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Dental Excellence UK Blog

Why Teeth Whitening Should Be Done Under The Guidance Of A Dental Professional

Posted by Dental Excellence UK on Sep 30, 2021 2:08:55 PM
Dental Excellence UK
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Do you notice that you smile with your mouth closed, or talk with your hand in front of your lips? Do you avoid having your photo taken, or feel self-conscious about the colour of your teeth? Or, perhaps you are a celebrity or influencer, where your look is your brand, and so you pay close attention to looking your best at all times? If any of these sound like you, then you might like to consider professional teeth whitening.

Sometimes, no matter how much we brush our teeth, our teeth can still look stained and dull. Teeth can also be affected by ageing, smoking, and consuming certain foods and drinks. Unfortunately, this is just a fact of life and a natural process, which is why more and more people are turning to teeth whitening procedures.

However, a fear of the dentist or a tight budget can lead you to begin considering DIY over-the-counter teeth whitening kits. This is where we say stop! ‘Off the shelf’ teeth whitening can actually cause more harm than good, sometimes even staining your teeth more in the long run.

Here at Dental Excellence, we understand the reasons why you might turn to DIY teeth whitening kits, but we are here to show you that teeth whitening should only be done under the guidance of a dental professional.

Therefore, let us take a look at the benefits of professional teeth whitening, what professionals use to whiten your teeth, and any risks that can occur by doing the teeth whitening process without the help of a dental professional.


What Are The Benefits Of Professional Teeth Whitening?

In this day and age, teeth whitening is very common and especially popular in the celebrity and influencer circles. This is because there are many benefits to having a pearly white, healthy-looking smile, which more and more people are taking advantage of.

If you are considering whitening your teeth, you might be wondering whether it is better to get your teeth whitened by a professional or to just buy an over-the-counter kit. Whilst both of these options will give you a whiter smile, professional teeth whitening is by far the better option if you want the best, long-lasting results. 

To assist you in your decision, here are ten of the most important benefits of professional teeth whitening. 

  • Boost your self-esteem 

Many people base the majority of their self-esteem on their physical appearance, as it is something that we all have to see every day when we look in the mirror. For people that have insecurities about their looks or their natural teeth, this can have a huge impact on their self-worth. With this in mind, a whiter smile can massively improve your self-esteem. 

  • People will be drawn to your smile 

When we meet someone new, smiling is one of the key qualities that people look at. It is scientifically proven through peer-reviewed studies that smiling can make you appear more attractive to potential romantic partners. As professional teeth whitening can reduce self-consciousness and encourage you to smile more, then you are more likely to draw people in, and make those encounters as positive as possible. 

  • Healthier mouth 

During the teeth whitening process, your dental professional will remove the stains on your teeth in a healthy way, without causing any damage to your tooth enamel. This will allow your teeth to become stronger and healthier over time. As oral health is an important factor in your overall physical health, a healthier mouth can reduce your risk of developing problems in the future, which can be as extreme as organ failure, heart conditions, and cancer. 

  • Fast process

When you think of dental or cosmetic procedures, you might assume that they take a long time out of your day. However, professional teeth whitening can take no time at all. In fact, it only takes around an hour. Though some over-the-counter products claim the same, the results you will get from a professional in the same timeframe will be incomparable. 

  • 100% safe when done by a professional 

With over-the-counter teeth whitening gel, you never know what the side effects might be. In some extreme cases, the teeth whitening product might damage your gums and your tooth enamel. However, the professionals know what they are doing, as it is a standard, approved cosmetic treatment that has been tried and tested. This means that professional teeth whitening is 100% safe

  • Better personal hygiene

It goes without saying that many people that you meet might make assumptions about you based on your looks. One of these assumptions is that if you have stained teeth, then you don’t have good oral hygiene, even if the reality is that you brush and floss every single day. Therefore, professional tooth whitening ensures that you are always putting your best foot forward and improves the perception of your personal hygiene. 

  • Improve your mental health 

Not only can professional teeth whitening improve your physical health, but it can also improve your mental health too. Bad oral hygiene can lead to numerous cognitive issues later in life, not to mention the mental anguish that comes with continuous stress about your physical appearance. Thus, professional teeth whitening can improve your confidence, eliminating the appearance of your teeth as a stressor. 

  • More opportunities 

Having a bright, white smile can open up more opportunities in life, especially if you are in the celebrity and influencer world where appearances directly reflect your brand. With the confidence that comes with a professionally whitened smile, you will be able to make a big impact in interviews, meetings, and whilst producing internet content, which in turn can have a significant impact on your gross income. 

