What is teeth whitening and is it safe?

It’s not uncommon for teeth to discolour overtime. Sometimes this can be down to poor hygiene; however this is not always the case: food, disease, medication and even genetics can be the cause of tooth discolouration. You may be wondering how celebrities and social media influencers seem to always have a bright smile. The answer is cosmetic dentistry, of which there are various types: one of them being teeth whitening.

It is reported that 40% of the population in the UK are unhappy with their smile and half of those will undergo some form of cosmetic dental work. Teeth whitening is one of the most popular choices and it is expected that by 2024 that the service will generate £7.40 billion Worldwide.

What is teeth whitening?

Teeth whitening (“Dental Bleaching”) is a non-invasive procedure which aims to lighten and brighten the appearance of the natural teeth. Non-invasive dentistry is a treatment option which aims to conserve and retain healthy tooth structure.
Dental Bleaching causes absolutely no damage to the teeth.

How does Dental Bleaching Work? When we eat, drink, smoke or put anything into our mouth that is coloured our teeth absorb that colour and become stained. The stains are called “chromophores”. Dental bleaching works by applying a bleaching gel which breaks down the chromophores and removes them from the teeth. The gel is completely safe and breaks down in the mouth to release oxygen and water.

The process of treatment

There are a variety of ways teeth whitening is achieved, however they all work in a similar manner. Here at Revitalise our teeth whitening service combines both, an initial visit to our surgery and then a home kit for you to finish the process of in the comfort of your own home.

Initial appointment – We start by taking an impression of your teeth to create a mouthguard to use throughout the treatment. The mouthguard will ensure that the whitening gel only comes into contact with the enamel, the outer layer of your teeth. This ensures your gums are protected from the gel as it could cause irritation. We can then provide you with a kit which enable you to whiten from the privacy and comfort of your own home.

Recall Appointment- After 2-6 weeks of daily bleaching we will review you in our surgery to ensure you are completely satisfied with the outcome.

Ongoing maintenance – The average person requires around 2-3 days of “top up bleaching” every 3-4 months to maintain the bright white smile: this is largely dependent of habits (smokers and heavy red wine drinkers need to top up more often). We are happy to provide the top up bleach on request.

Is teeth whitening safe?

Because tooth whitening uses a gel that is often referred to as a bleach, a common misconception is that teeth whitening can damage your teeth. Or even be harmful to your overall health. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth: teeth whitening is an extremely safe procedure and very rarely causes side effects.

Possible side effects can include;

  • Sensitive teeth – Your teeth may become more sensitive following whitening due to the gel coming in contact with the tooth’s enamel. This will likely clear up one to two days after the treatment. However, sometimes this may last several weeks. That being said, there are options available to help you cope, such as a sodium fluoride gel. We will discuss after care at your initial consultation and again after the treatment.

If you already have sensitive teeth you should mention this to your dentist before proceeding with treatment. As we can build precautions into your bleaching plan to minimise this.

  • Gum irritation – If the whitening gel comes into contact with your gums, gingival irritation can occur. This is usually short lived and will go away after treatment. At Revitalise we take every measure possible to minimise the chances of your gums being exposed to the whitening gel.

What about home teeth whitening kits?

The substances used by a qualified dentist are at a much higher concentration than the ones available in DIY teeth whitening kits. Meaning the service we offer is much more effective and reliable.

Be wary of any DIY kits or beauty salons offering a teeth whitening service: this is illegal. You will not be offered a full dental examination beforehand and this may result in health issues following the procedure. You should be aware that you should not bleach your teeth if you have active gum disease or cavities.

For the best possible service and outcome we recommend you visit a dentist offering teeth whitening services. Don’t let your smile suffer to save a small amount of money!

Find out more

At Revitalise Dental Centre we believe everyone should have a smile they are confident with. Book in for a consultation today and discover how we can help you achieve a brighter and happier smile.

About the author


Jason Smithson is an internationally renowned cosmetic and reconstructive dentist formerly of London’s Harley Street Medical District, he is now based in St Agnes, Cornwall where he offers dentistry, dental-education and medico-legal expert witness services. World-class crowns, veneers and direct composite resin artistry are delivered with uncompromising standards bespoke to the patient’s individual requirements. He is considered to be the ‘Dentist’s Dentist’ and regularly treats other dentists; many of whom travel from throughout the UK to see him. Dr Smithson is an ‘In Demand’ presenter and is perhaps the most prolific in the UK. He is considered by his peers to be an authority on aesthetic dentistry and has presented to audiences on every continent over the past 10 years. He is a true innovator and pioneered the use of Dental Operating Microscope in teaching Direct Resin Artistry to other dentists in the UK; he is the author of numerous articles and a book on crowns in aesthetic dentistry. Visit Jason's Website

Connect with Jason Smithson on LinkedIn.

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What our Clients say

Marion visited Revitalise to reclaim her smile with a complete implant treatment. In this video, she explains how the staff at the practice put her at ease and why she recommends Revitalise to everyone she meets.

Client: Marion
Treatment: Complete mouth secured with implants

“The minute I met Martin, I just knew he was so calm and relaxing. So then we had a discussion and Martin said what he could do and it had to be what our pocket could afford as well and we went ahead with it. The experience I had at this dentist was unbelievable, it was a journey I loved every minute of.”

Client: Dee
Treatment: Dental Implants

“There’s always smiling, handshakes, hugs and plenty of tea and coffee. They looked after my husband who was there for the day. They do the sedation and Hayley looked after me. Obviously I was unaware of exactly what they were doing, but they always make you feel so comfortable. Although you’re nervous, I don’t think I could’ve gone and got the same treatment anywhere else.”

Client: Carolyn
Treatment: Dental Implants

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