There’s a massive amount of confusion out there when it comes to teeth whitening. There’s take home whitening kits sold in stores with strips and gels, mouth rinses and toothpastes that claim to whiten your teeth, and all kinds of home remedies and concoctions that you can read about in any Google search on the topic. I saw some teeth whitening product being sold at a farmer’s market recently! There’s nail salons and kiosks at shopping malls that offer the service as well that are not operating under the supervision and guidance of an a dentist or oral health care professional. What’s the best thing to do? What’s safe? What’s worth the money?
The fact of the matter is, most of those over the counter products do next to nothing. If you’re really interested in getting your teeth whitened, they’re just not strong enough. Rinses and toothpastes get away with claiming they whiten your teeth because they can remove superficial stains. In my experience, patients that want whiter teeth aren’t talking about superficial staining. Anyone that brushes their teeth every day, doesn’t drink tons of coffee and red wine, and gets their teeth cleaned professionally on a regular basis doesn’t have superficial stains. Patient’s that want whiter teeth want to actually change the color of the tooth. They want to remove yellow or gray shades from the tooth and have it appear at least as white as their eyes in photographs, if not whiter.
To whiten teeth, you need two things: peroxide and isolation. By isolation I mean keeping saliva, cheeks, lips, and tongue away from the peroxide on the tooth so it doesn’t neutralize it before it can whiten. If what you’re using to whiten your teeth doesn’t have peroxide in it, it won’t work. If you’ve got peroxide and no isolation, your saliva will render the peroxide useless. If you’ve been unimpressed with your results from whitening strips, this is the reason why: inadequate isolation. If you’ve got no peroxide and no isolation, well, you’re just sitting there, doing absolutely nothing. Very unlikely you’ll end up with white teeth using that method!
You need a special peroxide that’s safe for teeth but strong enough to do the job, and only your dentist has it. There’s different brands and different formulas, but conceptually they are all about the same. When it comes to isolation, there are two methods. One is a custom tray. A custom tray is fabricated by your dentist that adapts perfectly to your teeth. Not only does it deliver the peroxide to your teeth for an extended period of time in isolation from your saliva, but it also protects your gums. The peroxide that is powerful enough to whiten your teeth is powerful enough to damage your gums, and your dentist can help make sure you’re protected from having any complications like this.
Another form of isolation is with a liquid rubber dam a cotton rolls. This is the method of isolation used when you have in-office whitening performed. The dental assistant and doctor take great care to make sure your gums, cheeks and lips are protected before any whitening gel is applied. The method typically produces the best results and has the highest patient satisfaction.
In summary, the three reasons you should go with a professional dental whitening and not purchase over the counter whitening products:
1. Without the proper isolation that your dentist can provide, any whitening gel or strip will be neutralized rapidly as soon as it comes in contact with your saliva. Results will always be inferior.
2. Only your dentist has a high enough concentration of peroxide to effectively whiten teeth. The concentration of peroxide in over the counter products is simply too low to produce Wow! type of results.
3. Strips and toothpastes are too weak to make real changes, while home remedies and nail salons are a crap shoot when it comes to safety. If you want safety and results, contact your dentist!