Teeth whitening – Options, risks and results

Professional teeth whitening allows you to whiten your teeth by several shades. Here you will find everything you should look out for when whitening your teeth and what alternatives there are.

Reading time: 9min

Topic: whitening

Tooth whitening

What is teeth whitening?

Tooth whitening involves various methods to remove unwanted colour pigments on the teeth. Generally speaking, dental bleaching refers to a chemical process in which hydrogen peroxide penetrates into the tooth enamel, splits off oxygen radicals (atoms or molecules with at least one unpaired electron) and thus neutralises discoloured molecules.


Good to know

The term “bleaching” means to make something whiter and/or to remove stains from it.

To achieve the desired result when whitening your teeth and to avoid any damage, professional teeth whitening is recommended. The most common teeth whitening treatments in dentistry are home bleaching and power bleaching, also called in-office bleaching.

Why should I whiten my teeth?

Teeth are almost never perfectly white by nature. The natural ageing process or external influences, such as the consumption of certain drinks and/or foods like coffee, cause the teeth to darken over time and discolouration becomes visible. By bleaching your teeth, these colour pigments can be removed and the teeth can be whitened by several shades.

Benefits of teeth whitening:

  • Increased self-confidence
  • Younger look
  • Fast results
  • Final touch for a new smile

For many, having white teeth means having beautiful teeth. There are even studies showing that people with white teeth are perceived to be more likeable. So it is no surprise that many would like to have a radiant smile with white teeth.

However, there are a few things you should look out for when removing tooth discolouration. We will explain why discolouration can occur, how tooth whitening works, what the most common treatments for white teeth are, who should avoid them and how you can whiten your teeth.

Best methods for teeth whitening

In addition to professional whitening, the most common and popular methods are simple domestic remedies. Below is a brief overview of the various methods, their differences and what you should pay attention to.

  Professional whitening Home bleaching Whitening toothpaste





Immediate result


Easy to use


Not suitable for sensitive teeth

Should be repeated regularly

Little effect, temporary results


More than 1 year

Less than 1 year

Very short term

Home bleaching: costs, advantages and disadvantages

Unlike many teeth whitening treatments you get in the shop, home bleaching requires a professional whitening gel. In order for patients to whiten their teeth at home, they need custom-fit plastic trays.

Patients can fill the bleaching gel into their individual trays (aligners) and place them onto their teeth. Depending on the strength of the bleaching agent, the patient needs to wear the aligners for 1–8 hours. With the home bleaching it is possible to whiten the entire dental arch.

Home bleaching costs

Home bleaching trays come in various types, which also differ in price. Simple trays start at CHF 50, but they are usually not a perfect fit. Custom-made whitening trays from the dentist start at around CHF 400.

At bestsmile you get a home bleaching kit for free with an Aligner treatment of both jaws. Whitening your teeth is the finishing touch for your new smile and you can pay for the Aligner treatment in flexible monthly instalments from CHF 70.

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Advantages of home bleaching

  • Gentle
  • Can be applied flexibly

Disadvantages of home bleaching

  • Should be repeated regularly

How long does a home bleaching last?

Depending on the intensity of the whitening gel used, lifestyle habits and dental hygiene, a home bleaching lasts between 3 to 24 months.

Professional, power bleaching: costs, advantages and disadvantages

A professional whitening is a power bleaching or an in-office bleaching. This type of teeth whitening is performed directly in the dental practice.

Teeth are covered with a bleaching agent, which should be left on for 15–45 minutes. The gums are protected from the strong bleaching agent with a rubber-like coating. Unlike home bleaching, power bleaching can be applied to individual teeth and usually requires a stronger bleaching agent, which also means a stronger whitening effect.

Power bleaching costs

A professional power bleaching starts at around CHF 300.

Advantages of power bleaching

  • Long-lasting results
  • Visible results already after the first session

Disadvantages of power bleaching

  • Short-term hypersensitivity of the teeth
  • More expensive

How long does a power bleaching last?

As a general rule, the effects of a professional bleaching last for over a year.

Whitening toothpaste: costs, advantages and disadvantages

Nowadays, there is a wide choice of whitening toothpastes, but they are no substitute for proper whitening. With this type of tooth whitening, no chemical agent penetrates into the tooth. Discolouration caused by build-up is just removed from the tooth surface. Furthermore, the whitening effect of such bleaching products is also often only temporary and, in contrast to professional tooth whitening, relatively weak.

Risks of whitening toothpaste

Whitening toothpaste can only remove superficial discolouration. You should be careful, however, as this can also attack the tooth enamel. Tiny cracks can appear on the tooth surface where colour pigments can be deposited more easily. In the long term, such products can discolour the tooth rather than whiten it.

Whitening toothpaste costs

Whitening toothpastes are available starting at CHF 5 in conventional supermarkets.

Advantages of whitening toothpaste

  • Easy to use
  • Inexpensive
  • Also suitable for sensitive teeth

Disadvantages of whitening toothpaste

  • Little whitening effect
  • Can only remove discolouration due to build-up
  • Can attack the tooth surface

How long does the effect of whitening toothpaste last?

The whitening effect is very little and only temporary. Depending on the consumption of coffee, red wine or cigarettes, plaque will form again fairly quickly.

