Do Home Teeth Whitening Kits Really Work?

Teeth whitening is one of the most requested services at my practice, beyond regular dental checkups and cleanings, and it’s not surprising. Life can be hard on your teeth, and many of your favorite food and drink choices may conspire against your brightest smile. Coffee, tea, berries, and wine can all contribute to dull down your pearly whites into a dingy yellow.

In the Eagle River Dental office, we use professional-strength whiteners, since we deal with teeth whitening every day. We’re trained to use the high-powered products according to the tight procedures the manufacturers of these products establish for the best – and fastest – results. For safety reasons, home whitening kits can’t compare with dental office products. The risks of over-bleaching and damaging your teeth would be too great if these do-it-yourself kits were the same strength.

But do home whitening products work at all? Let’s look at the principles behind teeth whitening, so you can get an idea of the tooth whitening process and how it may fit into your dental care routine.

Dedicated teeth whitening systems

There are many products on the market that make claims about their ability to whiten teeth. First, let’s look at the home versions of the dentist office whitening process. In both cases, a peroxide-based bleaching agent is the active ingredient. The big difference is in the strength. At-home kits typically fall in the range of 3 to 20% peroxide, while professional systems generally run about 15 to 43% peroxide.

Why the difference? While peroxide is a great bleaching agent, too much of a good thing isn’t such a good thing. The higher concentrations of peroxide do the job faster, but over-bleaching can cause damage to your teeth and increase their sensitivity. High-strength peroxides have much shorter time tolerances before the effects of over-bleaching occur.

Home whitening kits use gentler formulations for longer times. These formulations may lose their activity before over-bleaching can occur, so you’re at less risk if you forget about your whitening as you binge-watch your favorite television series.

Do home whitening kits improve your smile? Yes, they do, but not as dramatically as the products we use at Eagle River Dental. Talk to me about how to achieve the best results using our custom made whitening trays.

Teeth whitening strips

Applying the same peroxides to your teeth using whitening strips instead of a custom dental tray for your teeth is a risky proposition. One problem is even application. If a strip isn’t contacting all visible surfaces of your teeth, you could end up with yellow spots where the contact between peroxide and tooth fails. Also, you could experience gum damage from the chemicals on the strips. These should contact tooth surfaces only.

Teeth whitening toothpastes

Stepping away from peroxide-based teeth whitening, toothpastes offer a different approach to a brighter smile. In fact, toothpastes may use three different methods to approach whitening. Without the bleaching action of peroxides, toothpastes typically resort to abrasives to gently polish your teeth, or non-peroxide chemicals to dissolve stains. Toothpastes can’t, however, lighten your teeth beyond their natural color, nor can they address stains that penetrate the surface of your teeth, two features that peroxide systems provide.

The third method toothpastes use is a chemical called blue covarine. It counters the typical yellow of most tooth staining, and temporarily makes your teeth appear less stained. While the effects are immediate, unlike other whitening toothpastes, it’s a switch-and-bait that doesn’t last very long.

Talk to your dentist

If you’re serious about pursuing whiter teeth, call my office or request an appointment online. Together we can put together a whitening plan that includes a care strategy that’s right for you and safe for your teeth. Currently for the month of December, we are offering a $99 whitening package. That is a 50% savings off our regular price. This includes dental impressions, custom fitted trays, a stylish case and two whitening syringes.

Call today to schedule an appointment (907) 694-8610

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