Professional Teeth Whitening Options | Smile Stories

Professional Teeth Whitening Options Demystified

Let’s face it, sparkling white teeth are attractive.

More and more people are looking for ways to lighten and brighten their pearly whites than ever before. But there are many professional whitening options out there…what can you do?

Here, I’m going to talk you through the products and services provided by dentists to give you an idea of why they’re the best way to turn manky yellow to pearly white.

There’s a difference between dark and stained

There’s a reason the governing body of dentistry recommends whitening exclusively by a dentist. We know what we’re talking about.

If you come to see me at the surgery and say “I want to whiten my teeth”, there are two things I’ll look at:

  1. Is there staining on the outside of your teeth causing marks?
  2. Are your teeth yellow and dark from the inside?

External staining: You need a professional clean

professional teeth whitening

Stains build up over time. The major culprits are tobacco, coffee, red wine, curry…you get the idea.

The good news is these can be removed with a professional clean from your dentist or hygienist.

There are two great ways to remove stains.

  1. Professional Hygiene visit – The classic!
  2. Air Flow – Here, small sand particles are used to remove the toughest stains and it works wonders.

In the UK you can call your practice and book an appointment with the hygienist for stain removal. You do not need to see your dentist first. What are you waiting for?

Darkening from within: Professional teeth whitening is needed


If your teeth are dark and yellow without external stains, then no amount of cleaning or magical whitening toothpaste is going to work. This is when we would use dental bleach to gently and safely brighten them. Dental bleach is by far the best professional teeth whitening option.

What’s the professional teeth whitening process?

Briefly, your dentist will do an examination and check your teeth are healthy and you’re right for teeth whitening.

They’ll then take moulds and order your bespoke trays which you will then gradually and safely place one of two solutions in. You’ll then wear these trays for a few weeks depending on your starting colour and dentists’ instructions.

The solutions used for professional teeth whitening options:

  1. Hydrogen peroxide
  2. Carbamide peroxide


Now for the sciency bit… How does peroxide whiten teeth?

These two chemicals break down (or oxidise) when they meet other chemicals that they can interact with. This includes those that cause your teeth to stain. So, you place hydrogen peroxide gel in your tray and place it in your mouth for 2 hours. Your teeth have microscopic pores and tubes on the surface. Over this period of time, the gel seeps into those pores and reacts with the chemicals to remove them.

How long does professional teeth whitening take?

This depends on whether we use carbamide or hydrogen peroxide to whiten your teeth. One is not better than the other and the choice is influenced by your lifestyle.

The whitening gel has a time span before it gets used up and no longer works. This is why it needs replacing daily.

Carbamide peroxide breaks down into hydrogen peroxide and something called urea (which can also help to break down stains but let’s not go there at the moment).  Because it has this extra step it means it takes longer to be used up during the stain removal. This means it’s perfect for those who don’t have time during the day to whiten their teeth. Pop it in before bed and it’ll work its magic overnight.

Hydrogen peroxide works faster so is great if you have time to whiten during the day.

Which strength peroxide works best for professional teeth whitening? 

A few years ago the EU placed a restriction on the strength of bleach we are allowed to use for professional teeth whitening. This means the legal limit is either 6% hydrogen peroxide or 18% carbamide peroxide equivalent. They did this for a good reason as anything above this can be unsafe. Sensitivity, gum trouble and even tooth damage can occur.

They also restricted over the counter products to less than 0.1% hydrogen peroxide. Frankly, it isn’t worth buying.

So what do I recommend?

So now you know about the magic ingredient what do I actually recommend?

My preferred professional teeth whitening option is Boutique. Both come as carbamide and hydrogen peroxide options and both have extra chemicals added to the gel to allow whitening without sensitivity.

The biggest reason is that I recommend Boutique is it can GUARANTEE a bright white shade. As in 100%, you will have white teeth. This means both you and I have the peace of mind that we will get a great end result.


 Dr Gareth Edwards BDS (Hons) MFDS RCPS (Glasg) is Bournemouth and Poole based dentist who qualified from Cardiff Dental School with honours. He has a keen interest in teeth whitening, orthodontics and aesthetic dentistry and is a certified Invisalign provider.

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