Teeth whitening before and after

  • Teeth whitening before after
    Teeth whitening before after
  • Teeth whitening before after
    Teeth whitening before after
  • Teeth whitening before after
    Teeth whitening before after
  • Teeth whitening before after
    Teeth whitening before after
  • Teeth whitening before after
    Teeth whitening before after

The results of tooth whitening can vary from person to person. The natural tooth colour, lifestyle habits and also how strong the whitening effect is, all have an impact on the final result.

Who can whiten their teeth?

There are a few things to consider when whitening your teeth, because not everyone's teeth can be whitened. If the teeth are healthy and not affected by cavities, teeth whitening is usually harmless. You should, however, be careful if you have impaired oral health or sensitive teeth. Furthermore, before whitening your teeth, always consult a dentist to avoid damaging teeth and gums.

Who should avoid teeth whitening?

  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • Children
  • People with diseased gums, gum inflammation, exposed necks of teeth

Generally speaking, pregnant and breastfeeding women, children or people with impaired oral health should not have their teeth whitened. If the teeth are not healthy and bleaching is nevertheless carried out, the sometimes aggressive ingredients can penetrate deep into the tooth, damage it from the inside and lead to painful hypersensitivity.

It is therefore advisable to carry out a thorough dental examination before any whitening procedure. For an effective result, it is recommended to remove plaque, debris and build-up before whitening your teeth through a professional tooth cleaning.

Can fillings, crowns, bridges and veneers be whitened?

Whitening products only work on natural teeth. The colour of fillings, crowns, bridges or veneers cannot be changed by bleaching as the desired result may not be achieved if these are in the visible area of the dental arch.

What are the risks of teeth whitening?

Your teeth may be slightly more sensitive after bleaching them, but the hypersensitivity goes away fairly quickly. It is important to use gentle and professional products to avoid risks.

bestsmile bleaching

At bestsmile, patients who opt for the Aligner treatment of both jaws get a home bleaching kit for free. The bleaching does not require any separate dental tray, as we already use custom-made aligners for our Aligner treatment. To successfully whiten your teeth, all you need are your custom-made Aligners and the whitening gel supplied, which lasts for 2 to 3 applications.

If you don’t have attachments, you can bleach your teeth during your treatment. But if you do have attachments, you should wait until they have been removed to make sure that the colour is consistent. 2–3 days after your bleaching, you should avoid strong pigmented foods such as coffee, red wine, curry or acidic fruit.

Home Bleaching with Aligners

How the bestsmile bleaching works

  1. Apply a thin and even layer of whitening gel into your Aligners on the visible anterior teeth.
  2. Insert the Aligners as usual.
  3. Remove the excess gel with a clean cotton swab.
  4. Wear the Aligners overnight, alternatively a few hours at a time.
  5. After the bleaching, clean your mouth and Aligners thoroughly with a toothbrush and some toothpaste.

How long does it last?

In most cases, it lasts between 3 months to a year, but it depends on the individual person. Depending on lifestyle habits and dental care, the bestsmile home bleaching should be repeated more often.

Tips for whiter teeth

To keep your teeth beautifully white, there are some habits and tips you can follow:

  • Good oral hygiene
  • Healthy diet
  • No smoking
  • Consume curry, red wine, coffee etc. in moderation

Why do teeth discolour in the first place?

There are several reasons why teeth discolour. On the one hand, the natural tooth colour may seem yellowish and has nothing to do with oral hygiene. On the other hand, external factors may affect the colour of the teeth. The shade and pigments of the tooth are often genetically determined. Generally speaking, there are 2 types of tooth discolouration.

1. Internal tooth discolouration

This is caused by the penetration of staining substances such as:

  • Medication and/or antibiotics
  • Mouthwashes that help prevent gingivitis or other oral health problems
  • Accidents and dental injuries that cause bleeding or death of the dental pulp
  • In addition, as we age, the whitish-bluish enamel wears away, causing the dentine to shimmer through the enamel.

2. External tooth discolouration

These occur when dental plaque is discoloured by food and stimulants such as fruit juices, coffee, black tea, red wine or tobacco smoke.

If this plaque is not removed regularly through thorough oral hygiene, tartar can develop, which can also promote tooth discolouration or bad breath. Since in this case the discolouration is mainly on the surface of the teeth, it can easily be removed with a professional tooth cleaning.


What is the difference between discolouration and plaque?

Plaque or build-up are superficial, discolourations are inside the tooth. In the case of discolouration, the colour pigments are embedded in the tooth enamel and dentine. These stains cannot be removed with a superficial tooth cleaning. With a bleaching, which acts inside the tooth, colouring pigments can be neutralised.

How can discolouration be prevented?

Even if none of the whitening methods are suitable for you, there are still various methods to prevent tooth discolouration. Thorough dental care is essential for healthy teeth and also removes superficial discolouration in the long term.

Nutrition & Co.

Especially after consuming acidic foods, teeth should not be cleaned immediately afterwards. The acid contained in juices, red wine, fruits etc. dissolves minerals from the tooth surface, which makes the teeth vulnerable. It takes about 30 minutes for our saliva to neutralise these acids and the pH value in the mouth to change again. Therefore, in order to protect the tooth surface and avoid discolouration, you should always wait about half an hour after eating and drinking before brushing your teeth.

Last update: 28.06.2024


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