Professional Tooth Whitening in the UK in the 21st Century

Tooth Whitening

There have been a number of changes in the UK recently with regards to tooth whitening. This topic is also a source of confusion for many dental professionals as to what is and what isn’t acceptable. This article will guide you through some of the commonly asked questions I get to help you make informed decisions if you are considering having tooth whitened. You’ll know the details, the risks and the benefits to help you decide whether it’s right for you.

Tooth Whitening History and Safety

Modern-day professional tooth whitening is typically carried out using Carbamide Peroxide or Hydrogen Peroxide. The effectiveness of these substances was discovered through a chance. Dentists employed Carbamide Peroxide to aid with gum healing following surgery, and found that the teeth were becoming whiter. A variety of other agents have been utilized, but Carbamide Peroxide and Hydrogen Peroxide provide the most long-lasting results , and, more importantly, are safe for teeth. Visit:-

Is tooth whitening safe? Yes, it is, but it isn’t always.

It is recommended to use a qualified dentist or dental professional is employed to carry out tooth whitening. The General Dental Council agree and they have also taken unlicensed tooth whiteners under the legal system.

The first step is to determine the diagnosis. A treatment plan must be made. They also need to know the advantages and disadvantages of the procedure being recommended. Only someone who has a deep understanding of anatomy, physiology and the chemistry behind teeth and the soft tissues etc. can make this decision.

The choice of tooth whitening product is important. It has to be safe, efficient and yield good results. Hydrogen Peroxide as well as Carbamide Peroxide have the best track record (in both safety and efficacy), however If the concentration is low it will not be effective. The only ones that are permitted to prescribe it at concentrations that work are dentists.


Some of the techniques used by non-dentists give immediate spectacular results. Chlorine Dioxide for example makes teeth very white, but it is very acidic and strips the enamel from the teeth. It is NOT irreversible. It causes damage to the surface of teeth which causes them to pick up staining very rapidly and are difficult to remove. The teeth are rough and often permanently sensitive.

I have friends of dentists who have asked at the tooth whitening booths found in malls what they use for whitening their teeth, but haven’t received an answer. Many have been even escorted out by security! It is a huge concern for us as dental professionals that people allow chemicals that are not known on their teeth to be applied by non-dental professionals.

Dental Whitening myths, facts and myths

* Not all discolouration problems have the same cause therefore they need to be addressed in different ways. One size does not fit all!

People judge us based on our appearance. We are all aware that a significant part of the first impression that we give is based on our smile and the state of our teeth.

* Yellow teeth are not more powerful than white teeth.

* We don’t want make everyone’s smile look like tombstones with white outlines. We’re here to assist patients to look natural and can boost confidence.

* Whitening toothpastes do not typically whiten teeth, but they can reduce staining or reduce amounts of stain that accumulates.

* A large portion of dark teeth can be improved with getting rid of stain.

Many over-the-counter products for whitening can be harmful and some (especially ones that do not come in the UK) can be harmful.

* ‘In Surgery’ whitening methods leave teeth dehydrated, which means they appear more white than they actually are. The “wow factor” soon goes away.

* If your teeth get too white from ‘In-Surgery procedures, nothing will be done about it to change this quickly.

* The intense blue light included in these systems have little or no proven benefit. The benefit is predominately by heating the gel and speeding things up. There’s lots of marketing and hype associated with these!

* Systems that are ‘At Home’ tend to provide longer-lasting outcomes, as well as more convenient options for top-ups at later dates.

* Non-dental professions who offer tooth whitening usually make use of unidentified chemical substances the effects of which aren’t known.

Many dental professionals who provide tooth whitening are breaking the law.

Why do teeth get dark

There are five main causes of teeth darkening/discolouration.

* Staining: The staining is usually on the surface of the teeth or in tiny imperfections within the tooth surface. These rough areas also include deposits of calculus or tartar which build up over time.

A variety of drinks and foods cause staining. The most prevalent cause is red wine, curry (especially ones with turmeric), tea and coffee. Many other substances that can cause discoloration or darkening of teeth.

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