Patients are often confused about who can do teeth whitening, but the legal guidance is clear: only registered dentists may carry out teeth whitening in the UK.
1. Whitening is safe
carried out by a trained dental professional, whitening is perfectly
Based on their knowledge of your oral health your dentist will
discuss with you the options available, decide if tooth whitening is
appropriate for you and develop an overall treatment plan that gives the
You'll get to see on a chart what shade your
teeth are before the treatment and what shade you're likely to achieve.
At the end of the treatment the dentist will show you the actual result
so you can understand how effective it was.
You will also see when you
look in the mirror!
2. Only trained dental professionals can whiten teeth
It is illegal for anyone other than dentists or their teams
to carry out teeth whitening.
Anyone else offering teeth whitening (e.g.
beauticians, hairdressers, and salon staff) won’t have the right
training and knowledge, could permanently damage your teeth and gums and
can’t help you when something goes wrong.
3. The preferred option
won't remove the surface of your teeth or change their shape.
often a better option than alternatives, such as veneers, because it
doesn’t involve permanently altering the tooth’s structure and is easy
to look after.
4. Selecting the right option for you
dentist is trained to know what whitening products will be safe for your
teeth and gums.
Products provided by non-dentists often do not have
enough safety data and evidence to support their use; this can result in
burned gums and/or blistered lips or even more serious consequences.
Using products that are not appropriate for you will produce poor
5. How it works
concentration of bleach is applied to your teeth using specially-made
trays that fit in your mouth.
Your dentist will be able to discuss with
you the level of whitening you want and give you an idea of how many
treatments you may need to achieve the shade you’re after.
hair and skin, teeth vary in colour. Some are yellower or darker than
others, even when they are quite healthy.
Teeth tend to get darker as
people get older.
Teeth sometimes become darker if their roots have been
damaged or diseased and the 'nerve' has died.
6. What to expect
may experience some sensitivity for a short time during your treatment
but this is normal and will soon fade away after completion.
If you have any concerns after your treatment, do speak to your dentist.
7. Over the counter kits might not be safe
products you can buy online or from high street shops often fail to
declare the precise chemicals used so it’s very difficult to assess
Because of this they should not be considered safe. These
products won’t produce the same good results you can expect by visiting
Tooth colour can be lightened with Hydrogen Peroxide
(bleach) and how strong the dose needs to be will be decided by your
What is the BDA doing?
Through the Council of European Dentists (CED), we lobbied the European Commission to remove all legal restrictions on dentists so they can carry out whitening procedures in line with accepted clinical practice.
The EU Cosmetics Directive was finally amended in 2011, and the UK Cosmetic Product (Safety) (Amendment) 2012 came into force on 31 October 2012.
Where can I find out more?
Information and advice for patients on teeth whitening is also available from the British Dental Health Foundation.
The GDC provides information for patients including a patient leaflet.
About the BDA
The British Dental Association (BDA) is the professional association and trade union for dentists in the UK. It represents dentists working in general practice, in community and hospital settings, in academia and research, and in the armed forces, and includes dental students. The BDA promotes members' interests, advances the science, arts and ethics of dentistry, and contributes towards improving the nation's oral health.
You can follow news from the BDA on Twitter.
Membership packages reflect the varied needs of dentists.
Page last updated 31 August 2016