How can I whiten just one tooth

Bleaching - ways of teeth whitening

How does whitening work?

The bleaching agent hydrogen peroxide brightens the enamel, more precisely the pigments in it. These usually change color over the years, especially from coffee, tea, red wine or tobacco. The bleaching process can be accelerated by using heat (UV light or laser).

In dental practices, concentrations between 0.1 and 6.0 percent hydrogen peroxide are used. Over-the-counter bleaching materials from the drugstore have only contained a maximum of 0.1 percent hydrogen peroxide since the end of 2012 and therefore have a low bleaching effect.
These are, for example, means that are brushed or glued on, or prefabricated splints. Discoloration from coffee, tea, red wine or tobacco can also be removed by professional teeth cleaning.

Which variants do dentists offer?

The bleach can only be applied in the dentist's office. This variant is called "In-office whitening". Depending on the original tooth color and the desired color, several appointments are necessary for this. The agent must take effect for 20 to 30 minutes. The gums must be well covered. Another method is that"Home whitening". The dentist receives individually adapted plastic splints with filled in carbamide peroxide gel. The splints are worn at home for one to two hours a day, generally two weeks in total, depending on the desired whiteness For this, the dentist has to open the tooth and apply a special bleaching agent to the upper part of the root canal. The tooth is then temporarily closed. This insert is changed once a week until the desired shade is achieved.


A detailed diagnosis must be carried out before bleaching. Tooth decay and periodontal disease must be treated in advance. Dentists must also clarify the causes of the tooth discoloration and remove plaque. Before treatment, patients should be informed about treatment alternatives and the consequences of existing filling or denture therapies, since according to the German Dental Association, a whitening treatment can trigger further dental interventions.

What does it cost and what are the risks?

The whitening has to be paid for in full and can cost between 300 and 800 euros, depending on the procedure and effort (increase factor in the dentists' private fee schedule).


  • for home bleaching around € 200 to € 400
  • for in-office bleaching around 30 to 70 euros per tooth
  • for power bleaching with a lamp around 600 to 800 euros

Note: How long the bleaching effect lasts depends on the procedure, oral hygiene and the condition of the teeth. Ideally, the teeth stay white for several years, sometimes they can darken again after a few months.

Whitening agents only whiten natural teeth. The color of crowns or fillings cannot be changed. Bleaching can cause temporary hypersensitivity of the teeth or a burning sensation in the mucous membranes. If there is caries or periodontitis or if the crown margins are leaky, bleaching must not be carried out, as the hydrogen peroxide penetrates the tooth and irritates the nerve.

The possible long-term consequences and possible effects of repeated applications are still being researched; an acute hazard when used correctly is currently not known 1, 2. However, an individual risk analysis based on the condition of the teeth is important for the consumer. Products for “do-it-yourself” bleaching at home carry the risk of the bleaching agent irritating the gums and causing inflammation if the dosage is inaccurate and the splints are badly fitted. In addition, a lower dosage is prescribed here, so that the bleaching effect is only slight.

Dental cosmetics are not only offered by dentists. Dental or dental estheticians also carry out “tooth whitening” or “wellness tooth cleaning”. These designations are not protected and can be acquired in a short period of time, for example, in "Dental Cosmetics Academies" without prior dental knowledge. The use of whitening products with more than 0.1 percent hydrogen peroxide content has been reserved exclusively for dentists since a new version of the EU Cosmetics Regulation. Before that, bleaching gels, varnishes or strips with a hydrogen peroxide content of up to six percent were also available in drugstores and pharmacies.

Anyone planning to bleach their teeth themselves should definitely go to the dentist before use and have their teeth checked for tooth decay, gum damage, leaky crown margins, exposed tooth necks or other damage.


more on the subject

What is important in bleaching - information from the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Dentists (KZBV)