Is Home Teeth Whitening Safe?

Customised whitening kits vs shop bought kits.

Teeth whitening is the most popular cosmetic dental procedure and there are many reasons for this. It is a relatively simple treatment that is also both affordable and produces very fast and noticeable results. It should also be ‘pain free’, but more of that later.

There is little doubt that it is one of the most effective ways of boosting your smile, providing that your teeth are in general good health in the first place.


The first choice of many people is to try a whitening toothpaste. Unless you simply want to ‘top up’ teeth which have been recently whitened though, these are generally ineffective. Due to safety regulations, the amount of whitening ingredient allowed in such products is very small indeed, and many people will notice little or no difference.

The next choice available is the ‘at home’ whitening kit, and it is these which sometimes cause confusion. Why, for example, should you have this supplied by a professional cosmetic dentist when you can buy one off the shelf? Let’s take a closer look….

Shop kits

Whilst shop bought whitening kits are certainly more effective than whitening toothpastes, they are not all that many people expect them to be. Essentially, there are two potential problems with these kits.

  1. Again, the amount of whitening ingredient allowed is restricted. Whilst it is higher than in toothpastes, it is significantly lower than that allowed in kits supplied by a dentist. Number 2 below, explains why this is the case!
  2. Because shop bought kits are mass produced, the trays in which the whitening solution is placed are, by necessity, mainly a ‘one size fits all’ solution. We all know that everybody’s facial shapes are different and this can lead to ill fitting trays. Not only can this make them uncomfortable, but, more importantly, can allow the whitening agent, which is a form of bleach, to leak out onto the soft tissues of the mouth,  leading to painful and unsightly burning of the lips and gums unless you are very careful.

Professional kits

At the Confidental Clinic in Purley, we provide our patients with customised teeth whitening kits that are worn at home. The trays are made from impressions of the patient’s own teeth and, once produced, are checked thoroughly to ensure that they fit correctly before the patient can start to use them at home. The trays are designed to be worn for approximately four hours a day for a fortnight. The length can depend on the patient’s requirements though and we will discuss this with you during the consultation. With this system, future whitening top ups are also more affordable as you will not need to have more trays made. We believe there are distinct advantages from using a professionally provided whitening kit rather than off-the-shelf versions.

Illegal whitening

Just a very quick note that you should avoid having your teeth whitened by anyone but a dentist. This practice is now illegal and too many customers of such establishments have had disastrous and painful experiences.

If you are unhappy with the colour of your teeth, we offer a free consultation which can be booked by calling the Confidental Clinic in Purley on 020 8660 8923.