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The Tooth The Whole Truth About Teeth Whitening

mouth holds spanner between teeth

So many of us dream of having pearly white gnashers, but with such an array of options available it can all be very confusing. Not only that, but some options available can do more harm than good to our teeth.

Thankfully, leading Dental Hygienist and founder of ‘London Hygienist’, Anna Middleton, sorts fact from fiction and clarifies which of those treatments are really worth investing in.


There is no denying that everybody wants a whiter, brighter smile.

A great smile makes us feel confident and more attractive – so who wouldn’t want one?!

However, with so many whitening options to choose from, it’s hard to know what is effective, and what is just a gimmick.

Many companies are jumping on the whitening bandwagon as a way to sell more products, but as consumers, we must do due diligence.  

When it comes to teeth whitening, you can’t always look for the cheapest, fastest solution. It usually doesn’t exist. As the old age saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

 While there are numerous ways to whiten your teeth (just a quick Google search will show you heaps of options), some are more effective than others.

You also have to keep in mind that teeth naturally vary in shade due to your unique genetic makeup, so it might be impossible to achieve the shade you want simply by using some of the so-called whitening products out there.

Hygienist Anna Middleton provides her expert comment on some of these popular teeth whitening methods and, whether or not you should waste your money on these methods.

In-chair Whitening

In-chair whitening requires you to sit in the dental chair while a dental professional applies a whitening agent to the teeth, followed by a light to accelerate the product. In-chair whitening uses products like Enlighten whitening or Philips Zoom!

How effective is it?

This option is great if you need an immediate result, however, it requires further whitening and maintenance, and will cost more due to the surgery time and materials required.

How quickly will you see results?

The entire procedure is about one hour, and your teeth will be noticeably whiter after treatment. However, you will still need to whiten them at home to improve the efficiency.

What’s the price tag?



If you have the budget for it, this is a great way to get white teeth fast.

Home Whitening

Home whitening involves skipping the hour in the dental chair and simply having two custom made whitening trays made. The trays are molded to the shape of your teeth, and you wear them with the whitening agent in them while you go about your daily business.

How effective is it?

Home whitening is just as effective as in-chair whitening but without the hefty price tag.

How quickly will you see results?

Usually between 7-14 days. Depending on the shade of your teeth and desired result, you’ll wear the trays for anywhere from an hour to overnight for at least ten days.

What’s the price tag?



Overall, when comparing all whitening options, home whitening is generally favoured as you are in complete control, there is less reported sensitivity, and it’s significantly cheaper than in-chair whitening. The trays are also yours for life so you can regularly top up your teeth whitening.

Whitening Toothpaste

More and more toothpaste brands are claiming their product has whitening effects – namely, products branded as “whitening toothpaste” or “charcoal toothpaste”.  

Whitening toothpaste on the high street doesn’t contain any active whitening ingredients and can be missing key ingredients required to maintain healthy teeth, such as fluoride.

On the flip side, charcoal toothpaste is generally not as abrasive as whitening toothpaste; however, there is no evidence to prove its effectiveness on stain removal.

How effective is it?

In my professional opinion, I don’t think whitening or charcoal toothpaste is effective at all.

In fact, charcoal toothpaste may even contribute to negative aesthetic effects as the charcoal particles can become embedded in cracks in the teeth or restoration margins around crowns, veneers and fillings, attracting further yellowing and staining over time.

How quickly will you see results?

Probably never. While whitening toothpaste may remove surface stains, giving you the ability to see a slight improvement, it can be abrasive and damage enamel (the hard outer layer of the tooth), making it even more prone to staining in the long run. The short-term gain is not worth the long-term pain here.

What’s the price tag?

Anywhere from £3-£15 depending on the brand.


Don’t waste your time or money with whitening toothpaste. The risks of not using toothpaste with fluoride or using toothpaste that damages enamel will cause more harm in the long run.

Professional Cleaning

If you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, you may simply benefit from a professional clean.

I use EMS ‘Guided Biofilm Therapy’ using ‘Airflow’ technology. This is a powerful but gentle combination of water, air and fine powder used to remove all the biofilm as well as an effective stain removal treatment.

How effective is it?

If your teeth are stained due to lack of frequent visits to the dentist, a cleaning may be all you need to get your teeth whiter. However, if you’re a regular dentist-goer and are looking for significantly whiter teeth, a cleaning likely isn’t enough.

How quickly will you see results?

‘Guided Biofilm Therapy’ with ‘AirFlow’ cuts your time in the dental chair from 20 minutes down to just 7, so you can literacy have whiter teeth in less than 10 minutes.

What’s the price tag?

Anywhere between £65-£150 depending on location.


A great option for some but not for others. I always recommend a professional clean before embarking on whitening to achieve the best results. Consult your hygienist to see if this option is right for you.

Whitening Kits & Strips

Whitening is a popular procedure but should only be carried out by a dental professional who can either make you custom-made whitening trays or carry out a whitening treatment for you in the dental surgery.

I do not advise whitening strips or kits. They are not custom-made for your teeth so they come with a risk.

There have been cases where users have burnt their gums or experienced extreme sensitivity.

I would not advise buying any whitening products online or from anyone other than a dental professional to ensure your safety.

Most do not even contain enough active ingredients due to the law surrounding whitening in various countries.

Visit your dentist or dental hygienist for a professional opinion first – they will be able to assess your suitability for whitening and discuss which options are available to you.

How effective is it?

These products are not effective at all and can be dangerous.

How quickly will you see results?

You won’t!

What’s the price tag?



Don’t waste your money.

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