There are a lot of options presented to us for different ways to whiten your teeth. Everything from rinses, chewing gums, strips, gels, trays and professional in-office whitening systems offered by dentists.
How is one supposed to make sense out of all of the noise?
The cool thing is that you can try them, often with little financial or personal risk.
The rinses, pastes, gums and toothpastes don’t cost very much, so you certainly have the ability to try them. In the professional literature and my experience I’ve found very little to instill any confidence that they will work at.
The next level would be Whitestrips and gels that you can paint on your teeth. Some of these are made by well known companies and are very safe, but rarely really effective in making a significant change. Once again, it’s costs very little to try them.
The next level are the tray systems. There are some that you can buy in a pharmacy or online that have the gel loaded in them. They are usually very easy to use and still not too expensive. I have seen some of these have noticeable effects for my patients.
But, here is where things get problematic. If they are stock, not custom made trays, they don’t fit well and your saliva will go right in there and weaken the effectiveness of the gel. More importantly, the gel will also leak out of the trays onto your gums and other sensitive tissues in your mouth and you will likely ingest the gel.
Now we are presented with the larger risks. If they don’t have a strong concentration of the peroxides to whiten they won’t whiten the teeth. If they do have stronger concentrations to really whiten your teeth your soft tissues are at risk as well as your overall health and safety. This is especially true if you use products from unknown companies that don’t have reputations to protect and go through the proper vetting to get to market. The risk factor is now elevated.
The most traditional way of effectively whitening your teeth is though your dentist. Your dentist will use the proper materials that have gone through all of the testing and regulations to ensure your safety.
The dentist will also make custom fitted trays that fit very accurately which will allow slightly stronger gels to stay trapped in the trays while keeping your saliva out. This is when the process has the ability to start to predictably whiten teeth for most people.
There are formulations for night and daytime use. The top researchers in the field have found the best results come from wearing the trays overnight.
Many people prefer to wear the trays for 45 minutes during the day using a stronger daytime gel.
You should talk to your local dentist to see which regime is better for you.
Finally, and most predictably, people are choosing the in-office technique. In this process the dentist and dental staff will isolate the teeth, protecting all of the soft tissues in the mouth. This professional teeth whitening techniques uses very strong peroxides and quickly and predictably whitens the teeth.
Typically, a visit in the office will take about an hour to reapply the gel a few times.
Just about every patient leaves with teeth 6-8 shades lighter. This is very noticeable.
In our office, to achieve the absolute BEST results we start our patients with an in-office ZOOM! treatment, send them home for 2 weeks with custom-made trays and then finish them with another in-office ZOOM! treatment.
It is important to recognize that as we progressed through the options the treatment was becoming more predictable and less risky as the procedure is both being done by highly trained dental teams that are only using tested and approved materials.
So, if you have the luxury of time you can certainly roll the dice with the OTC options and see if they get you where you’d like to be or get your teeth whitened professionally by a highly trained team, like ours at Dillon Family Dentistry.
Dr. David M Dillon, DMD
Dr. Dillon is a 3rd generation dentist, his family has been serving the Bryn Mawr area in dentistry for over 50 years.