Considering Over The Counter Teeth Whitening? Read This Before You Buy

Do you want to feel more confident when you smile or make a good first impression at that all-important job interview? The truth is, a great-looking smile can give you the edge. 

In fact, more and more people are cottoning on to the fact that a bright white smile has multiple benefits. 

Numerous studies indicate that people with whiter teeth are perceived as more confident, healthy, trustworthy and successful. While other studies show a great-looking smile can improve a person’s chance of employment or even getting a date. 

It’s no wonder cosmetic teeth whitening has been steadily growing in popularity, with around 41% of Brits saying they would opt for this cosmetic treatment if they could.

So, if you’re considering teeth whitening treatment, you’re certainly not alone. In fact, you’ve only got to walk into your local supermarket or pharmacy to see the plethora of over-the-counter teeth-whitening products and kits available.

And, for many of us, it may seem an easier and less expensive way of getting whiter teeth without the hassle of visiting a dentist. 

However, at Foxbury Dental, we believe that professional whitening – that is, cosmetic whitening carried out under the control of your dentist – is the quickest, safest and most efficient way to a brighter, whiter smile. 

Here’s why…

Potential Problems With Over-the-Counter Whitening


Without dental supervision, improper application of OTC whiteners – particularly those purchased online – can damage the gums and soft tissues resulting in:

  • Mouth infections 
  • Blisters and burns to the gums
  • Gum recession 
  • Damage to nerves and tooth enamel

Tooth damage

A study published by the British Dental Journal found that an active ingredient found in three OTC bleaching products could, where acid is present, ‘significantly reduce the hardness of the teeth and increase the likeliness for future surface abrasions of the teeth.’


The overriding problem with over-the-counter whitening kits is they’re simply not as effective as professional teeth whitening. 

Here in the UK, over-the-counter teeth whitening kits are legally only allowed to contain up to 0.1% bleaching agent, which, in reality, is too low a concentration to noticeably affect tooth colour.

Conversely, dentists can supply take-home whitening products containing between 0.1% and 6% hydrogen peroxide.

Ultimately, professional teeth whitening – i.e. teeth whitening carried out under the supervision of a dental professional – can lighten teeth by several shades in most cases and last for several months or more, depending on the drinks and food you consume. Whereas over-the-counter whitening is not as effective and, at best, only lasts for a short time.

Your Teeth Whitening Options Explained

If you are keen on the idea of a whiter, brighter smile, it’s worth taking a closer look at the various product types available so you can make an informed choice.

Whitening toothpaste – These contain abrasives and agents that help dissolve stains and polish teeth. They may work to a certain extent, but everyone’s teeth and enamel differ. When brushing twice daily, it can take two to six weeks before any changes are noticeable in the appearance and colour of the teeth. The results depend on the type of toothpaste and the strength of the whitening ingredient, but at best, they typically lighten teeth by up to one shade. 

Whitening strips – these peroxide-based strips are very popular and are applied to the teeth once or twice daily for 10-14 days. Whitening strips can be cumbersome to use and typically only whiten the front six teeth, leaving your back teeth looking dingy unless they’re capped. Unfortunately, if teeth are rotated or crooked, you may not get the desired results.

LED-whitening mouthpiece –  A growing trend is LED whitening kits for at-home whitening. They feature an LED mouthpiece designed to accelerate the power of peroxide-based whitening. Like most OTC whitening kits, results can vary significantly according to the colour and condition of your teeth. 

Tray-based whitening systems – with this option, the whitening gel is contained within a tray that’s a bit like a mouthguard and worn for a set period each day. Typically, over-the-counter versions come with standard trays that are a one-size-fits-all model. 

Ultimately, if the trays are not snug, the gel may not make complete contact with the tooth’s surface area. In addition, there is a chance that the whitening gel may escape from the ill-fitting tray and leak onto your gums or mouth. 

Conversely, dentists also supply at-home whitening trays, but there is a difference. Each tray is custom-made and, therefore, bespoke to your mouth. This means you stand a greater chance of achieving an even whitening effect. Moreover, and as already mentioned, any whitening will occur faster because the bleaching agent is typically more potent. 

The Benefits of Professional Take-HomeTeeth Whitening From Foxbury Dental 

Patients love the convenience of our custom take-home teeth whitening trays that put them in control of their whitening.  

For this cosmetic dental treatment, patients undergo a thorough oral examination to ensure they have a healthy mouth and no signs of active gum disease, tooth decay, or plaque which can affect the outcome. Any decay or recession can complicate teeth whitening by increasing irritation or sensitivity. 

Unfortunately, not everyone is suitable for teeth whitening. Our dentist may recommend an alternative treatment, such as veneers, for those with deeper (intrinsic) staining.

Top tip: For the best results, you should always visit your dentist for a whitening evaluation to determine the best system. 

Here’s how the process works

Step 1 – First, our dentist takes digital impressions of your teeth to fabricate your custom trays. Each tray is then trimmed to fit perfectly over the teeth and gum line. They keep the gel in the trays, away from the gums, and on the teeth for the prescribed length of time. 

Step 2- Once the trays are ready for collection, you’ll be shown how to fill them and given instructions on when and how long to wear them.

Step 3 – Wear as requested and wait for the results!

At-Home Whitening With Philips Zoom – The Bottom Line

Philps Zoom is more than just teeth whitening. Specially formulated gels reduce sensitivity, protect tooth enamel and improve tooth lustre. 

Patients can choose from Zoom Daywhite or Nightwhite, so you get to whiten teeth your way. Both contain higher concentrations of bleaching agents than any over-the-counter whitening product in the UK. 

  • Day White contains hydrogen peroxide and is worn for one hour a day for two weeks for dramatic results of up to 6 shades lighter
  • Nightwhite contains carbamide peroxide and is worn over the teeth while you sleep for between 4 to 6 hours, with noticeable results within 1-2 weeks.

Once custom trays are designed and made, patients get to keep them for future touch-ups.

With professional at-home whitening treatment, you can easily maintain your smile’s whiteness by calling our clinic to request additional top-up tubes. When you purchase a whitening kit from us, we’ll even throw in £100 of whitening tubes for free

Want A Whiter Smile For Christmas? With the festive period fast approaching, what better time to whiten your teeth in preparation for happy times spent with family and friends? Why not book now and whiten your smile with Philips Zoom? Call Foxbury Dental on 01858 455 100 or look us up online to book your visit.

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