  • Personalised experience 

Every mouth is different, and so every dental procedure should be personalised to your specific needs and requirements. However, over-the-counter whitening methods are a ‘one size fits all’ solution, which can actually do more harm than good to your oral health. Instead, professional teeth whitening will be tailored to your mouth specifically, ensuring that the procedure will be the exact right thing for you. 

  • Affordable cosmetic procedure 

It has to be said that there are many cosmetic procedures out there that can change your life entirely and revolutionise your quality of life. Unfortunately, many of these cosmetic procedures can be outside of some people’s budgets. On the other hand, professional teeth whitening is quick, easy, and affordable, offering you life-changing benefits without a life-changing price tag. 

Overall benefits

Overall, professional teeth whitening is much safer and healthier than using any DIY or over-the-counter kits. To maximise your results, and the long-lasting health of your teeth, teeth whitening by a professional is a must. This is because professionals know exactly what they are doing, allowing them to customise the process to best suit your mouth and its needs. They are also highly trained to be able to use professional-grade whitening agents safely, of which you can find out more below.

What Do Professional Dentists Use For Whitening?

Whitening agents used in professional whitening treatments  

Firstly, let us take a look at the whitening agents that professional dentists use for whitening. The most popular and most commonly used are different strengths of hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide. Here are some more details about these whitening agents:

  • 6% Hydrogen Peroxide - This is the strongest whitening gel to be approved by the EU, as the equivalent of 18% carbamide peroxide. The hydrogen peroxide gel is applied in bespoke whitening trays for 30-90 minute sessions. 
  • 16% Carbamide Peroxide - This gives comparable results to the above, except the ideal treatment time is 2 to 4 hours due to the chemical makeup of the carbamide peroxide. 
  • 10% Carbamide Peroxide - This is the original whitening agent for at-home treatments and teeth whitening kits. It can be very effective when applied overnight for up to 8 hours. 
  • 5% Carbamide Peroxide - Though extremely rare in the market, some dentists might use this strength as a recommended treatment plan for patients who have very sensitive teeth. However, it is very unlikely that you will encounter this whitening agent. 

Cosmetic treatment options professional dentists might use for tooth whitening

Professional tooth whitening treatments have developed significantly over the years, and there are now numerous options available to people who want to have whiter teeth. Now that you know the whitening agents that professionals use for teeth whitening, let us take a look at the techniques that dentists can use. These treatment options mainly fall into four categories: toothpaste, microabrasion, air polishing, and peroxides. 

Whitening toothpaste

Whitening toothpaste is readily available over the counter. However, a professional dentist can show you how to apply the whitening toothpaste and advise you on how to get the best effects from them. They might also advise you on what whitening toothpaste would be best for your needs, for example, if you have other issues with your teeth such as tooth sensitivity or eroded tooth enamel


Abrasives tackle surface stains, leading to a whiter and brighter smile. Microabrasion can be used to gently remove fluorosis staining on discoloured teeth in less than 0.2mm enamel depth. A combination of silicon carbide and hydrochloric acid is used to perform the chemical abrasion. 

Air polishing 

Air polishing is something you might be familiar with if you go for a regular scale and polish. Prophylaxis treatments use a silicon-coated powder to remove surface stains of the tooth without causing any damage to the enamel. Regular air polishing is a simple dental treatment plan that is typically enough to keep smiles looking pearly white. 

Peroxide whitening strips 

Dentists might use peroxide whitening strips, which are more professional and more reliable than the whitening strips that you can get yourself over the counter. Generic bleaching trays can be used rather than a custom tray, which can make this treatment quicker and more cost-effective. 

Peroxide whitening trays 

Professionals can also use carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide gel in varying concentrations to whiten the teeth, with a custom-made tray that ensures the gel is applied evenly across the smile. 

In-surgery whitening 

Teeth can be whitened in a surgical procedure that uses higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide. As it penetrates the surface of the teeth quickly, results can be seen immediately. However, to make sure that the results remain as white as possible, home treatments or top-up treatments are often recommended as aftercare. 

‘Walking bleach’ technique 

If you have teeth that are ‘non-vital’ or ‘dead’ in that they don’t have access to blood flow, a professional might still be able to lighten your teeth using a ‘walking bleach’ technique. This allows dentists to whiten teeth that have been discoloured by trauma over a long period of time in a controlled manner as to not further damage enamel surfaces.

Does Tooth Whitening Carry Any Risks?

Whilst tooth whitening is considered safe, it can still carry some risks even when carried out by a professional. After having your professional tooth whitening treatments, you may experience the following side effects. 

