed in tooth whitening or bleaching products to 6%, subject to being provided by a dentist or dental hygienist and that the patient is 18 years of age or over.

This law draws a clear line between products that can legally be used for tooth whitening by dentists and products that can be purchased by non-dental professionals.

The dentist should carry out an examination or consultation prior to you starting a course of tooth whitening, to determine whether tooth whitening is a suitable option.

But what about Beauty salons or the internet?!

Some beauty salons offer teeth whitening, but this is illegal if there's no dental professional present, and it may put your oral health at risk.

You can also buy DIY home teeth whitening kits but these may also carry risks.

Some home kits don’t contain enough of the whitening product to be effective.  Much of the time, the mouth guard provided may not fit properly so some of the bleaching gel may leak out onto your gums and into your mouth, which can cause blistering and sensitivity.

So, it may be a lot cheaper, but remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it quite probably is!

What happens during teeth whitening at the dentist?

The dentist will take an impression of your teeth to make a tailor made mouth guard and will instruct you how to use it with a bleaching gel. The active ingredient will be either Hydrogen Peroxide or Carbamide Peroxide. Then, using your mouth guard at home, you regularly apply the gel for a specified period of time over two to four weeks. Some whitening gels can be left on for up to eight hours at a time, so often patients find it easier to sleep with the mouth guards in place.

Your dentist will be able to advise you on how to use the gel and mouth guards correctly as well as advise you of any risks and how to deal with any sensitivity that may occur.

Teeth whitening isn’t permanent.  It can last from a few months to up to three years, but this varies from person to person. Generally, the whitening effect won’t last as long if you smoke or drink red wine, tea or coffee.  Most dentists will be able to provide you with extra gel for when you wish to “top up” as, if looked after properly, your custom fitted mouthguards will last you a lifetime!

College Street Dental Centre are providers of Home Teeth Whitening, a course of treatment is currently only £325.  Contact or 01730 263180 for your consultation.

For further information or advice contact College Street Dental Centre in Petersfield, Hampshire on 01730 263180


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