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Tooth whitening policy | Oral Health Foundation

Tooth whitening policy | Oral Health Foundation – New Update 2023

We are a small group of passionate dental professionals who have been writing for the public for over 10 years. Our mission is to provide accurate, up-to-date oral health information so people can make informed decisions about their dental care.
We know that excellent oral health is essential for overall health and well-being, and we are committed to helping our readers achieve and maintain healthy teeth and gums.

Tooth whitening can be a highly effective way of lightening the colour of the natural teeth without removing any of the tooth surfaces.  It does not work on dentures, crowns, white fillings or bridges. 

The active ingredient in tooth whitening products is usually hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.  As this active ingredient is broken down oxygen gets into the enamel on the teeth and the tooth colour is made lighter.

In accordance with EU law, over the counter home whitening kits in the UK contain too little hydrogen peroxide (0.1%) to noticeably lighten the teeth.  The legal limit for a dentist to use is between 0.1% and 6% hydrogen peroxide.  These higher percentage products used by a dental professional will produce a safe, effective and long-lasting tooth lightening result.

The first treatment should be carried out by the dentist (or hygienist or therapist on the instruction of the dentist), after this the patient can continue the treatment at home.

Tooth whitening should not be carried out on anyone under the age of 18 years old.

It is illegal for anyone other than dentists or their teams to carry out tooth whitening. Anyone else such as, salons, beauticians and pop-up booths, do not have the correct training or knowledge.  They could permanently damage your teeth and gums and will not know how to treat you should something go wrong.

It is possible to purchase tooth whitening products over the Internet.  However many of these products contain many times over the legal limit of hydrogen peroxide which can result in extreme sensitivity, burned gums and/or blistered lips or even permanent damage to the enamel of the teeth.

Many of the non-peroxide solutions that are used or supplied by beauticians and other illegal providers will not have gone through the rigorous safety and efficacy checks that a dental material will have gone through.  Therefore any lightening effect is likely to be short-term.

The Oral Health Foundation recommends speaking to your dentist if you are interested in having your teeth whitened.  They will be able to check your mouth and assess whether you are suitable for the treatment.  Then they will choose the correct solution to achieve the desired result.

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We are a small group of enthusiasts who have been writing dental articles for a few years. We believe that good oral health is the key to a happy and healthy life. Our goal is to provide accurate, up-to-date information on all aspects of dentistry so that our readers can make informed decisions about their oral health.
We know choosing a dentist or dental treatment can be overwhelming, but we hope our articles will help make the process a little easier.
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