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What is the best way to whiten teeth?

Emma Sims
16 Jun 2022
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Maintaining a set of pearly whites shouldn’t be like pulling teeth

Whether it’s the self-care revolution or the Love Island effect, teeth whitening is big business. But with lots of scams out there and some downright dangerous unlicensed dentistry, finding an effective and affordable way to whiten your teeth can be tricky.

There was a time, for example, when charcoal toothpaste was all the rage. But recent experts have busted the myth that it’s a suitable everyday tooth whitening product: it’s too abrasive to form a part of your daily dental routine, and most charcoal toothpastes don’t contain fluoride, which is essential for strengthening tooth enamel. Underscoring this is the fact that more long-term research is needed on the impact of charcoal dental products.

We’ve delved into the world of teeth whitening to bring you the best dental solutions out there. Read on for our tips and tricks for maintaining a Ross-from-Friends-worthy set of gnashers (well, not quite).

The best way to whiten teeth: At the dentist’s office

It’s not the cheapest option out there, but it’s by far the best. If you want to lighten your teeth a few shades and generally keep them in good nick, head to a dentist’s surgery for treatment. Proper teeth whitening involves bleaching the outer layers of the teeth (with speciality bleach, not the household variety), and should, as the NHS website points out, be carried out by a trained dental professional (a dentist, dental hygienist or dental therapist – the latter two on the prescription of a dentist). Dentists must be registered with the General Dental Council.

If you’re comfortable receiving treatment in a dental surgery, one way to undergo teeth whitening is via laser treatment. A bleaching agent is applied to teeth, and afterwards a laser is shone on the surface of the teeth to activate the bleach. This process is relatively speedy and takes around an hour.

Meanwhile, if you’re someone who shies away from the dentist’s chair (aren’t we all) you can opt for a version of teeth whitening that involves applying bleaching gel to a mouthguard-style tray and wearing it for a number of hours every other day. For this, you’ll need to get your mouthguard moulded in the dental surgery so it fits properly, but after that it’s a case of self-administering the gel at home.

The bad news is that teeth whitening is commonly viewed as a cosmetic process, so it’s exceptionally unlikely to be covered on the NHS. You’ll need to pay for private teeth whitening treatment, which will set you back between £200-£600 (for a dentist-provided at-home bleaching kit) and between £300 and upwards of £1,000 for the speedier laser treatment.

READ NEXT: The best teeth whitening kits

The best way to whiten teeth: At-home teeth-whitening kits

When it comes to teeth whitening kits, there’s a vast range of options on offer. From whitening toothpastes to LED gel kits to touch-up whitening pens, the sheer volume of products on offer can be overwhelming. We surveyed the best whitening kits in the game in our full-length round-up here.

It should be noted that when it comes to whitening kits, these products really do pale (ironically) in comparison to the services offered by dental professionals, who can create tailor made lightening trays for a more even result, use stronger bleaching agents and recommend the best way to whiten teeth for your particular dental needs (some gums are more sensitive, for example, and therefore more susceptible to blistering from errant bleaching gels).

Our favourite teeth whitening strips from Spotlight Oral Care are coated in hydrogen peroxide to boost whiteness in teeth. The two-week course promises a brighter smile and is manifestly easy to use: brush your teeth using the included whitening toothpaste, gently dry them, then apply the strips for one hour. Repeat over the two-week period. In our experience, the result is a soft but noticeable lightening of the teeth, though you may have to wait 14 days to see the full effect.

Buy Spotlight Oral Care whitening strips now from Amazon


Meanwhile, the whitening pen from Spotlight Oral Care makes a welcome and easy-to-use accompaniment to the brand’s whitening strips. Use the pen to dispense a small amount of hydrogen peroxide-infused whitening gel, and apply to problem or hard-to-reach areas of your soon-to-be pearly whites.

Buy Spotlight Oral Care whitening pen now from Amazon


The best way to whiten teeth: A really good electric toothbrush

At the end of the day, if you fail to brush your teeth frequently – or if you use a subpar brush or technique – yellow-ish plaque will build up on your gnashers. That’s why a high-quality toothbrush is such a must. We navigated a host of identical-looking electric toothbrushes to bring you a round-up of the best.


If you’re looking for a mid-range electric toothbrush that won’t break the bank, the Oral-B Pro 3 3000 was crowned best affordable brush by us. Aside from its momentous battery life (two weeks can easily be eked out of one charge, potentially three), the Oral-B Pro 3 3000 has a trio of cleaning modes: Sensitive, Daily Clean and Whitening. The first applies softer pressure for days your teeth and gums are feeling susceptible to discomfort, the second is a good middle-of-the-road and the third offers a strong blitz to help remove stains.

Buy the Oral-B Pro 3 3000 from Amazon now


If you want to invest in a higher end electric toothbrush model, Oral-B’s iO Series 6 brush has impressive features: it charts where and how you’re brushing your teeth, gums and tongue, channelling that information back to the Oral-B app. There are five cleaning modes, including ones angled towards sensitive teeth, gum care and whitening. The Series 6 has the added bonus of being relatively quiet too – Oral-B’s magnetic motor delivers power without that deafening, raggedy noises that emanate from some electric toothbrushes.

Buy the Oral-B iO Series 6 from Amazon now


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