How Do Teeth Whiteners Work?
In every supermarket there are numerous teeth whitening toothpastes and kits, each one promising brighter, whiter teeth.
Online, blogs talk about the latest trends, like charcoal activated products which are supposedly all you need to use in the comfort of your own home to get that Hollywood Smile. Then, there’s also Amazon, the great warehouse that stocks everything. Amazon have around 7,000 results for a simple ‘teeth whitening products’ search. Seven thousand products, where to begin!
There have never been more teeth whitening products, there has never been more confusion. The big question is, do any of them work, and can they outperform teeth whitening in our London dental clinic?
The Short Answer on if Teeth Whitening Kits Work
We could review each of the 7,000 products, or at least put them in groups – the toothpastes, the trays with gels, the paint on products that look alarmingly like Tipp-Ex, but we’ll try to save everyone a bit of time.
The short answer is that the shop bought products do not work. Although some might seem to appear to have an effect none come close to having a real, safe and long-lasting impact on the colour of your teeth.
Why Do Off The-Shelf Teeth Whitening Products Fall Short
The main component to consider when investigating whitening products, is the list of ingredients.
The amount of active ingredient is insufficient
The only “active ingredient” in whitening treatments that can change the natural colour of your teeth is hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide (bleaching agents). The amount of active ingredient / bleaching agent that is legally allowed in over the counter dental products in the UK is 0.1% hydrogen peroxide (or 0.3% carbamide peroxide) which is too little to have any noticeable effect.
There is no active ingredient
If a product doesn’t contain hydrogen or carbamide peroxide, it is not going to whiten your teeth. The most that such “whitening” toothpastes or kits may do is remove surface stains, however this is not necessarily a good thing. If what you are applying to your teeth is too abrasive it may wear the enamel of your teeth, giving you a short-term whiter looking smile, but in the long term badly damaging your teeth – you can’t grow back enamel, once it’s gone…it’s gone!
A “whitening” or brightening effect can be achieved by removing surface stains, but we would suggest seeing a professional hygienist to do this in a way that doesn’t damage your oral health.
What about charcoal toothpastes?
Other than the abrasivity of these products as mentioned above, a lot of what may be perceived as a whitening effect when using charcoal toothpaste is just that – perception.
If you are going to put a black substance on your teeth and look at it in the mirror, naturally your teeth will look a lot whiter after you have rinsed it off!
Why are These Teeth Whitening Kits Unsafe?
It is possible to buy whitening treatments online that have higher doses of active ingredients than you can find in shops.
The simple answer is because these products are often unregulated and illegal. The risks associated with this type of product are real, if the concentration is too strong it can cause irreparable damage to your teeth and gums.
A product that uses a tray will not be custom made for your mouth and so the bleaching product stands a very high chance of leaking out. Blistering, sensitivity and pain are likely to ensue.
Opt For Professional Teeth Whitening Treatments
Without seeing a dentist, it is impossible to know whether your teeth are suitable for a certain type of treatment or product. There are many factors to consider such as your overall oral health (if you have gum disease and receding gums, for example, you need to be using a lower strength of bleaching gel). Plus the results you wish to achieve (for example if you have veneers, these won’t whiten along with your natural teeth).
Your treatment will be tailored to you as an individual. Following an initial consultation with one of our dentists, we will discuss all your treatment options for a beautiful smile, be that whitening, hygiene treatments, cosmetic tweaks (such as composite bonding or veneers), orthodontics or a combination of these.
If you opt for our professional teeth whitening we will make a custom fitted mouth tray for you to wear that will fit comfortably and prevent the gel from leaking and being consumed. Dentists can prescribe up to 6% hydrogen peroxide (and 16% carbamide peroxide), a far more effective percentage of active ingredient.
Why consider The Dental Surgery for Teeth Whitening?
We’ll let our patients speak for us there, our most recent feedback from a patient:
“I have now done the rest of my teeth (using the whitening gel in the trays) and I am absolutely delighted with the results. It was incredibly easy to do and extremely effective. Thank you – I love my teeth!”
Do you have a specific question?
Get in touch with us today.