Did you know that in October 2012, EU regulation 2011/84/EU came into force?
This regulation limits the amount of hydrogen peroxide that off-the-shelf teeth whitening products may contain.
Why is this important?
Put simply, hydrogen peroxide is the key ingredient in teeth whitening products, without it or with a very low concentration, the product will only offer very limited results if any at all.
Over in the United States, most off-the-shelf teeth whitening products contain hydrogen peroxide at around 15% concentration and professional products for dentists contain around 35% peroxide.
The EU regulation states that consumer teeth whitening products sold within the EU must not contain more than 0.1% hydrogen peroxide while registered dental practitioners are allowed to purchase and apply peroxide products up to 6%.
In other words, the teeth products you see advertised on Ebay, Amazon and other online retailers contain such a small amount of hydrogen peroxide, they will never work and are a waste of money. Think of them as a stain remover, rather than teeth whitening or bleaching.
You can go look at the images some Amazon customers have posted to that site, their teeth look cleaner but the results certainly aren’t comparable to a professional whitening service.
This is why many of the products sold online have terrible reviews, while most of the 5-star reviews appear to be fake. Have a closer look at the ingredients within many of these products; they never contain more than 0.1% hydrogen peroxide.
Many now contain no hydrogen peroxide at all and are made purely from “natural” ingredients.
Some products, such as this one, are now sold with an LED light.
Try it if you like, it won’t work either.
None of these products will work beyond removing mild stains, the results will probably not be good enough for anyone to notice any difference.
What About Professional Teeth Whitening Services?
Only registered dental practitioners can apply 6% hydrogen peroxide but this is still very weak by comparison to products sold in countries outside the EU. You’ll need multiple visits to the dentist and you’ll also need to sit there for ages with the gel and custom gumshield in your mouth.
Oh, and “registered dental practitioner” doesn’t mean hygienist or beauty therapist. Hygienists and beauty therapists can only apply 6% hydrogen peroxide if under the “direct supervision” of a dental practitioner, as explained here.
This is why professional teeth whitening costs so much in the UK; the product is weak. Also, it’s usually applied by a qualified and registered dental practitioner who must first examine your teeth, create a custom gumshield and for best results, follow up treatments at home.
Over in the States, the dental practitioner can apply the stronger hydrogen peroxide (35% typically), you sit there for a short period of time and you’ll see great results.
6% hydrogen peroxide solution works well, this study shows that while the 35% product resulted in brighter teeth, the difference in tooth brightness and colour between 6% and 35% after 3 months and 6 months was minor. It just takes a little longer, hence why many dentists recommend an initial treatment with them followed by at-home self-treatment.
Teeth Whitening Costs
Now you know that off-the-shelf products sold within the EU and UK are very weak and unlikely to whiten your teeth beyond a shade pr two, how much does teeth whitening cost if done professionally by a dentist?
We asked 15 dentists from various locations around the UK how much their teeth whitening costs.
We made sure that each of the dentists offered us a comparable service; i.e. 6% hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening solution, with the first treatment professionally applied in a dentist’s surgery, additional treatments were self-administered at home with follow-up in-dentistry treatments if suggested by the dentist.
Here is our guide to teeth whitening costs in the UK which we updated in 2022:
|Teeth whitening course (Dentist & then at home)||£575|
|Teeth whitening course at home only (after consultation)||£275|
|Treatment typically takes:||One session followed by several weeks of at home self-treatment|
|First results appear:||7 - 14 days.|
|Results last:||1 - 3 years with smokers, tea and wine drinkers requiring more frequent follow-up treatments.|
|Comments:||Prices vary based upon location and on the number of required dentist visits. Some professionals suggested only two visits while others suggest up to four visits.|
Can I Get My Teeth Whitened on the NHS For Free?
The National Health Service does not provide free or discounted teeth whitening services for cosmetic reasons. The only way to have the teeth whitened on the NHS is if there is a medical reason to do so.
Are There Any Risks Involved With Teeth Whitening?
The hydrogen peroxide gel may burn or blister gums so a custom gumshield should be manufactured for you. Still, the risk of gum damage is present although the pain is usually short term.
Long term damage to tooth enamel is rare and usually only occurs if the patient has had too many treatments, hence why stronger hydrogen peroxide gel is only available via a registered dentist who must examine the patient first.
Does Teeth Laser Treatment Work?
Laser treatment is used to complement traditional hydrogen peroxide, the laser enhances and speeds up the bleaching effects of the gel. The treatment doesn’t work for all patients and some users report sore gums and teeth, this pain usually subsides after a few days.
The Bottom Line on Teeth Whitening Costs
Off-the-shelf teeth whitening kits won’t work beyond mild stain removal and they aren’t comparable to professional teeth whitening and bleaching. Any brightening from such products is only likely to affect the surface of the teeth and won’t last long at all.
Amazon is riddled with fake 5-star reviews because this is a multi-million-pound industry and getting fake reviews is easy and improves sales dramatically.
Kits or gels containing more than 0.1% hydrogen peroxide cannot be legally sold or imported into the UK unless they are for professional use.
Your registered dentist can apply a stronger (but still fairly weak) 6% hydrogen peroxide solution but you’ll need an examination, as well as custom gumshields manufactured to protect your gums from burns and you’ll need follow-up treatments at home and further consultations with your dentist who will want to monitor your progress before issuing you with more 6% hydrogen peroxide.
Teeth whitening costs vary; how many treatments you’ll need depends on the existing colour of your teeth and how white you’d like them to be.
Your location is also a price factor, prices we received from dentists in and around London were considerably higher than those in other parts of the UK.