Tooth Whitening

Frequently Asked Questions

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Tooth whitening can be a very effective way of lightening the natural colour of your teeth without removing any of the tooth surface or damaging it. Usually the original shade of the tooth is whitened to a lighter colour, rather than being turned completely white.


As we get older our teeth get darker. This is partly due to our getting older, but it is also caused by the foods we eat and drink, and by other habits such as smoking. Tea, coffee, blackcurrant juice, red wine and other foods that have strong colours can have an effect on the overall colour of our teeth. Teeth may also darken as a result of some antibiotics.
Some people naturally have a more grey shade of teeth. Other people have white spots on their teeth. This can be caused by early tooth decay, or illness when the tooth was forming.
There are a number of reasons why you might get your teeth whitened. Everyone is different; and just as our hair and skin colour vary, so do our teeth. Very few people have brilliant-white teeth.


Professional bleaching is the most usual method of tooth whitening. Your dentist will assess you first to see whether tooth whitening is suitable for you. They will tell you about the options you have for tooth whitening and which will be the most suitable for you.
The most common type of whitening is called ‘dentist-supervised home whitening’. You will have trays made specially to fit into your mouth like gum-shields. The whitening gel is then put in the trays and you will be given a routine to follow at home.



The total length of the home bleaching treatment can vary depending on how discoloured your teeth are and the shade you want to get to. It can usually be finished within two to four weeks. Your dentist will need to make a thin mouthguard and will take impressions for this at the first appointment. Once your dentist has started the treatment, you will need to continue the treatment at home. This means regularly applying the whitening product over two to four weeks, for 30 minutes to one hour at a time. The dentist will discuss with you exactly how long you should keep the tray in your mouth. It is important to follow the instructions that you are given to get the best result.


The effects of whitening are thought to last up to three years. However, this will vary from person to person. The effect is less likely to last as long if you smoke, or eat or drink products that can stain your teeth. Ask your dentist for their opinion before you start the treatment.


Some people may find that their teeth become sensitive to cold during or after the treatment. Others may have discomfort in the gums, a sore throat or white patches on the gum line. These symptoms are usually temporary and should disappear within a few days of the treatment finishing.
If any of these side effects continue you should go to your dentist.