What is teeth whitening?
Teeth whitening involves bleaching your teeth to make them lighter. Teeth whitening can’t make your teeth brilliant white, but it can lighten the existing colour by several shades.
Who can perform teeth whitening?
Teeth whitening is a form of dentistry and should be performed by a dentist. The other options are a regulated dental professional, dental hygienist or dental therapist. Alternatively 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 oral 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?
Take Home Teeth Whitening
If you have a take-home teeth whitening you will need to make few visits to the dental surgery over a couple of months. The dentist will take an impression of your teeth to make a whitening tray similar to a mouth-guard and will instruct you how to use it with a bleaching gel. Then, using your clear whitening trays at home, you regularly apply the gel for either about an hour (Day version) or leave these comfortable trays in place overnight (Night version) over two to four weeks.
Philips Zoom In-Surgery Power Whitening
With Philips Zoom Whitening, you can achieve your whitest smile with just one 45-minute treatment by your dental professional. No wonder Philips Zoom is the #1 most requested professional whitening brand by patients worldwide.
Also called Laser Teeth Whitening. This process involves a safe whitening gel painted onto your teeth. Then a activator light is shone on them to activate the whitening gel. Laser whitening takes about 45 minutes to an hour. The result: You get the brightest, whitest smile in the safest possible way.
More and more people are paying for brighter, whiter teeth. But does teeth whitening work and is it safe? Here are the answers to common questions about the treatment.
Can any dentist whiten teeth?
Yes, provided they are registered with the General Dental Council & trained in Teeth Whitening Procedures. 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 0845 222 4141.
What about home kits and beauty salons for teeth whitening?
You should only go to a registered dental professional for teeth whitening because whitening by people who aren’t qualified, for example in beauty salons, is illegal. Home kits also carry risks.
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. That result in the bleaching gel may leaking 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 from incorrect treatment & infections from contaminated instruments & materials, but is also illegal. The dental council which is responsible for protecting dental patients in the UK says any commercial operation or activity in the patient’s mouth is classed as a dental treatment and can only be carried out by a GDC registered dentist.
Remember, dental professionals & dental practices in the UK are strictly regulated from different independent regulatory bodies such as General Dental Council (GDC), Care Quality Commission (CQC), NHS England (if providing NHS care) etc
Can you have your teeth whitened on the NHS?
You can only have your teeth whitened on the NHS if there’s a medical reason for it. For example, this might be to lighten teeth that have discoloured because the nerve has died.
In normal circumstances teeth whitening by a dentist or other dental professional can only be done privately because it’s considered to be a cosmetic treatment. Costs vary and, as a general rule, laser whitening is more expensive than professional bleaching.
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 or fillings.
What questions should I ask the dentist before going ahead?
Don’t be afraid to ask simple questions about the types of whitening treatment available. The results you can expect and if the work is guaranteed for a certain amount of time. Also, ask them what they consider to be the risks in your particular case. One example is increasing sensitivity of the teeth.
Try to talk to other people who have had the same treatment. You could also visit another dentist for a second opinion until you feel confident. Always ask for a written treatment plan and price estimate before going ahead.
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.
Will teeth whitening work on false teeth?
No. Teeth whitening won’t work on dentures, crowns, fillings or veneers.
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. This is especially if you already have sensitive teeth. There’s also a chance of burns to gums and some of the whitening kits used at home can harm tooth enamel.
What if I’m not happy with the results?
If you’re concerned that teeth whitening by a dental professional has harmed you. Contact the practice itself in the first instance and check their complaints policy. If you are not satisfied with the outcome from the practice management, you may then contact the Dental Complaints Service on 08456 120540. This is an expert, free and independent service that can help if you have a complaint about private dental care.
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 0845 222 4141 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why not call us for an advice on 01642 308 764 if you are considering teeth whitening.
Other available treatments
Visiting your dentist regularly for check-ups is such an important part of your overall oral health. This is because prevention is key to prolonging the life of your teeth.
Dentures are an option to replace missing teeth. They are extremely important in retaining aesthetics and function when teeth are lost.