Discover Safe Teeth Whitening for a Whiter, Brighter Smile

How Safe Is Teeth Whitening?

Most people want a whiter, brighter smile, and there are many products and treatments on the market to help achieve this. But how does teeth whitening work, and is it safe? Is it worth the risk to go for a brighter smile? 

Even if you brush and floss twice a day, there are many reasons why your teeth may be yellow or stained. Although certain changes may help to reduce surface stains, some factors that cause teeth to look yellow or darker in colour cannot be avoided.

In this post, we’ll look at some of the pros and cons of teeth whitening, so you can decide what’s best for you. We have tried to cover all the questions we get asked, but if you have any others, please WhatsApp us on 07385297562 or book a free Smile Makeover Video Consultation.

How Does Teeth Whitening Work?

Depending on the depth of the stains and the cause of discolouration, a professional hygiene visit can whiten teeth. Often this is not enough; however, teeth should always be professionally cleaned by a hygienist before using any bleaching products.

Teeth whitening vs bleaching

Bleaching refers to teeth whitening products containing hydrogen peroxide (yes, the stuff that dyes hair blonde, but a completely safe version!). The concentration of bleach in home whitening products is much lower than the concentration used by dentists when you have professional teeth whitening. 

Laser teeth whitening still uses bleach; however, this is activated by ultraviolet light. Advanced teeth whitening products don’t require light activation, and many dentists feel this is simply a gimmick used by beauty salons. 

Is Teeth Whitening Safe?

Professional teeth cleaning is the safest way to get whiter, brighter teeth. Decades of extensive research has shown that using hydrogen peroxide for teeth whitening is safe when performed correctly.

But let’s be completely honest about teeth whitening kits — there are risks when teeth whitening products containing hydrogen peroxide are not used by dentists. Although the percentage of hydrogen peroxide in home whitening kits is much lower than used by a dentist during professional teeth whitening, it can still be harmful. In contact with oral tissues, even a low percentage of hydrogen peroxide can cause irritation and damage gums. Enamel can also be damaged if it is left on for too long or used regularly. 

A safer way to keep your teeth white is with a good quality electric toothbrush. 

Common Side Effects of Teeth Whitening

Side effects from teeth whitening with bleach are unlikely when teeth whitening is done by a dentist using professional products. However, there are a few temporary side effects including: 

Increased sensitivity to temperature

Your teeth may become more sensitive to hot and cold, which can cause discomfort or pain when eating or drinking. Typically, this will not last very long and can be reduced by using toothpaste for sensitive teeth. 

Pain or tingling sensations

You may experience pain that feels a little like mini electric shocks in your teeth or tingling sensations. It is worth noting when these happen, and if they are causing you any concern, speak with your dentist. 

Whiter Teeth Guide

A whiter, brighter smile can make you feel fantastic. Using a whitening toothpaste, electric toothpaste, and flossing twice a day can all help keep your teeth white. It is also important to avoid these top three things that may discolour or stain them again. 

Three causes of yellow teeth and stains

1. Food 

What you eat can change the colour of your teeth. Sauces containing tomatoes, spices and dark berries contain pigments that can stain the enamel. Fruits with a high acid content, such as oranges and lemons, can also cause yellow stains.

2. Drinks

The obvious culprits are coffee, tea and red wine, but white wine and acidic soft drinks can also cause your teeth to look more yellow.

3. Tobacco and vaping

You probably know smoking or chewing tobacco products will stain your teeth, but vaping with nicotine can also make your teeth look more yellow. There are also numerous chemicals in vaping liquids that may stain teeth.

Not everyone has white teeth naturally. Beneath the enamel is dentin, which can be yellow, brownish or grey in tone. The depth of the colour of dentin determines how white teeth will appear. Dentin cannot be whitened, so if that is the cause of your teeth’s discolouration, teeth whitening may not be effective.

This can be a result of:

  • Age

Like your skin, your teeth are alive, and teeth also age. Over time, the enamel, the whiter outer layer of your teeth, becomes thinner. When this happens, the inner layer, called dentin, shows — making your teeth look more yellow.

  • Grinding

Enamel is worn down by tooth grinding, also called bruxism. It may also crack or chip away. This has two effects — surface stains stick more to the chipped areas, and the yellow dentin becomes more visible.

  • Trauma 

If you have an impact with something hard due to an accident or assault, your teeth may produce extra dentin, making them look darker.   

  • Surgery 

Surgery performed under a general anaesthetic requires a tube to be put down your throat. There is a risk that teeth could be chipped or damaged when this is done, which is why you may notice your teeth change colour following surgery.

  • Medications and radiation therapy

Certain medications, antibiotics, chemotherapy and head and neck radiation therapy, can cause teeth to look darker or more yellow.  

Your dentist will be able to advise you why your teeth are not as white as you would like them to be and if teeth whitening is likely to work. 

At Smile Stories Cosmetic Dentists Bournemouth, our Teeth Whitening Wednesdays give you the chance to have professional teeth whitening and hygienist stain removal for the whitest teeth possible for only £359 (saving £280).

To claim one of our limited spots, fill in our form, and our client-care coordinator will contact you to let you know when the next space is available. 



Dr Gareth Edwards BDS (Hons) MFDS RCPS (Glasg) is a Poole and Bournemouth-based dentist who qualified with honours. He has a keen interest in aesthetic dentistry and orthodontics. For more information, click here.

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