Everybody wants a dazzling white smile. Daily, we see pictures of models, actors, media stars and even politicians who have brilliant white teeth. It’s become almost a requirement to have your teeth whitened before a wedding or a school picture, or even before a big party. At Lifetime Family Dental in Gilbert, we offer professional teeth whitening as part of our extensive cosmetic dentistry services. But we also receive quite a few questions about DIY at-home teeth whitening kits—questions like, Are they safe? Are they effective? How do they compare with your professional services?
Are they safe?
Well, the short answer is yes . . . and no. There are several different kinds of teeth whitening kits available over the counter for home use. Some of these contain bleaching agents that can cause chemical burns or permanent damage to your teeth and gums. One product was found to contain sodium perborate, a chemical banned in Europe, because it was found to cause infertility and fetal abnormalities. Many home teeth whitening kits use a very weak solution of hydrogen peroxide, which is relatively safe, but may not be extremely effective.
LED and laser whitening kits are becoming popular for DIY use at home. They use light to speed up the whitening process. However, some of these still contain a chemical cocktail that may cause increased sensitivity in teeth after using the product. Especially avoid products that advertise more than a 10% hydrogen peroxide solution. The chemicals can cause enamel to break down, leading to the opposite of your desired effect by giving you severely stained teeth. In addition, hydrogen peroxide can easily kill the beneficial oral biome in your mouth that prevents cavity formation, gum disease, and bad breath.
Are they effective?
Home teeth whitening kits vary in effectiveness. From strips to lasers, the results will be different in both the degree of whitening that occurs, and the time it takes to reach the desired level of whiteness. What is even more confusing is that certain products will not work on particular stains, and may even make the stains worse.
Typically, the whitening agents in “whitening toothpaste” are abrasive materials that remove surface stains and can also remove tooth enamel. These are the least effective kinds of DIY teeth whitening kits. In kits that use whitening strips, it is hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide that bleaches the teeth. Again, while they can be effective whitening agents, they are also considered toxic materials when used in the body.
LED Blue Light whitening kits claim to enhance the results of hydrogen peroxide bleaching. In fact, the light emitted by the blue LEDs has virtually no impact on the whitening process. By contrast, laser whitening uses ultraviolet radiation that heats up the bleaching solution and does provide a dramatic acceleration of the whitening process. Laser whitening is regulated by the FDA and is only available as a professional dental service.
How do DIY teeth whitening kits compare to professional services?
While some home use teeth whitening kits are effective over time, only a professional whitening service can produce the brightest, whitest smile. At Lifetime Family Dental, we provide in-office treatment that can get your teeth six to eight shades whiter during one, hour-long treatment. And while the treatment is occurring, your gums and lips are protected from the peroxide gel so discomfort is greatly lessened or even eliminated. In addition, we provide a safe at-home whitening procedure as a follow-up to keep your teeth looking their best and brightest. Give us a call to make an appointment, and we’ll discuss what teeth whitening can do for you. With an effective professional treatment that won’t harm your teeth or gums, you can be ready to show the world your dazzling smile!