Is it safe to whiten your teeth at home? (2024)

Hankering after a perfect set of pearly white teeth? According to the Oral Health Foundation, teeth whitening is one of the largest growing cosmetic procedures in the UK, with more people prepared to dole out the cash in pursuit of a whiter and brighter smile than ever before.

But if you're considering investing in a whiter smile it pays to be prepared. The dental industry has its fair share of cowboys and over-the-counter products may put your oral health at risk, so it's worth investigating the facts before getting your credit card out. Dr Eddie Coyle, Clinical Director for BUPA dental, gives us the lowdown on the efficacy of teeth whitening:

Is teeth whitening safe?

    There are numerous options available when it comes to whitening teeth – from bleaching kits and toothpastes, to in-chair treatments and holistic remedies. 'However, it is important to remember that before trying anything, patients should consider whether the treatment is safe, approved and conducted correctly in anclinical environment,' says Dr Coyle.

    Only dentists registered with the General Dentist Council should carry out teeth whitening.

    'Many products that can be bought online or over-the-counter can pose risks to our health, particularly if you don't know whether the level of bleach they contain is safe,' adds Dr Coyle. 'Likewise, whitening treatments performed in unregistered beauty salons or shops can also be risky – therefore it's important to remember that only dentists registered with the General Dentist Council can carry out teeth whitening.'

    ⚠️ Book a check-up with your dentist before considering teeth whitening, to ensure your mouth is healthy before discussing your options, and don't forget that teeth whitening should only be carried out by a dental professional.

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    Is whitening suitable for me?

    For the vast majority of people, whitening can work really well and the results will be a significant improvement. However, there are some instances where patients aren't suitable for treatment.

    'People who have dental restorations such as crowns or bridges; porcelain veneers; cosmetic bonding or tooth coloured fillings will find that the bleaching agents won't work on all their teeth,' says Dr Coyle.

    'It is also worth bearing in mind that, while teeth whitening is completely safe when conducted properly, it can lead to temporary sensitivity to temperature, pressure and touch, as well as temporary gum irritation. With that in mind, it's important for you to visit your dentist to assess the status of your teeth and gums prior the treatment.'

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    Can your own dentist whiten your teeth?

    To get the best results, you don't necessarily need to invest in private dental care. 'The Zoom! Whitening treatment performed at the practice is a quick and effective way to whiten your teeth in a short space of time,' says Dr Coyle.

    To get the best results, you don't need to use products at home, or invest in private dental care.

    'Zoom! Whitening can mean you see visible results after just one hour, whereas the Home Whitening can take a little longer than this,' he adds.

    'However, the comfort of being able to whiten your teeth at home is an important factor for many of my patients. The result will eventually be the same, so patients can just pick the treatment that suits them and their needs best.'

    How long does teeth whitening last?

    The good news is the effects of whitening can last for up to three years. 'However, this will vary from person-to-person,' says Dr Coyle. 'The effect is less likely to last as long if you smoke, or eat or drink things that can stain your teeth.

    'It is also important for patients to brush and floss regularly throughout the day, to maintain a good oral hygiene and a whiter shade. Ask your dental team for their opinion before you start the treatment,' he adds.

    Is it safe to whiten your teeth at home? (3)

    Yuri_ArcursGetty Images

    What causes teeth staining?

    The biggest culprits for teeth staining include the following:

    Tea and coffee

    Drinking several cups of black tea or coffee per day can cause the chemicals contained in those beverages to turn your teeth yellowish, or a darker shade.

    Red wine

    This is staining because of the dark purple colours found in the grapes used for its production.


    Tobacco is highly staining and the number of cigarettes smokers have every day cause their teeth to be continually exposed to the staining process.

        'When it comes to staining factors, cigarettes are most certainly one of the worst,' says Dr Coyle. 'Dark carbonated drinks also pose a risk to the colour of our teeth. In fact, the food colouring contained in these products can have a major staining effect.'

        'Drinking tea, coffee or other dark drinks through a straw works as it may help to reduce the time that your teeth are in contact with these beverages, meaning they should be less likely to stain - although this is not a fool-proof solution and ideally you should aim to reduce your consumption overall.'

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        How should you look after whitened teeth?

        Following a whitening treatment, avoid dark-coloured foods and beverages for at least 48 hours after the procedure, including coffee, tea, red wine and pasta sauce.

        'The enamel remains porous for this period of time making it easy for the above mentioned items to penetrate the outer surface of enamel and stain your teeth,' says Dr Coyle.

        'It is also essential to practice excellent oral hygiene – this includes, not only brushing but also flossing, after meals and before bedtime.'

        Does teeth whitening affect your enamel?

        Contrary to popular belief, your tooth enamel is safe. 'I get asked this a lot,' says Dr Coyle. 'The conclusive answer is no. Dental whitening products only remove surface stains that are in the microscopic pores of your teeth. The bleach does not penetrate deeply within the tooth.'

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        Teeth whitening risks

        It pays to shop around when finding the perfect teeth whitening service to suit you. 'It's important that only dentists registered with the General Dental Council carry out teeth whitening,' says Dr Coyle. 'Nobody else is qualified to do so. I cannot stress this concept enough.

