Tooth whitening tips

Earlier this year the General Dental Council (GDC) successfully prosecuted a non-registered dental professional for performing tooth whitening.

The result is likely to cause upheaval and confusion amongst the thousands of unlicensed beauty salons across the UK, and concern from customers worried about the safety and quality of service they are receiving.

In one of the fastest growing areas of dentistry, the British Dental Health Foundation is offering the following information and advice for people considering the cosmetic treatment:

1. A third of all cosmetic dental treatments carried out involves tooth whitening.
2. Few people have brilliantly white teeth, and your teeth naturally become discoloured as you get older.
3. ‘Hydrogen Peroxide’ or ‘Carbamide Peroxide’ are the active bleaching ingredients which are used in tooth whitening.
4. Most tooth whitening products bought over the counter do not contain enough peroxide to be effective and are unlikely to change the colour of your teeth.
5.Tooth whitening only works on natural teeth and will not work on dentures, crowns or veneers.
6. Most tooth whitening treatments normally take three to four weeks to complete. Some treatments like ‘power whitening’ can be completed in one visit.
7. Tooth whitening can last for up to three years.
8. Known short-term side effects of tooth whitening can include increased tooth sensitivity, sore throats and white patches on the gum line.
9. Whitening toothpastes do not affect the colour of your teeth, but may be more effective at removing staining to restore the tooth’s natural colour.
10. Tooth whitening is only very rarely available on the NHS.


1. Seek advice from your dentist if you are considering using a home whitening kit.
2. Always have your teeth whitened by a registered qualified dental professional.
3. Always get a written estimate of the cost of tooth whitening before treatment. You should expect to pay more for ‘laser’ or ‘power whitening’.
4. Cut down on food and drinks which stain your teeth such as tea, coffee, red wine and blackcurrant juice.
5. Always look for the British Dental Health Foundation approved logo on the packaging of oral care products. This is a guarantee that the claims made about the product have been scientifically and clinically checked by an independent panel of experts.

For free, confidential and impartial advice about tooth whitening, contact the Foundation’s Dental Helpline on 0845 063 1188 or email [email protected]


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