23 / 05 / 2023
Tooth Whitening Is 100% Safe – If Done Correctly!
More and more people are looking for brighter, whiter teeth. But does teeth whitening work and is it safe? Here are the answers to common questions about the treatment.
What is teeth whitening?
Teeth whitening involves the use of bleaching gels on your teeth to make them lighter or restore their brightness.
Who can perform teeth whitening?
Teeth whitening is a form of dentistry and should only be performed by a dentist or another regulated dental professional, such as a dental hygienist or dental therapist, on the prescription of a dentist.
Some beauty salons offer teeth whitening, but this is illegal if there’s no dental professional present, and it may put your dental health at risk.
You can also buy DIY home teeth whitening kits but these may also carry risks.
What happens during teeth whitening at the dentist?
The dentist will take an impression of your teeth to make a custom-made, close fitting whitening tray (a little bit like a gum shield) and will instruct you how to use it with the whitening gel. Then, using your whitening tray at home, you regularly apply the gel for a specified period of time over two weeks.
The whitening gel (carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide) breaks down, oxygen enters the enamel and the tooth becomes lighter. The structure of the tooth remains unchanged.
Can any dentist whiten teeth?
Yes, provided they are registered with the General Dental Council. Registered dental therapists and dental hygienists can also carry out teeth whitening on the prescription of a dentist.
To find out if a dental professional is registered with the GDC you can check online or call 0207 167 6000.
What are the risks of home kits and salon teeth whitening?
Some home kits don’t contain enough of the whitening product to be effective. More generally, if a dental professional is not doing the whitening, the whitening tray provided may not fit properly so some of the bleaching gel may leak out onto your gums and into your mouth, causing blistering and sensitivity.
Where teeth whitening is carried out in beauty salons by staff without any training or dental qualifications it not only carries a risk to your oral health, but is also illegal.
How do you go about getting teeth whitening?
Your dentist will advise you whether whitening is right for you. It may be that teeth whitening isn’t suitable, for example if you have gum disease or crowns.
Is teeth whitening permanent?
No, 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, which can all stain your teeth.
What are the risks of teeth whitening?
No matter what treatment you use, there is a chance your gums can be sensitive to the chemicals used in teeth whitening, especially if you already have sensitive teeth.
If you think your teeth whitening has been carried out illegally (that is, by someone not qualified or registered to perform it) contact the General Dental Council on 0207 167 6000 or email [email protected].