Myth Busting: Teeth Whitening

Is it safe?  Will it strip your enamel?  Can you just use the bleach you have at home?  What really are the facts?

If carried out correctly – it’s completely safe! Plus, it’s a quick, easy and effective way of transforming your smile.


To understand tooth whitening it’s important to understand the structure of a tooth. Put simply, without the boring science bits, there are 3 main layers to a tooth. Enamel, dentine and the pulp or the nerve which is connected to the body’s nervous system.

Whilst enamel is the hardest substance in the body, it is not completely solid or impermeable. It is covered with microscopic holes (remember these, they’re called the ‘tubules’) However, it’s important to note, enamel has no ability to feel or to grow back; it’s an inert material and once it’s gone, it’s gone!

Under the enamel sits the dentine- This is a much softer, much more porous and much darker layer than the enamel. But it’s also much smarter, with the ability to repair itself and the ability to feel sensitivity.

The ratio of dentine to enamel is different in everyone and in each tooth; your canines for example, always appear darker than your other teeth, this is because of a higher dentine to enamel ratio.

The goal of tooth whitening is to change the colour of these top two layers!

How does it work?

Whichever treatment option is recommended for you, be it ‘home teeth whitening’ or ‘in-surgery laser teeth whitening’, the mechanics are the same. Contact of the teeth whitening gel on your teeth lightens the natural shade.


So remember those tubules we mentioned?

The gel penetrates these tubules, like water in a sponge and the oxygen molecules from the whitening gel react with the discolored molecules in your teeth, breaking the bonds that hold them together. The oxygen spreads and in doing so gradually removes the stain resulting in whitening of the entire tooth! (Sorry… we got a bit scientific there didn’t we?)

This also explains the sensitivity you may  hear some people experience but, this is transient. Once you’ve finished your treatment these tubules get filled up with  the minerals and particles from your toothpaste, food and saliva, which means  your enamel returns to it’s usual, robust self in no time. Most professional dental whitening gels account for this possible sensitivity and include an ingredient called potassium nitrate; a desensitising ingredient commonly found in sensitive toothpastes.


What is the BEST way for you to whiten your teeth?

The answer is easy- with a qualified dental practitioner. This way you are guaranteed to be using controlled chemicals (no, not under the sink bleach!) that have been deemed safe by all regulatory bodies.

No risk of irreparable damage to your enamel (which we know doesn’t grow back!). No burnt and blistered gums. And most importantly, you get support and guidance. Not only when choosing the best treatment option for you, but throughout the process and with an appropriate maintenance regime too. (Sadly, teeth whitening is not a do it once and it’s done type of treatment! – unless you’re strong enough to give up tea, coffee, red wine, & Indian food …No? Neither can we!)


Do I HAVE to sleep with a gum-shield on?


No, if night-time wear is something that fills you with dread then there are other options such as, day-time and in-surgery whitening. There are two common whitening gel ingredients that these treatments use.

Carbamide Peroxide– this includes added stablisers, which allows for a longer contact time, making it ideal for night-time wear.


Hydrogen Peroxide – which has a starting wear time of just 30mins; which is perfect for day-time whitening and in-surgery use.

Both have their part to play and each has their benefits  so BOOK A CONSULTATION NOW to see which treatment is right for you!

Please note – we would always advise a full dental examination to ensure your teeth and gums are healthy before proceeding with any teeth whitening treatment. At Holland Park Dental Centre, we are currently running a NEW PATIENT SPECIAL OFFER, so to take advantage of this as well, call us now!)

Quote “Blog1” to receive a FREE whitening consultation worth £50!


Dr. Shan Lam has been our dentist for more than thirteen years, and she has seen all of my three boys on a regular basis. Without her very early interventions and support, we would be looking at mouths full of fillings. She is professional, experienced and incredibly thorough. I cannot rate Dr. Lam’s professionalism and dental care enough.

Ms. Julie W

I have been a real ‘dentist phobe’ since I attended the school dentist over 50 years ago. I have found in Dr. Shan Lam a dentist who I can fully trust, who explains every procedure in detail and who gives me the confidence to have dental treatment. She has a real calming effect – I can’t recommend her highly enough.

Mrs. Linda H

Thank you to Dr. Shan Lam for the many years during which she has looked after my dental needs. She has always been so helpful and professional, and is an outstanding communicator—a trait not common among health care professionals. I can’t remember ever experiencing any pain or difficulties with any treatment she provided.

Mr. Stefan B

In the past, I had some awful experiences at the dentist, and I came to Dr. Shan Lam in 2008 to correct some visibly poor cosmetic dentistry work that I had received elsewhere. I was not disappointed: Not only is her treatment comfortable, but the results are also first class. We face the world with our smile, which is why not only my smile has improved but my mental health, too.

Mrs. Anne E

My husband and I have very much appreciated being treated by Dr. Shan Lam. We are both in our nineties and over the years have been treated by a large number of dental surgeons. Dr. Lam compares very well with the best of them.

Prof. Ivor S and Mrs. Audrey S

Thank you to Dr. Shan Lam for taking such good care of me and my teeth over the years. She has made going to the dentist a pleasure. I’m sure not many people can say that about a visit to a dentist, but I am certain all of her patients feel the same.

Mr. Clive B

Dr. Shan Lam has been the dentist for me and my family for over ten years. We have been very impressed with her efficiency, professionalism and attention to detail. She is very reassuring to the children, who actually look forward to their visits. We feel very lucky to have been looked after by Dr. Lam.

Ms. Yunfei G

I have been under the care of Dr. Shan Lam for over six years. She’s fantastic. She turned what can often be an intimidating experience into a warm, caring, safe and professional one. I always felt well looked after and I would absolutely recommend her to friends and family.

Mr. Peter W

Dr. Lam has made it a pleasure to visit the dentist for my family and I. She is always friendly and welcoming and easy to talk to. She explains what she is doing and why and gives good advice about dental care. She is a definite asset to any surgery.

Mrs. Lorna C

Thank you to Dr. Lam for her friendly, smiley treatment over the past years. I am so grateful to her for ensuring that my children’s first experience of going to the dentist has been so positive and fun. We will genuinely miss her.

Ms. Miranda G

Thank you so much to Dr. Lam for her skills and artistry – and also for her patience and good humour in the face of that worst-of-all world’s combination for a dentist – a patient with lousy teeth and a phobia of dentists! Dr. Lam has gone a long way to give me back my missing confidence in dentistry.

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