Spotlight on whitening your teeth

Whitening products can be a maze. Here's all you need to know for more dazzling teeth.

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, who has the whitest teeth of all?

Most people want to have white teeth because white it feels healthy and helps them look young. But it's very easy to get bamboozled by all the different methods and products on offer that promise whiter teeth. This article will guide you through the maze so your on your way to a dazzling smile.

Mullingar Dental Centre - Spotlight on Whitening

To get the best results, you really need to use whitening materials that are only available through your dentist. Hydrogen Peroxide is the safest and most effective chemical to whiten teeth in a quality whitening gel. Products with up to 0.1% Hydrogen Peroxide can be sold over the counter. Products containing from 0.1% to 6% Hydrogen Peroxide can only be administered by a dental practitioner, under EU Directive 76/768/EEC. Hydrogen Peroxide is a safe way to whiten teeth. But it can cause problems if used on teeth with dental decay and cavities. It can also cause gum irritation if there is gingivitis or gum disease present. This is why your dentist needs to do a dental check before you start whitening.

How will your Dentist Whiten your Teeth?

The first step will be to remove any existing stains such as tea and coffee stains. Your dentist can start your whitening process in the dental chair, using the 6% Hydrogen Peroxide Gel, with light activation. This process will take an hour, and you can see results up to 2 shades whiter. To get a better and longer lasting result, you will need to follow up on with take-home whitening trays.

These trays are made by a dental laboratory to fit your teeth precisely. Your dentist will take impressions of your mouth, or a digital 3D scan of your mouth, to make your unique whitening trays. Your dentist will guide you on the use of the trays and gel. The gel is placed in the trays, and then the trays are worn for one hour or overnight. The gels are 10 or 16% Carbamide Peroxide, which breaks down to form Hydrogen Peroxide. Some people have very sensitive teeth, and can only use the 10% gel. We recommend starting with the 10% and moving to the 16% gel after the first three to five days.

Biomin Toothpaste

The trays need to be used daily for 14 days. We recommend using Biomin toothpaste in the trays for 30 minutes prior to using the whitening gel. This is a proven desensitiser as it replaces lost minerals and helps reduce the sensitivity by balancing the calcium phosphate levels in your mouth. The Oral Health foundation recently accredited Biomin as the only premium quality toothpaste to be effective against sensitivity and tooth decay. It's able to deliver a low level of fluoride for up to 12 hours after brushing.

The Best Results with Teeth Whitening

We use Boutique Whitening and our patients are getting great results. When you finish your fourteen day treatment, you can store your trays for use again in 6 months time for a top up. Most people use a syringe of whitening for top up.

More information about the Boutique Whitening system is available on their website here.

Mullingar Dental Centre - Spotlight on Whitening

Spotlight on Whitening Stripes and other Over-the-Counter Products

Spotlight whitening strips were developed by dentists, and contain Hydrogen Peroxide. The strips are effective at removing stains and brightening teeth that are not too yellow. The strips are also effective as a top up following whitening using the take home trays.

The strips are easy to use and should definitely be on your shopping list. The Hydrogen Peroxide breaks down over time so do watch the expiry dates.

The spotlight whitening pen works in a similar way to the strips and a mouth-rinse which has a number of pluses. It is alcohol free, contains fluoride and Hydrogen Peroxide, which means it will whiten and protect against decay and gum disease.

More information on Spotlight Whitening is available on their website here.

Charcoal and Whitening Toothpastes

The success of all dental work is 70% dependent on successful home-care. So, as dentists, anything that encourages our patients to brush their teeth, has to be welcome. That said, the toothpaste needs to contain fluoride and you need to be careful about overusing any whitening toothpaste. Many are quite abrasive and can cause tooth and gum wear.

What about the trend towards charcoal toothpastes? It is suggested that the charcoal binds to all tooth surface deposits. This binding is possibly aided by the bentonite clay in clay-containing formulations holding plaque, bacteria and stained material in the pores of the charcoal, which is then brushed away and supposedly leaves tooth surfaces free of any deposits. However there is no scientific evidence to back up these claims. As with fluoride, the charcoal may absorb the peroxide free radical and negate its ability to remove intrinsic staining in enamel and dentine.

Mullingar Dental Centre - Spotlight on Whitening

As with many claims for charcoal toothpastes, there's a scarcity of scientific evidence to support it's efficacy. Even if it contains fluoride, that fluoride is bound to the charcoal and is not available to remineralise the tooth's enamel. More worrying are charcoal toothpastes with no fluoride. People using these are increasing their risk of tooth decay. Most charcoal toothpastes are quite abrasive and, as such, the resultant tooth wear may cause more harm than good.


In summary, for whiter teeth here are our top tips:

  • You need to use whitening products supplied by your dentist. You can maintain your white smile using these products, or the Spotlight pen or whitening strips. 
  • The Spotlight mouthwash is a great everyday mouthwash for your overall oral health.  
  • Whitening toothpastes should be used with care, limiting use to once a day. 
  • Charcoal is best used on your barbecue!

You can contact us at 044 9340370 for more information or schedule an appointment to get started with a dental check.