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Teeth whitening is best left to the experts

With an abundance of teethwhitening options on the market, it’s difficult to know whether to invest in professional treatment, or just nip down to your local pharmacy. Throw “oil pulling” into the mix (a natural process that uses coconut oil, which Miranda Kerr is a fan of) and we find ourselves in a bit of a predicament. We asked three experts to share their pearls of wisdom.

Dr Mark Hughes

Panasonic’s smile expert

“Professional teeth whitening is always preferable to kits bought off the shelf. The chemicals used are strictly regulated, so the levels of these key ingredients in products you can buy are very low, meaning that they often have little or no effect. The other benefit to having your teeth whitened by a professional is safety. It is always recommended to have a full dental health exam before starting teeth-whitening treatment, because if you have tooth decay or gum disease, teeth whitening can cause painful sensitivity and even damage to your teeth.”

Dr Zaki Kanaan

Owner of K2 Dental

“Professionally applied whitening is far preferable to home kits. Only teethwhitening products used by a dental care professional are permitted to have the higher legal limit of 6 per cent hydrogen peroxide (HP). Moreover, the trays supplied in most over-the-counter kits are loose, which increases the risk of ingesting of the whitening gel. Philips have an innovative addition to the teeth-whitening family called Quick Pro: this uses a 6 per cent HP solution which is painted on the teeth at home and coated with a layer of varnish to lock it on the teeth. Used twice a day for 30 minutes each time, it does away with the need for trays and is therefore a more cost-effective teeth-whitening option.”

Dr Sohere Roked Holistic GP

“In terms of safety and cost, oil pulling is the preferable method for teeth whitening. It is an Ayurvedic practice that has been around for thousands of years and literally means to pull out toxins from the stomach. It involves taking 1 teaspoon of coconut oil on an empty stomach and swishing it around the mouth for five to 20 minutes. People often report whiter teeth from this process. This is possibly due to the oil itself causing the teeth to look whiter and shinier, or from the gums looking pinker, which makes the teeth look brighter. Other reported benefits are anything from improving skin to less exhaustion, although these have not been proven.”

‘The low levels of key chemicals in products available over the counter mean they often have little or no effect’