Tooth whitening 101 – part three

tooth whiteningDentistry Study Club hosted various webinars with Andy Wallace, Megan Fairhall and Affan Saghir on tooth whitening recently. Here is the third in a five-part series covering everything you need to know about offering tooth whitening in your dental practice.

Lockdown has been an opportunity for the dental profession to catch up on their education.

Philips Oral Healthcare sponsored a number of webinars on tooth whitening. The Philips team were delighted to see how so many dentists, hygienists and therapists were enthusiastic to learn more about the subject.

Aerosol-free tooth whitening is an attractive practice builder, which can involve the whole dental team. Here are the questions and answers provided by Dr Affan Saghir, Dr Andrew Wallace and dental hygienist Megan Fairhall during their webinars.

Treatment duration

How long should patients whiten for?

Affan Saghir: The protocol takes about three weeks from start to end.

It’s very important to mark the changes of the teeth. Take a good before and after picture, and tell patients to track their treatment to see the marked change.

What length of time should patients use 6% compared with 10%? Is there a difference in results when using the two?

Affan Saghir: The treatment time for 6% hydrogen peroxide gel is 30-60 minutes. Patients should carry this out in the day.

The treatment time for 10% carbamide peroxide gel is four to six hours. So patients should wear trays with the gel overnight.

Patient compliance, rather than the strength of solution, is the most important thing for a good result. Sustained, daily treatment will give the best results. And it’s important to understand your patients.

The 6% is good for those with lighter starting shades, and gives a quick result. It is best for patients who can’t wear trays overnight. Due to the short treatment time, it is a good way to ensure compliance.

However, 10% carbamide peroxide gel is a slower process. It lasts longer so is better for the tooth. It is also more effective for those with darker starting shades, more sensitive teeth or those with tetracycline stains. Although you will need to manage patient expectations if they have tetracycline stains.

The best treatment protocol is to start with 10% gel. The result is the same but with less sensitivity.

Additionally, because it is worn overnight, compliance tends to be higher.

For general maintenance do you just recommend home whitening for two weeks every six months? Or would you just advise to the patient to whiten as they feel appropriate?

Andrew Wallace: In my webinar I described the 3×3 method: three days, three times per year.


Should patients modify diets while whitening?

Andrew Wallace: Only for the 90-120 minutes after each whitening application.

What after-care should you give patients, including recommendations about eating, drinking and smoking?

Andrew Wallace: Avoid highly-coloured foods and drinks for 90-120 minutes after each whitening application.

For more information visit or call 0800 0567 222.

Previous steps

Get the most out of your membership by subscribing to Dentistry CPD
  • Access 600+ hours of verified CPD courses
  • Includes all GDC recommended topics
  • Powerful CPD tracking tools included
Register for webinar
Add to calendar