Teeth sensitivity 

After the teeth whitening procedure, you may find that your teeth have become more sensitive. This is more likely to occur on one of your first couple of treatments and may get better over time as your teeth get used to the process. However, dentists might recommend using products with potassium nitrate and sodium fluoride gel to treat the sensitivity. 

Irritated gums 

You might also feel some gum irritation or gingival irritation. This can happen if the whitening product comes into contact with your gums by accident. However, this is less likely to happen in a professional treatment than it would at home and should go away after the procedure. 

Results may not last if you have bad eating, drinking, and oral habits 

It is worth also noting that teeth whitening is not a permanent cosmetic procedure. Treatments will have to be carried out on a fairly regular basis to fight extrinsic and intrinsic discolouration. 

This also means that your eating, drinking, and oral hygiene habits can have a significant effect on how long your results will last. Even after you have had your teeth whitened, your teeth can still become stained if you don’t take care of them. Therefore, it can become good practice to brush your teeth or rinse after eating or drinking things that you know will cause staining, such as after a cup of tea or coffee. 

Problems That Can Occur When Using A DIY Kit

Many people turn to ‘off the shelf’ or online whitening kits to whiten their smile, especially if you don’t think you can afford specialised dental services. However, the dangers of DIY teeth whitening kits ultimately outweigh any perceived benefits. With this in mind, here are some of the need-to-know problems that can occur when using a DIY whitening kit. 

Product not effective, providing no real results

Some over-the-counter DIY whitening kits do not contain enough of the whitening product or levels of hydrogen peroxide to be effective. This means that you might not find any real results from the whitening kit. 

Products may not be safe 

On the other hand, some home kits might actually have levels of hydrogen peroxide that are too high, so high in fact that they should be illegal teeth whitening kits. The standard for European Union teeth whitening products (still largely adopted in the UK) has a limit of 0.1% hydrogen for ‘off the shelf’ purchasable whitening products. However, in the past, The Guardian has found illegal teeth whitening products available online that contain 150 times more hydrogen peroxide than is allowed

Damaged enamel and sensitivity 

Some teeth whitening kits also contain harmful chemicals that aren’t noted on their label. One of these chemicals is chlorine dioxide, an acid used to disinfect and clean swimming pools! If you use whitening kits that include chlorine dioxide, it can seriously erode your teeth and gums, destroying the enamel and causing teeth sensitivity

Blistering and burning of the gums 

Even if you get a DIY kit that does have the right levels and the right chemicals in it, hydrogen peroxide itself is a bleaching product. Though it is safe enough for the teeth, high doses can cause chemical burns to the lining of your mouth. Thus, if it is incorrectly applied, it can also cause blistering and burning of your gums. If ingested, it can also lead to throat, gut, and stomach burns. 

Permanent gum recession 

One way that DIY kits might attempt to solve this problem is by providing you with whitening gel trays. However, these lab-made trays will be a generic ‘one size fits all solution’ and so will not perfectly fit your mouth. The issue with this is that, as they are not custom-made whitening trays, the bleaching gel can spill out of the sides of the tray. Therefore, the hydrogen peroxide can still blister and burn the gums, which can lead to permanent gum recession. 

Permanent teeth damage 

So, if the DIY whitening gels are too risky, you should just use an abrasive product instead, right? Wrong. If DIY whitening products have not given you the desired results, then you might be tempted to turn to other whitening agents such as toothpaste. Though they do not contain hydrogen peroxide, the abrasives contained within the products can be too harsh on your teeth. 

Over time, using a harsh abrasive can cause significant damage to the enamel of your teeth, ironically causing more discolouration than you potentially had before. Using abrasive products to try and whiten your teeth can ultimately cause permanent damage to your teeth. 

Final thoughts 

The best way to make sure that you don’t cause any damage to your teeth whilst trying to whiten them is to visit a dentist. Your dentist will conduct a full consultation, examination and cleaning, followed by tailored advice that will give you your desired results without causing unnecessary damage to your enamel or gums. 

Your dentist will also be able to check for cavities or other problems that should be treated before carrying out any whitening procedures. This will allow you to delay any whitening treatments if they might have a negative effect on your oral health. 

Ultimately, your dentist will be able to offer expert insight, provide professional advice, and talk you through what to expect every step of the way, ensuring that the teeth whitening treatment you receive is the best fit for you.

Get in touch

Get in touch with the Dental Excellence team today to begin discussing the process of professional teeth whitening and how you can get your dream results. You can book a consultation online or contact us directly through the contact form on our website. To receive the treatment, you'll be invited into our luxury facility, which is based in Liverpool.

Topics: aesthetics