Is Teeth Whitening Safe?

If you want to brighten your smile safely and effectively, make sure you consult a trained dental specialist. While there are some side effects from teeth whitening, your dentist will be able to provide the safest treatment options, along with aftercare and support.
If you want to brighten your smile safely and effectively, make sure you consult a trained dental specialist. While there are some side effects from teeth whitening, your dentist will be able to provide the safest treatment options, along with aftercare and support.
Written by
Edgbaston Smile
Published on
August 26, 2022


Teeth can become stained for multiple reasons. If you want to brighten your smile safely and effectively, make sure you consult a trained dental specialist. While there are some side effects from teeth whitening, your dentist will be able to provide the safest treatment options, along with aftercare and support.

How can teeth become discoloured?

Teeth can become discoloured for a number of different reasons:

Extrinsic discolouration:

  • Staining from food, drinks or smoking is called extrinstic discolouration. Examples of potential causes include tea and coffee, red wine, tobacco and food with dyes/colourings. These stains only affect the outside of your teeth.
  • We recommened professional teeth whitening and cleaning to deal with extrinsic discolouration. This will provide the safest and most notable results. We also recommend that the teeth are cleaned professionally with an air polish to ensure the best results.

Intrinsic discolouration:

  • Intrinsic discolouration refers to changes in colour from within the teeth. This can be caused by medication, illness, infection, ageing and tooth trauma.
  • Intinsic discolouration will need to be internally bleached by a professional in order to restore your natural whiteness or even whiter.

Teeth whitening options

There are many options available to whiten your teeth, including products available online or in a pharmacy/health store. It can be hard to tell what to use and which methods are safe and effective.

Other factors can influence which option is right for you, including:

It will be useful to discuss whitening options with your dentist before deciding to try one. A trained dentist will better understand your smile and can recommend an appropriate treatment plan to suit your needs. Your dentist may discuss multiple options to whiten your teeth such as an air polish, teeth whitening, internal bleaching, or even veneers.

Professional teeth whitening

There are multiple options dentists provide to whiten your teeth, either at home or in clinic. Most methods will use a teeth bleaching gel with carbamide peroxide. This affects the tooth's colour by a chemical reaction. This is considered the safest way to whiten your teeth.

Laser teeth whitening

Laser teeth whitening is the fastest way to acheive a whiter smile, but it can also cause major sensitivity issues - our dentists do not offer this treatment for this reason. It is also much more expensive than other teeth whitening and options, and still relies on prolonged usage of teeth whitening gel to maintain results. This is because laser teeth whitening dries out the teeth, giving the appearance of a whiter, brighter smile, but the whitening gel bleaches the teeth through a chemical reaction.

Professional teeth bleaching

At Edgbaston Smile we offer Boutique Whitening (professional bleaching). Your dentist will provide custom made trays to ensure the teeth whitening gel can be applied safely and does not leak out into the mouth, potentially causing gum sensitivity or internal damage if swallowed.

Professional at home bleaching is the most effective and safest teeth whitening option, often costing half as much as laser treatment. Dentists can prescribe much higher concentrations of carbamide peroxide (around 6%) compared to other available products (usually less than 1% or none at all!). Our teeth whitening can be done over night and usually takes between 1 and 3 weeks to see the optimal results.

Online/in store teeth whitening products

Many whitening products are freely available to purchase in the United Kingdom, but unlike treatments prescribed by a dentist, these have a much lower concentration of carbamide peroxide, or none at all. This means that these products are usually much less effective than professional whitening, and can be harmful if used improperly or without supervision of a trained professional.

Whitening toothpaste

Instead of using chemical carbamide peroxide, toothpastes typically use abrasives to remove surface discolouration from your teeth. It can take a longer time to see results, and these toothpastes can be damaging to your teeth and gums. When patients undergo teeth whitening at our clinic, we never recommend these products, and instead include toothpaste which can combat sensitivity issues.

Whitening strips

These strips tend to include a very low concentration of hydrogen peroxide and are not very effective at whitening the teeth or can take a long time to see results.

Charcoal or home-based methods

You may have heard of homemade methods to whiten your teeth, saving you the cost of proper treatment. These are not scientifically proven and can damage your teeth. You should always consult a dentist before attempting these methods.

Potential side effects

Professional teeth whitening is considered safe, but you may experience some side effects. Our dentists always provide the best measures to reduce side effects and ensure a safe and effective whitening experience:

  • Teeth sensitivity - Your teeth may become more sensitive following whitening treatment but this will often diminish as you continue your treatment. Our dentists provide special toothpaste to reduce sensitivity during whitening. This should be used for two weeks before your treatment and during and after for as long as necessary.
  • Irritated gums - When your gums become irritated this is called gingival irritation. This normally happens due to contact of the teeth whitening gel with your gums. A properly fitted teeth whitening tray, provided by our dentists, will reduce this contact and allow you to whiten your teeth safely. This sensitivity should also go away after you finish your treatment.

How can I maintain my results?

To ensure your teeth whitening results last you should maintain good eating, drinking and oral hygeine practices. Even after your treatment, your teeth can still be stained by tea or coffee and certain foods, as well as smoking. Brushing your teeth shortly after eating or drinking these types of food/drink can reduce the risk of staining and also promote better dental health!


At Edgbaston Smile we only recommend dentist-approved methods for teeth whitening. We also recommend booking a consultation if you wish to improve your smile, as other treatments may be more suitable for you. Make sure you always follow your dentist's guidance and contact them if you experience any side effects.

If you want to book a teeth whitening appointment with one of our specialists click here, or contact the clinic directly by emailing or by calling 0121 456 7930

Edgbaston Smile
Edgbaston Smile Clinic in Birmingham offers a wide range of cosmetic and restorative dental treatments to refresh, restore and rejuvenate your smile. Our aim is to promote oral health and achieve great aesthetic and functional results.

Our ethos is to place our clients’ needs at the centre of everything that we do and provide the highest quality of service.
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