        It is vital that your dentist confirms there are no issues requiring treatment in your mouth first.

        'If a dental professional is not doing the whitening, the mouthguard 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.'

        Additionally, when it comes to DIY teeth whitening, home kits also come with health concerns. 'Online products may not be safety-approved and unregulated kits can contain higher and dangerous levels of the bleaching agent,' says Dr Coyle. 'It is vital that your dentist confirms there are no issues requiring treatment in your mouth before thinking about whitening your teeth. If something seems too good to be true – it usually is!'

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        Is it safe to whiten your teeth at home? (2024)


        Is it safe to whiten your teeth at home? ›

        Abrasive teeth whitening products are generally safe, Dr. Tam said, but scrubbing your teeth with particles that are too hard, or brushing with abrasive material for longer or more often than is recommended, can wear down the enamel.

        Does teeth whitening at home work? ›

        At home teeth whitening procedures work, but they may not always match the results with in-office procedures. To have the pearly white smile you've always wanted, consider booking a dental cleaning and in-office teeth whitening treatment at a trusted dental practice.

        Is it safe to get your teeth Whitened? ›

        However, teeth whitening treatments can cause damage to the enamel if not done correctly or overused. Enamel damage can lead to increased sensitivity, pain, and white spots on your teeth. It's essential to consult with a dentist before using any teeth whitening products to ensure they're safe for your teeth.

        Can I fully whiten my teeth? ›

        Some bleaching systems recommend bleaching your teeth from 2 to 4 hours a day. These usually take 3 to 6 weeks to complete and work best on people with sensitive teeth. Other systems recommend bleaching your teeth at night, while you sleep, which may take only 10 to 14 days to complete.

        Can yellow teeth become white again? ›

        What Can Be Done to Whiten Yellow Teeth? If you're looking for a radical change in the coloring of your teeth, you need professional-grade whitening to get the job done. Your cosmetic dentist can provide treatment that penetrates deep into the enamel and removes years of stains with a powerful bleaching agent.

        Can you whiten your teeth without going to the dentist? ›

        Hydrogen peroxide is a mild bleach that can help to whiten stained teeth . For optimal whitening, a person can try brushing with a mix of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide for 1–2 minutes twice a day for a week. They should only do this occasionally.

        Do whitened teeth look fake? ›

        This is a common concern, but we can assure you that professional teeth whitening treatment won't make your teeth look unnaturally white. If you've seen people whose teeth look too white to be natural, you're probably seeing their veneers, not their real teeth.

        Is hydrogen peroxide safe for teeth? ›

        Several studies suggest that using hydrogen peroxide — whether in a commercial product or at home — can cause damage to your teeth. The risk of damage increases when you: use a very strong hydrogen peroxide solution, such as concentrations above 3 percent.

        How long does homemade teeth whitening last? ›

        If you opt for an at-home teeth whitening kit, you can generally expect your results to last for about four to six months with touch-ups as needed. However, if you choose to get your teeth professionally whitened at the dentist's office, your results could last up to a year or even longer with proper care.

        How do celebrities get their teeth so white? ›

        If you see celebrities with perfectly white, straight, and uniform-looking teeth, they likely have veneers. Unlike teeth whitening, veneers are more permanent. There are various types of materials used, but porcelain and composite are the most common types.

        Who shouldn't get teeth whitening on? ›

        Pregnant and lactating women. People who have restorations such as fillings, implants, crowns and dental bridges. Children under 16 years of age. Patients with periodontal disease, tooth decay, cavities and exposed roots.

        What do dentist recommend for teeth whitening? ›

        Carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide are commonly used in whitening interventions and can readily permeate dental hard tissues.

        What is the fastest teeth whitening at home? ›

        A mixture of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide has been proven to work in some cases for instant results in a pinch. Combine two tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide with one tablespoon of baking soda. Mix it until it becomes a paste and use it to brush your teeth.

        Does baking soda whiten teeth? ›

        Baking soda can be used with some water to remove the stains on the surface of the teeth. It can also be used with hydrogen peroxide to enhance its whitening effects. Baking soda can be used by individuals with regular toothpastes too. It is also used commercially in some teeth whitening products and toothpastes.

        When should you not whiten your teeth? ›

        Anyone allergic to peroxide (the whitening agent) should not use a bleaching product. Gum disease, worn enamel, cavities, and exposed roots. Individuals with gum disease or teeth with worn enamel are generally discouraged from undergoing a tooth-whitening procedure.

        How often should you whiten your teeth at home? ›

        We advise whitening your teeth just once a year, whether professionally or at home. This should keep sensitivity from becoming a problem while helping you maintain a white, natural-looking smile. Typically, the professional-grade whitening kits available from our dental office last about a year.

        How many times a week should I whiten my teeth at home? ›

        Dentists typically recommend getting one or two professional whitening treatments per year. At-home whitening kits can be used for up to 14 consecutive days. People who have gotten professional whitening can maintain their results by using these kits a few times a year.


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