5 teeth whitening questions you never thought to ask


Award-winning cosmetic dentist Zaki Kanaan offers you some dazzling top tips for a brighter smile

Woman Teeth Before and After Whitening. Oral Care


  • Are the over-the-counter kits that can be bought in shops and chemists safe?

  • Not all of them and, in fact, most of them are illegal as they contain percentages of peroxide above the current legal limit. The law as it stands means that over-the-counter (OTC) products cannot contain over 0.1% hydrogen peroxide. Unfortunately, to whiten your teeth you need percentages more than this. Many OTC whitening kits contravene this and often use products that are not peroxide based to try to get round the legal limit. Often, however, the alternative products used in some kits are unsafe (such as chlorine dioxide), which can damage the enamel of teeth and cause soft tissue burns and sensitivity.

  • Do they whiten teeth as well as the systems I can get at my dentist?

  • Most kits bought over the counter do not work as effectively as those administered by a dental professional.


  • How long will teeth whitening last?

  • Teeth whitening does not last forever and it requires some maintenance to keep teeth white. Smoking obviously causes a lot of staining and I advise anyone to quit for all sorts of health reasons. How often you maintain your bright smile depends on whether you smoke or drink lots of black tea or coffee or red wine. In most cases, maintenance is simple and requires you to wear a custom-made whitening tray once every two to three months. Other methods to maintain white teeth include using some whitening strips. Whitening toothpastes can help but are less effective than topping up with whitening gel and caution needs to be taken to ensure they are non-abrasive as some whitening toothpastes can be.

  • Is there a risk to any restorations I already have?

  • Teeth whitening is quite a safe procedure and there should be no risks to any existing restorations, veneers or crowns. However, you need to bear in mind that these restorations do not change colour with the whitening gel.

  • How do I know which system is best for me?

  • There are several systems or brands available and some will work better for certain patients. A dental professional is the best person to assess your smile and advise on which system is best for you.

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