Tooth Whitening Gels…. How do they work?

Burneston Dental Surgery, Guildford - protect

Unfortunately, over time, teeth can naturally become stained and discoloured. However, there are a number of factors that can speed up the process, including smoking tobacco and drinking beverages such as tea, coffee and red wine.

Stains on teeth are classified as either extrinsic or intrinsic. Extrinsic stains appear on the surface of your teeth. Intrinsic stains develop within the tooth substance. Whitening toothpastes and mouth rinses may be able to remove some of the extrinsic stains on your teeth. But only teeth whitening agents can remove the stubborn extrinsic stains and the unsightly intrinsic stains that cause your teeth to look darker and discoloured.

Whitening gels contain an active whitening ingredient (either carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide) that penetrates your tooth substance to reach the discoloured molecules. Oxygen molecules released from the whitening agents react with the discoloured molecules in your teeth, breaking the bonds that hold them together, transforming them into a colourless material. The oxygen molecules spread, whitening the entire tooth. As a result, you are left with a brighter, whiter smile.

The effects of whitening agents on the colour of teeth were discovered by accident. Tooth whitening gels in the form of hydrogen peroxide were originally used as treatments to reduce the swelling of the gum after orthodontic treatment. Orthodontists then noticed that the teeth also became lighter as a result of the gel.

Tooth-whitening products and kits bought over the counter or on the internet can legally only contain up to 0.1 per cent hydrogen peroxide. This concentration is normally too low to have any noticeable long-lasting effect on the colour of the teeth. Products that contain over 0.1 per cent hydrogen peroxide can legally only be provided by dentists.

At Burneston Dental we offer both in-chair whitening and home whitening procedures.


The benefits of teeth whitening at Burneston Dental:

  • It is safe and effective
  • It’s more predictable and effective than over-the-counter whitening systems
  • With a fresher look to your teeth, you look and feel younger
  • Peace of mind knowing that your teeth whitening procedure is being carried out safely by a dental professional
  • Can be used to compliment other treatments such as veneers or cosmetic bonding


For more information about teeth whitening, please contact us and we will be more than happy to advise the most suitable treatment.