Tooth Whitening

Tooth whitening is a procedure designed to lighten the colour of your teeth. Almost anyone is suitable for whitening, which will not harm your teeth and gums if done properly. Certain types of staining (for example tetracycline stain) take a lot longer to whiten. Crowns, veneers and fillings cannot be whitened, and may require replacement after whitening due to the difference in colour to the surrounding teeth.

Costs start at £195 for upper and lower teeth. Please speak to your clinical team about this offer.

Power Whitening

This is carried out by the dentist in the surgery. A special gel is applied to the teeth 3 times for 15 minutes each time, and activated with a UV light. This process takes about 1 ½ hours. You will go home, on average, 7 shades lighter. The advantages are that it is quicker to achieve a result, and includes a home whitening kit to top it up at intervals. The disadvantages are that it takes up more surgery time, and is therefore more expensive.

Home Whitening

This involves wearing a made to measure whitening tray filled with mild whitening gel for 2-4 hours a day/night for 2-4 weeks. The advantages are that it is convenient to use, and the cost is lower. It can also be easily topped up by further applications of the gel in the future. The disadvantages are that it is more time consuming, and you need to apply the gel consistently for 2-4 weeks.

Pre-filled Whitening Trays

These preformed trays contain a slightly more powerful gel, and only need to be worn for 30–60 minutes. The advantages are that the cost is less as no custom made whitening trays are required, and it is much quicker. The advantage is that they come in kits of 10, therefore top-ups are more expensive.


Your understanding and co-operation is necessary so that we can deliver the best results for you. On average, our Zoom system whitens natural teeth twice as light as your original starting shade, which most people are very pleased with. Over time, this whitening gradually reverses because of the different food and drinks that contain colour, from vegetables to dark drinks!

Thus tooth-whitening should be regarded as a temporary treatment and, depending on several factors, you will need a repeat treatment in about two years or possibly sooner/later than this. Your dentist will discuss how you can maximize your whitening benefits, for a longer-lasting, natural smile.

Some people want a really white or “Hollywood” smile, like the film stars, and this may require multiple tooth-whitening treatments and even then may not be fully achieved without more invasive treatments like crowns or veneers.

The UK style, though, is to have teeth lighter coloured but still as natural looking as possible; so often a single tooth-whitening treatment is sufficient, with repeat treatments perhaps every two years to maintain this original gain.

First Appointment:

If this visit is only for your tooth-whitening needs, we will still ask for your medical history, discuss with you exactly what it is you wish to improve about your smile, examine your for suitability for the tooth-whitening procedure and explain our findings. Whilst the majority of people are suitable for tooth-whitening procedures, not everyone is – if this is the case, other possible options or treatments will be explained as needed. However, this is not a comprehensive examination for other dental problems and you should see your own regular dentist for your routine dental care.

If you are suitable and happy to proceed, then our same-day tooth-whitening treatment can follow your examination and, after about 90 minutes, all treatment is complete – you just need to avoid any staining foods or liquids for 24 hours and you will be given a list of suitable, non-staining choices, such as water/milk, pasta, chicken, fish, cottage cheese, apple, banana etc.

Effects of Tooth-Whitening, Safety etc:

We follow recognised tooth-whitening procedures that have been proven to be safe, do not harm the teeth or enamel or affect the teeth any more than having a fizzy drink. The gums, though, do need protection and this is done with a painted-on barrier. Sometimes some temporary sensitivity is felt during and after treatment, but rarely lasts beyond 24 hours – this is the whitening gel inside the tooth still finishing off it’s whitening reaction and lightening the teeth.

Tooth-whitening ONLY lightens natural living tooth, not dead, dark teeth or artificial materials such as fillings and crowns, which have a chemical colour embedded in them. Thus, be aware that any existing restorations may look darker than the natural teeth that have been lightened with tooth-whitening.

Often, as part of an overall treatment plan, if other work needs replacing or repairing, then in the majority of cases one would do the tooth-whitening first and then any additional work to match closer to the lighter colour gained. Further work can be done after one week, when the colour has stabilised.

Legal Standing with Tooth-Whitening:

Bizarrely, although all our materials are proven safe and have been used in the USA and worldwide without any problems (FDA approved etc.), in the UK the law treats professional tooth-whitening differently. It seems because the EU Cosmetic Directives included clinical tooth-whitening, when it was thought as being covered under EU Medical Directives, it is illegal to supply any Hydrogen Peroxide stronger than 0.1% to the public. This is a good idea for bought cosmetics placed near the eyes, but for same-day tooth-whitening our gels are over 100 times the concentration of this tiny amount!!! Thus most patients who would clinically benefit from professional tooth-whitening will suffer – keep darker teeth and feel miserable, or whiten teeth by more invasive (and expensive) treatments like crowns and veneers that could have been avoided by safe, proven alternatives?

Shops are also affected by this, which is why most of the “whitening” products sold in the UK do not have anywhere near enough Hydrogen Peroxide to whiten teeth, like our professionally applied systems do!

Fortunately, common sense has prevailed and the Department of Health and the General Dental Council have stated that as long as treatment is being done “therapeutically” to help patients and is done in their best interests, then dentist-applied tooth-whitening is acceptable to them.

It is hoped that the EU legal system will revisit this new law soon and bring tooth-whitening laws in line with the majority of the rest of the world – but until then we feel you should be aware of this “strange” legal situation.

The Actual Tooth-Whitening Treatment:

You will be lying in the dental chair for approximately 1.5 hours, to allow gum protection to be applied and three or four 15 minute applications of the whitening gel, activated by a light.

Please note that if you have gum recession or worn teeth not covered by enamel, the exposed dentine can be very sensitive, so we routinely block/seal this over with the gum protector. However, these areas will not go lighter as the gel cannot contact but may be hidden by the lips anyway or can be restored with matching fillings by your dentist.

Before and after pictures will be taken, along with the shade difference noted. During the procedure you may experience some mild sensitivity from the teeth as the whitening gel lightens further within the tooth. Should you experience anything painful, the whitening can be paused and that tooth isolated as needed – though for most people this is not necessary.

After Tooth-Whitening – Maintenance:

Your teeth will feel some sensitivity, on and off, in the first 24 hours. You will also lose 1 of the average 9 shades gained, as your teeth re-hydrate and form a new saliva layer called the acquired pellicle. One must avoid any staining foods or liquids such as tea, coffee, tobacco, cola, curries, vegetables etc., having only white or clear products. Avoid anything that would stain a white shirt!

After 24 hours we recommend reducing the frequency of staining foods and drinks AND rinsing out your mouth with water after tea, coffee, smoking etc. Use a whitening toothpaste that isn’t abrasive, ideally 3 times a day and floss your teeth once a day too, for best, longest-lasting whitening results.

Registered office address

Southern Dental Ltd.
Company No: 5947797
Registered Office:
Staverton Court
GL51 0UX