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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at DCU chapter.

The beauty industry has really pushed teeth whitening in recent years with many companies emerging with a variety of at-home products: toothpastes , mouthwashes, strips, gels, UV lights and pens. I mean who doesn’t want whiter teeth? 

But of course there are many who are sceptical of these products: Are these safe to use? Do they actually work? If so, what products are best?

Luckily we are fortunate enough to have dentist Keith Redmond give us a bunch of helpful insights into the teeth whitening process and products.

Are the at-home products safe? 


In the EU, over the counter toothpaste and mouthwash products can’t have anything more than 0.1% hydrogen peroxide in them by law. This isn’t a sufficient amount of peroxide to permanently get rid of stains, so to counteract this they add an abrasive substance such as silica. Silica is used then to remove stains but as far as effective whitening, it will not work as the chemicals are not going to bleach and whiten your teeth.

Spotlight Ireland for example uses less than 0.1% hydrogen peroxide which means it is not a long term teeth whitening solution.

However, not all teeth whitening strips are obeying this 0.1% rule, such as Crest which use 6.5% hydrogen peroxide, and HiSmile whose gel can go up to 35% hydrogen peroxide. 

What is used by dentists?

The treatment for teeth whitening used by dentists contains 6% hydrogen peroxide (60 times more powerful than over the counter products. A dentist will make up a gum shield for your top and bottom teeth along with a gel. You place a drop of this gel into the gum shield and pop it in. They offer an 8 hour system (which is used overnight) or an hour system. This is only needed for 2 weeks at a time to work, unlike over the counter products.

This is a more permanent solution for teeth whitening.

What happens during the teeth whitening process?

During the teeth whitening process, the natural pores on teeth are opened and the hydrogen peroxide leeches all the dirt from the pores to remove the stains (like a teeth facial). It then soaks into the pores to bleach the teeth. 

The problem is that a lot of these products work on a superficial layer as they are obeying the 0.1%. However, a dentist prescribed gel, for example, will go right into the tooth and start to bleach the interior of the tooth.

Will I get sensitive teeth if I whiten my teeth?

All teeth whitening products will cause a certain degree of sensitivity, but this is only temporary. While opening the pores on the teeth, you’re allowing hot and cold things to pass straight in and out. This will cause the nerve to become slightly more sensitive. For example, the 8 hour dentist-grade whitening treatment will cause slightly more sensitivity than the one hour treatment. But this is not dangerous, and is only a temporary side-effect.

The conclusion? 

Teeth whitening is safe, so don’t be afraid to try it! My advice as always: research the product before you buy anything but of course the most efficient way to whiten your teeth is with a dentist grade product.

DCU Communication Studies 1/2 of the Her Campus P.R.O Team
BA in Economics, Politics and Law DCU. Currently studying European Union Law in The University of Amsterdam. Campus Correspondent for Her Campus DCU 2020/2021!