Everything You Need To Know About Teeth Whitening Kits Before Buying, According To Dentists (2024)

On the quest for a brighter smile? There are an abundance of whitening kits touted as an instant fix for discoloured teeth, but you’d be wise to heed the advice of dentists before shopping around. That’s because many of the teeth whitening kits marketed at consumers aren’t effective beyond short-lived results, and if you choose wrong, can actually be detrimental to the health of your teeth.

“Legally in the UK, over-the-counter products cannot contain over 0.1 per cent hydrogen peroxide,” says Dr Tom Crawford Clarke, leading cosmetic dentist and founder of Luceo Dental Clinic. “Therefore products won’t have a peroxide concentration high enough to whiten teeth as effectively as seeing your dentist, who can provide tooth whitening at the clinically proven concentrations for whitening teeth which start from 3.3 per cent.”

What’s more, products that use harsh ingredients to remove staining – including some whitening toothpastes and even “natural” remedies like activated charcoal and apple cider vinegar – can pose a risk to tooth health by being “abrasive to the tooth enamel,” as Dr. Tom explains.

Is tooth whitening safe?

How then, do you choose a teeth whitening solution that works without damaging your teeth? “Using a professionally designed tooth whitening system that has been proven to be both safe and effective is key,” says Dr Vanessa Creaven, dentist and co-founder of Spotlight Oral Care. However, there is still a chance both teeth and gums could become sensitive due to the chemicals used in tooth whitening products, so keep an eye on how they react. “It’s also important to note that it’s not recommended for those under 18 or who are pregnant or breastfeeding,” adds Creaven.

How do teeth whitening kits work?

Hydrogen peroxide is the active ingredient found in most tooth whitening kits. ”Dentists have been prescribing peroxide for over 30 years, which has been extensively researched and shows no damage to the tooth – some studies have shown it can actually improve the health of the teeth through the release of Urea which protects against tooth decay,” says Dr. Tom. If you can’t get into a dental clinic for professional peroxide whitening sessions – which are considered the gold standard treatment for discoloured teeth – then dentist-prescribed home kits with trays bespoke printed for your bite offer the most effective and even whitening. While these should be your first port of call for more permanent results, over-the-counter peroxide kits can brighten the smile temporarily.

Other kinds of kits use PAP (a peroxy acid) to cause chemical reactions that dissolve stains from the surface of the tooth. But these should be approached with caution, as in rudimentary formulas it can be corrosive to teeth. Dr Tom is of the opinion that they shouldn’t be used at all, as surface whiteness produced by PAP is “superficial” and potentially the result of acid damage. “PAP is actually used in laundry detergent,” he warns. It’s a bleaching agent that is relatively new to the world of teeth whitening and research supporting its safe long-term use is still needed. However, other dentists view the ingredient as an effective peroxide alternative. Dentist-led brand Spotlight Oral Care uses PAP in its products alongside additional remineralising ingredients to protect enamel health.

How we chose the best teeth whitening kits

To ensure our edit first and foremost offers options that preserve the health of your teeth, we’ve consulted dental experts for their advice on the best teeth whitening kits on the market. They’ve given us their honest appraisal of the product formulations and effectiveness so you can make an informed decision. Elsewhere, we’ve picked tried and trusted favourites Vogue editors call on for photo ops and as part of a consistent routine. While these options may not whiten your teeth as significantly as clinical whitening sessions, we’ve tried a few that we can attest are effective as a temporary fix. Scroll on for the best teeth whitening kits that come Vogue-approved.

Best teeth whitening products at a glance:

Everything You Need To Know About Teeth Whitening Kits Before Buying, According To Dentists (2024)
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