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Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening; Who? Why? How?

Over the years I have become more and more interested in safe tooth whitening. After a successful course of Orthodontic treatment, what better way to show off your attractive new straight smile than bright white teeth. I am also pleased to offer tooth whitening treatment to patients who have not had or needed orthodontic treatment. Your teeth may have lost there natural brightness due to stains from food, wine, tea, coffee, smoking or just getting older and damaged and dead teeth often look darker. Safe Teeth whitening does not harm your teeth or compromise the enamel hard coating that protects the teeth.

Before treatment I offer a professional consultation including an examination to ensure you don’t have any tooth decay or sore/swollen gums, discuss options available and give you a very clear idea of the likely results and any problems you may encounter. I use shade samples to establish your teeth’s current colour and show you samples of the colour you are likely to achieve after whitening. We take photographs to compare after treatment. Some teeth respond slower than others, and may need a longer period to get to the desired shade. We try to achieve a realistic result of at least 2-4 shades whiter, but there are no guarantees.


By law only Dentists (all registered Specialist Orthodontists are qualified dentists) and dental therapists and dental hygienists working to the prescription of a dentist may carry out teeth whitening in the UK. It is illegal for anyone else to carry out teeth whitening, for details see General Dental Council ( I support safe tooth whitening, see


Confidence, Attractiveness and Health
Don’t hide your teeth, talk behind your hand or smile without showing your teeth. You will be able to look in the mirror; be pleased with your smile, laugh out loud and look younger with bright white clean straight teeth.


After an initial consultation and agreement on your treatment plan impressions (moulds) of your teeth will be taken and sent to our laboratory who custom make trays to the exact measurements of your mouth to fit over your teeth. It is these trays that the whitening gel (bleach) is inserted in before you place over your teeth to start the whitening process. I will show you examples of trays and how to apply the gel and fit in your mouth and further instructions are here: Tooth Whitening Kit Instructions for use. Your trays and home whitening kit will be available to collect about 7 days after your initial visit. In the meantime, I strongly recommend a visit to our Hygienist for a 30 minute Airflow clean and scale, the cost of the hygiene visit is £70. This visit will remove any plaque or tartar build-up missed or not removed by tooth brushing and will clean and polish your teeth to remove any superficial stains. Your teeth will then be best prepared for home whitening.

How it works

The whitening gel (bleach) is between 0.1% and 6% hydrogen peroxide and can only be supplied by a dentist. As the active ingredient is broken down, oxygen enters the enamel on the teeth and the tooth colour is made lighter. Depending on the strength of peroxide in the gel The trays are worn for between 30 minutes a day to 8 hrs or overnight. Treatment time varies from 2 -6 weeks. The advantage of this treatment is that the teeth gradually whiten and the patient can decide when to stop or to continue until the desired result is achieved. During treatment you may experience some sensitivity for a short time this is normal and will soon fade away.

How much does it cost?

the treatment I offer is £250 to £350, other dentists I have seen advertise treatments from £99 to £745!

How long does it last?

This very much depends on your diet, and whether you smoke, but it will be anything from 3 months to 3 years. See Keeping your teeth White below for ways to prolong your teeth’s whiteness.

Keeping your Teeth White

How well you look after your newly whitened teeth makes a big difference as to how long they will stay white. Just as the time it takes to whiten teeth varies from person to person, the time whitening lasts also varies.

Tips for longer lasting Whiteness;

Oral Hygiene; Regular brushing twice a day with a whitening toothpaste and regular visits to the hygienist

Smoking; try to stop smoking.

Floss or Interdental Brush your teeth regularly.

Food; Avoid or limit food that can stain your teeth, such as chocolate, carrots and oranges.

Drink; Avoid or limit drink that can stain your teeth, tea, coffee, strong fruit squashes and red wine.

Alternative treatments

Internal bleaching

Internal bleaching can help lighten the colour of teeth that have darkened due to root canal treatment.

This treatment is carried out by drilling a hole in your tooth and injecting bleach into the tooth via the hole. The hole is then sealed and will be opened again as treatment will need to be repeated 2-6 times before being sealed permanently.

Power, Zoom or Laser whitening

These are teeth-bleaching procedures lasting 30-90 minutes and performed in a dental surgery. The hydrogen peroxide gel is applied to the teeth and an overhead lamp shines on your teeth allegedly accelerating the whitening process. It is not always a comfortable process and there are divided opinions as to whether these treatments achieve any better results. These treatments are the most expensive and time consuming at the surgery.

Over the counter kits / kits purchased online

These products if legal are limited to very low concentrations of whitening agents (similar to toothpastes). They also might not be safe as shops often fail to declare the precise chemicals used so it’s very difficult to assess their safety.

Beware there are no 100% guarantees

Darker stained teeth (tetracycline stained) may require a longer period of whitening. The whitening Gel will lighten your natural teeth, but will not lighten crowns, veneers, fillings or internal stains.

Alternatives to tooth whitening

Alternatives, such as veneers (thin, custom-made shells of tooth-colored materials designed to be stuck to the front surface of teeth to improve their appearance) usually costing £1-3,000 per tooth. Veneers require your natural teeth to be ground down and they have an expected lifetime of 5-20 years.

Further Information;
Considering Tooth Whitening?
Safe Tooth Whitening
Oral Health Foundation

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Dr Shirley Cox

BDS(Hons), FDS RCS (Eng), MSc(Lond), M Orth RCS(Eng), FDS Orth RCS (Eng)
GDC: 68425

Shirley qualified in Dentistry from The Royal London Hospital in 1992, achieved her M Orth specialist qualification in orthodontics and registered on the specialist list in Orthodontics in 2000. Shirley was appointed as Consultant Orthodontist at Barts Dental Hospital in 2004 and now works as an Orthodontic Consultant at the new Royal London Hospital site.

As a Consultant Orthodontist with over 20 years training Dentists and Orthodontists and her additional training in children’s dentistry Shirley is equipped with the skills to provide the very highest standards of patient care. Having orthodontic treatment with her means that you will be in the best possible hands.

Shirley is able to offer the very latest treatments available, enabling her to treat adult and child patients who have simple, moderate and complex needs and to improve both the appearance and the function of their teeth.

Being an Invisalign Platinum provider, Invisalign Teen accredited and member of the Invisalign London Specialist Orthodontist group put Shirley in a unique position to offer Invisalign treatment for a very wide range of cases.

“Patients in my care receive my personal attention at all times and are treated solely by me. I love to treat patients and help them achieve and keep for life the beautiful, healthier and happier smiles they desire. I look forward to meeting you and helping however I can.”

Outside of orthodontics Shirley lives locally with her husband and two teenage children. For many years Shirley has been a Local School Governor and organises a local book club. Shirley enjoys active holidays whether its walking in Norfolk, skiing in the Alps or exploring further afield with her family.

Shirley Cox

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