Woman Showing Off Her White Teeth

Those who are considering teeth whitening may have no idea where to start. After all, there are multiple methods to choose from, and everyone from advertisers to your coworkers seem to know the "best" way to whiten teeth.



Teeth whitening solutions are available over-the-counter from your local drugstore or right in your dentist’s office, with numerous products and procedures to choose from. Teeth whitening solutions are best for people who have healthy teeth and gums. Those who have yellowed teeth typically see the most results, but cosmetic teeth whitening is not for everyone. Please consult your dentist before beginning any of these procedures.

 

In Office Procedures

In-office teeth whitening procedures may be the fastest way to whiten teeth, but they are also the most expensive and inconvenient, since many procedures require several visits to the dentist's office. In in-office procedures, whitening solution or gel is directly applied to the teeth, and is then activated with a special light, laser, or heat. Results are usually seen after one treatment, lasting anywhere from half an hour to an hour. For maximum results, usually more than one treatment is needed, and this can get expensive fairly quickly. Luckily, results are visible after only one treatment.


Whitening Toothpaste

Every toothpaste is designed to eradicate surface stains, since they all contain slight abrasives. A number of whitening toothpastes contain polishing agents to give the appearance of that classic Hollywood smile. Others also contain additional chemical compounds to help lift stains that have embedded themselves in the lower layers of the teeth. Primarily, whitening toothpastes remove surface stains and don’t include bleach. Both over the counter and dentist-recommended professional whiteners instead contain carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide, which is what lightens the color and helps remove stains. Whitening toothpaste will usually only whiten teeth by about one shade, while light activated whitening procedures performed by dentists can whiten teeth by anywhere from three to eight shades.

Whitening Gels and Strips

Found over the counter, gels for teeth whitening are peroxide-based and are usually applied directly to your teeth using a small applicator brush. The gels are usually clear but can also be white depending on the formula. Gels and strips usually have to be applied twice a day, for about to weeks. Some results can be seen after a couple days, and final results typically last around four months.

Whitening strips can also found over the counter, and are thin and all but invisible.  The strips are coated with a gel that has to be applied daily for half an hour for two weeks. Much like the whitening gel, there may be some results visible after a few days, and final results last for around four months.

Whitening Rinses

One of the newer solutions available are whitening rinses. Like mouthwashes, whitening rinses can help reduce dental plaque and some gum diseases and also freshen breath. The inclusion of hydrogen peroxide is the ingredient meant to whiten teeth. Manufacturers warn that if may take 3 months to see results, but it isn’t stated if this is for initial results or final results. Typically, you are meant to swish the solution for 1 minute twice daily prior to brushing your teeth. There is some debate over the effectiveness, mainly due to the short amount of time that the rinse is in contact with the teeth. Compared with other over the counter products, there may be less of an effect; especially since there are no mentions of how many shades the rinse can whiten your teeth.

Tray-Based Whitening Systems 

Tray based products can either be purchased over the counter or directly from your dentists with various degrees of strength. This method involves filling a guard-like tray with a whitening gel or solution and then keeping the tray in your mouth for an extended period, usually a few hours daily or sometimes overnight. Some trays recommend using the product for up to a month and even longer. The use of trays can also be extended or lessened, depending on the individuals needs. Trays usually contain a peroxide bleaching agent, and can cause discomfort.

Picking the Best Solution For You

As you have seen, there are many options when it comes to whitening teeth. However, the most convenient and price-effect method of teeth whitening is to use a home whitening kit. Not sure where to start? Take a look at our teeth whitening product review and comparisons to see which teeth whitening products are the best to use at home.