Is it worth it to try DIY teeth whitening? Or is it better to have it done at the dentist? For that matter, is teeth whitening even safe to do?
If you’ve been asking yourself these questions, we have the answers you need right here. What follows is the ultimate guide on at-home teeth whitening.
We’ll explain how it works, compare different teeth whitening products, and share how at-home treatment measures up to professional whitening methods. Lastly, we cover any issues you need to consider before you decide which option to try.
Read on to make an informed decision about teeth whitening at home.
How Does Teeth Whitening Work?
Most teeth whitening methods use hydrogen peroxide as the active ingredient, though some use carbamide peroxide. The important thing is that the whitening agent doesn’t merely remove surface stains.
After all, the surface layer is translucent enamel, which doesn’t much affect the color of your teeth. It’s when the layer of dentin beneath the enamel gets stained that the tooth becomes discolored.
This inner layer is what teeth whitening products act on. They penetrate past the outer layer of enamel into the inner layer of dentin. There, the whitening agents remove any deep, set-in stains.
How Is DIY Teeth Whitening Different Than In-Office Teeth Whitening?
The main difference between DIY and in-office teeth whitening methods is the amount of active ingredient used. In-office teeth whitening products use a significantly higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide. Thus, the procedure takes less time and it whitens much more effectively than at-home options.
DIY teeth whitening kits, on the other hand, have a much weaker concentration of hydrogen peroxide. This is mostly for safety reasons, though.
Is DIY Teeth Whitening Safe?
You see, the hydrogen peroxide dehydrates the teeth as it whitens them. However, this effect is harmless when the whitening product is used for the appropriate amount of time. If the product is left on too long, though, the resulting dehydration leads to increased tooth sensitivity.
That’s why the at-home products have a weaker concentration. It decreases the chance that the tooth will become too dehydrated. Also, it means that the more potent whitening products are used only under the supervision of professional dentists.
Aside from this, and some minor gum irritation, there are no significant side effects worth mentioning.
Is DIY Teeth Whitening Effective?
The short answer to this question is, yes. The active whitening agent works on the dentin of your teeth exactly as described above. However, not all teeth are the same and neither are all stains.
Thus, your personal results may be that the whiteness of your teeth improves remarkably. Or, you may find that you need several applications of your DIY whitening method of choice before you see such improvement.
One fact that is true for everyone, though, is that in-office teeth whitening procedures are far more effective than at-home kits. Basically, this means that significantly stained teeth will be brightened up faster and with fewer applications when whitened professionally.
What Types of DIY Teeth Whitening Products Are There?
Now, let’s go over your at-home options for teeth whitening. Note that the effectiveness of each of these options depends on many factors.
For example, these products vary in their concentration of hydrogen peroxide and in their usage instructions. So, a brand-name teeth whitening kit might work better than a cheap, generic kit, or vice versa.
To start with, there are teeth whitening toothpastes. These are not as effective as other whitening products.
But they do help to remove a minimal amount of stain from your teeth each time you brush. This at least removes any fresh stains your teeth incur each day.
Thus, these toothpastes are a good option for keeping your teeth from getting any more stained than they already are. That also means that they help preserve the whiteness of your teeth once they’ve been whitened by other products.
The most popular products used exclusively to whiten teeth are teeth whitening strips. These are very easy to use so there is little room for error. They are also a lot more effective than whitening toothpaste alone.
Mainly, though, they’re the most convenient option. Generally, these strips are used daily for a few minutes at a time. After about two weeks of this, your teeth should be at least two shades lighter.
Whitening Gel Trays
Whitening gel trays are even more effective and can get your teeth 5 or more shades whiter. But that’s because you have to leave them sitting in your mouth longer than the strips. Specifically, you keep the gel-filled trays upon your teeth for multiple hours a day, every day for several weeks.
Generally, these trays are not to be left in overnight unless they are custom-fit trays provided by your dentist. However, to achieve this level of whiteness, it’s a lot more convenient to have it done in-office by your dentist, anyway.
What DIY Teeth Whitening Can’t Do
One of the most important things to consider when whitening teeth is whether you have any porcelain/composite crowns, fillings, or other dental work. The problem is, these dental treatments are usually made to match the shade of your teeth. So, if the rest of your teeth become much lighter, that porcelain crown will look awkwardly darker by comparison.
Furthermore, remember that your teeth already were lighter at one point in time. What we mean is that they became stained in the first place by your diet and dental hygiene habits. And so they will again unless you make some changes.
For instance, dark and acidic liquids like wine, dark soda, and coffee stain your teeth very easily. So does smoking. Besides that, your freshly white teeth will be very easy to stain, like a new pair of white shoes.
Consider this, then, if you plan to whiten your teeth. You will either need to make some oral care changes or you’ll have to re-whiten your teeth more often.
Why It’s Important to Consult Your Dentist First
You’re dentist should at least have a look at your teeth to determine if whitening is a good idea. For one thing, they will first want to make sure your teeth are healthy and that you don’t need any fillings or other dental work. They will also point out any crowns and other dental issues that will affect the look of your whitened smile.
Are You Ready to Give Teeth Whitening a Try?
Now that you no longer have any reason for concern, what did you decide? Whether you wish to try DIY teeth whitening or in-office whitening, we can help. Contact us here with any questions you have or to schedule your appointment for professional teeth whitening.