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Jan 2021
14th
 

Over the counter vs professional tooth whitening


It is a new year, Christmas is over and January is possibly the most depressing month of the year. However, a new year also means a new start and there is no better feel good dental treatment than tooth whitening. Everyone deserves whiter teeth and with modern technology, amazing results can be achieved. With a plethora of treatment methods on the market, it can be confusing which option to choose in terms of best results and costs. We will therefore provide a guide to over the counter tooth whitening vs professional whitening methods.

Over the Counter Tooth Whitening

The most easily accessible teeth whitening product would be whitening toothpastes. A popular one is iWhite which claims to improve surface and deeper staining to whiten teeth. The toothpaste contains:

  1. A whitening substance called Phathalimido-Peroxy-Caproic Acid (aka PAP) which deep cleans and prevents bacteria growth
  2. Micro-purifying crystals polish which remove surface discolouration
  3. Polyphosphatic particles to prevent teeth staining and plaque

    In general, whitening toothpastes are fine as a general toothpaste but they can be abrasive especially pastes targeted to smokers. The overall increase in whiteness will be minimal so do not expect visible differences! These pastes are also more expensive than general toothpaste.


Another popular tooth whitening method are whitening strips. These are especially popular in the USA with Crest White Strips having the market share. Although not available in the UK due to the high percentage of hydrogen peroxide, there are versions that can be purchased from chemists such as Boots. In most cases, the strips contain 0.1% hydrogen peroxide and they have to be applied to the teeth for 1 hour per day for 14 days. This percentage is too low to visibly whiten teeth but they can act as a maintenance treatment after professional whitening or to remove mild surface stains. Such a low percentage means that the strips are perfectly safe to use. Spotlight whitening strips from Boots are £40 for a 2 week supply.

At home LED whitening has taken the internet by storm recently with influencers promoting products such as HiSmile. With such promotion, millions of these kits have been sold worldwide but do they actually work? In a word, No! The ingredients on the HiSmile package state:

Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Chlorite, Citric Acid, Aloe Leaf Juice, Pomegranate Seed Extract, Chamomile Flower Extract, Glycerol, Propylene Glycol, Deionized water, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum, Menthol. The ingredients in bold are what they claim to be the key ingredients. Now, sodium chlorite is actually a bleaching chemical used in the paper industry and in the food industry. However, the chemical needs to manufactured at a very low PH of around 2-3 to be effective. Needless to say, using any product in your mouth at this PH would be highly dangerous! There are no percentages stated on the package hence amounts are likely to be negligible. Ultimately, a complete waste of money and time.

Professional Tooth Whitening

As dentists, we would always advise seeing a professional prior to tooth whitening. Legally we can provide up to 6% hydrogen peroxide in our treatments which has shown to have great results and very safe on tooth enamel. Hydrogen peroxide breaks down the molecular bonds that makes up discolouration and stains on and inside of teeth which inherently lightens the tooth.

It is really important that your teeth and gums are checked for overall health to provide the very best treatment. For example, if you suffer from gum recession, it is vital that the exposed root surfaces are covered or protected from the whitening process or this could lead to extreme sensitivity. X rays are also needed to check inside of teeth and the presence of tooth decay would mean tooth whitening is a big no no. The decay must be treated first prior to any whitening process. Another important fact is that the gums and teeth should be healthy and clean prior to treatment. If the teeth are covered by plaque, a biofilm which is a layer of bacteria and other micro organisms, tooth whitening will not penetrate this surface well enough to have a great effect. The same can be said for calculus (the hard yellow substance only hygienists can remove) and dietary staining. The cleaner your teeth, the better the overall whitening process.

There are 2 types of professional whitening:

1. Take home kit. This is where scans or traditional impressions are taken of your teeth and bespoke whitening trays are made to closely fit over the top. Only you can wear these trays. The gel is then placed carefully within the tray , in a specific was which we will demonstrate. They should then be worn for a minimum of 1 hour per day or overnight for 14 days to have the best results. For very dark teeth or teeth that have been discoloured due to a genetic issue or anti biotic staining, you may need to wear the trays for a few months.

2. In Surgery LED whitening. One of the most popular techniques, is the Phillips LED ZOOM whitening system which is our favourite whitening process. The overall treatment takes about 90 minutes with 4 cycles of LED whitening. The LED light emits far less heat compared to halogen light which was used in the past and there is far less sensitivity as a result. The light activates the hydrogen peroxide allowing it to disperse and break down the molecular bonds. At the end of the treatment, not only will you have lighter teeth but a take home kit is also provided to continue the process for another 3-5 days for optimal results. This kit can be used over time , say 6 monthly or yearly intervals as a top up. After all, once you have straight teeth you never want to go back!

Take a look at some of our whitening results

The Cost of Tooth Whitening

Our fees for tooth whitening are £275 for a take home kit and £499 for the in surgery Phillips ZOOM LED whitening including a take home kit.

Contact Us

If you would like tooth whitening on 2021, don't let Covid 19 get in your way. We are fully open and operating a super safe and hygienic practice. Call us on 0207 7311162, e mail info@progressivedentistry, WhatsApp 07508 663942

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