December 22, 2014

How Teeth Whitening Works?

Your teeth are a large part of your overall appearance. If they don’t look their best, dull teeth can affect your confidence. Teeth can become yellowed by drinking coffee or smoking cigarettes. Often brushing isn’t even enough to remove the stains. Luckily, there are many products on the market today that can restore your teeth to their natural beauty. Tooth whitening products have become increasingly popular and come in a variety of forms. Although they won’t work for everyone, knowledge of the different tooth whitening options and how they work will help you choose the best product for you.

Health Risks and Limitations

Tooth whitening isn’t for everyone. There are health risks and limitations that make them dangerous or ineffective for certain groups of people. Women who are pregnant or nursing shouldn’t use tooth whitening products. There simply isn’t enough research to ensure the safety of the ingredients for mother and child. Likewise, those with gum disease are discouraged from using these products because the whitening solutions can cause extra sensitivity. People with cracked teeth or cavities should have these problems fixed by a dentist before using any tooth whitening product. Finally, tooth whitening products don’t work on dental restorations such as crowns, fillings and veneers. Whitening your teeth with these types of repairs will result in an uneven appearance. You should whiten your teeth first, so the new dental work will match your whiter teeth.

The natural undertones of your teeth have an effect on how well tooth whitening products will work. People with yellow undertones respond best to tooth whitening, while people with brown undertones have moderate success. People with grey undertones will see little if any results. If you are considering whitening your teeth, you should keep this in mind to avoid disappointment.

The cause of your tooth stains could also be a factor in the effectiveness of tooth whitening products. They work best on stains caused by coffee, wine, soda or cigarettes. However, whitening products could be ineffective if you have a genetic predisposition to yellowed or off-white teeth.

Whitening Toothpaste

Whitening toothpaste has become increasingly popular as more and more companies include whitening agents in their products. Almost every brand of toothpaste on the market today claims some degree of whitening ability. These products can be found in any store that sells toothpaste and cost slightly more than non-whitening toothpaste.

Whitening toothpaste uses hydrogen peroxide and a small amount of bleaching agent to remove surface stains from your teeth. The effectiveness of any whitening product is measured in the amount of bleaching agent used and the amount of time it is on the teeth. Whitening toothpaste has limited whitening capabilities. Even after a thorough brushing, whitening toothpaste isn’t on the teeth long enough and doesn’t have enough whitening ingredients to produce dramatic results. The best you can expect is a slight reduction in the discoloration that can occur from coffee, wine, soda or cigarettes.

Over-the-Counter Tooth Whitening Kits

Over-the-counter tooth whitening kits are available at most supermarkets and pharmacies. They cost more than whitening toothpaste, but produce better results. These kits can be purchased in a variety of forms including strips, paint on bleach and disposable mouth trays.

These kits are used for a longer period of time to produce more noticeable results. They whiten your teeth better because they are worn on your teeth for at least sixty minutes a day for one to two weeks. The active ingredients in this tooth whitening method stay on the teeth longer, thus whitening your teeth better.

The main disadvantage of these products lies in their application. The instructions indicate that you are to apply the product to all of your teeth, front and back. It is quite easy to fit the strips over front teeth. However, they can be difficult to fit over teeth in the back of your mouth. Similarly, the disposable mouth trays are often too small to cover both front and back teeth. These difficulties can lead to uneven results. You will have pearly white front teeth, but untreated back teeth.

Anyone purchasing whitening toothpaste or over-the-counter kits should expect limited results. Since these products are self-administered, the amount of active ingredients has to be limited for consumer safety.

Professional At-Home Tooth Whitening Kits

Not to be confused with over-the-counter brands, professional at-home tooth whitening kits are purchased from the dentist and contain professional ingredients. Their applications are similar, but kits purchased from your dentist are more customized to your particular needs.

Instead of a one-size-fits-all disposable mouth piece, your dentist will make a mold of your mouth to create a custom mouth piece. This will ensure that all of your teeth receive proper treatment, and will result in whiter front and back teeth.

The dentist also monitors the amount of ingredient needed for your particular needs, and how long the product should be used. Depending on your dentist’s recommendations, the professional at-home tooth whitening kits are worn between 30 and 90 minutes a day for two weeks or overnight for one to two weeks.

The professional at-home tooth whitening kits are a great value for the results that are achieved. They have impressive results, whitening teeth by up to ten shades. For a relatively small price, you can have professionally whitened teeth with customized ingredients and materials. Follow-up treatments are available if the staining returns.

Dentist In-Office Whitening


By far the most expensive tooth whitening method is a dentist in-office bleaching. If you can afford it, though, this method is also the fastest and the most effective.

There are two in-office methods dentists use to whiten teeth. Light activated bleaching uses laser or LED powered light to improve the whiteness of your teeth. In only 60 minutes, your teeth could be up to nine shades whiter. Examples of this type of treatment include Zoom and Sapphire. Even though the results are impressive, light activated bleaching is rarely used because of its cost effectiveness and because of the safety risks to the patients. Non-light activated bleaching, on the other hand, uses bleaching gels in one or more office visits. One particular treatment, called Deep Bleaching, claims to be so effective that it not only can whiten the toughest teeth stains, but also whiten teeth underneath veneers. Deep Bleaching is completed in just two office visits and is combined with the use of an at-home treatment. Dentists prefer the non-light activated bleaching method because of its outstanding results and is much safer than the alternative.

The dentist in-office whitening method has the best results of all tooth whitening products. Dentists can use the best ingredients at the right dosages depending on each patient’s particular needs. These treatments also last the longest. With proper use of after-care products, you can expect an in-office whitening to last as long as five years.

There are only two disadvantages to a dentist’s professional in-office treatment. Although the procedure is painless, it can cause sensitivity to gums. If you are prone to sensitive gums, you may want to take this into consideration when deciding which tooth whitening method is right for you. Also, this method can be quite costly. Treatments can cost over $1000, plus the cost of the after-care products.

Our Advice

In conclusion, there are many options available to you if you want to whiten your teeth. Depending on the severity of the staining, you could choose either over-the-counter products or a professional treatment from your dentist. If you just have mild teeth staining, whitening toothpaste might be just the thing you need to make them brighter. If toothpaste doesn’t do the trick, try the over-the-counter tooth whitening kits. Both of these products provide adequate results for a modest price. For severe tooth stains, you might want to consider consulting with a dentist who can help you decide if a professional treatment is more suitable to your needs.