Tooth whitening information and products -

Tooth Whitening Information
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Teeth Whitening Products
Teeth Whitening Kits
Professional Teeth Whitening
6 Top Rated Whiteners
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About Teeth Whitening - information and comparisons

At-Home Tooth Whitening Products:

These include the popular toothpastes, paint-on whiteners and strips, and the new highly-promoted light-activated products.

They are affordable and easy to use. Most whitening toothpastes contain some form of mild abrasive which helps remove surface stains. Strips and whiteners rely on various amounts of peroxide. (For more information about these and other whitening ingredients, see our page on Tooth Whitening Active Ingredients. )

Benefits: Affordable and convenient.

Drawbacks: Not as effective as professional treatments,
require multiple uses to get the full whitening effect.

Toothpastes - Most whitening toothpastes use a very mild abrasive to remove surface stains on the teeth (similar to scrubbing your sink!). They will not whiten your teeth dramatically (most will whiten only a shade or two), but are useful for keeping them white between other treatments. A few use non-abrasive active ingredients instead, and some also contain substances which help prevent future staining.

Some whitening toothpastes have ingredients which reduce teeth sensitivity. Use these while using any home tooth whitening process that requires daily applications and you may be more comfortable during the process, especially if you are sensitive to peroxide.

Paint-on Whiteners and Strips - Whitening strips are very effective and popular. They rely on various concentrations of peroxide to work. Strips with higher concentrations of peroxide whiten faster but can cause tooth sensitivity in some people. Daily use for 7-21 days is needed to achieve the maximum tooth whitening effect.

Most people achieve satisfactory results from the whitening strips, with a couple exceptions:

  • If your teeth are very crooked, you may have trouble applying the strips to stay in contact with all visible tooth surfaces and have trouble getting them to whiten evenly. However, the strips adapt well to slightly or moderately imperfect bites. Just press gently on the strip with your fingers to make sure it makes good contact with all your teeth.

  • If your smile is very wide (a lot of teeth showing), the strips whiten only your front teeth so some unwhitened teeth may be visible. You will get better results with one of the other methods.

Paint on whiteners are very convenient to bring with you anywhere and use "on the go". The main complaint is that you have to keep your lips away from your teeth while the substance dries. Older paint-ons did not whiten quite as well as whitening strips, but there are now formulas (like the BriteSmile To Go Pen) which work in as little as 30 seconds per application and are highly effective at whitening teeth.

Gel trays - This was the first popular tooth whitening method. A tray, shaped to fit your teeth, is filled with gel and worn over the teeth for a period of time. Gel whiteners tend to be more effective but can also be rather messy. An advantage to this method is that in addition to whitening just your front teeth (like the strips do), it whitens all your teeth.

If you decide this method is for you, we recommend you ask your dentist about a "take home" kit with custom trays. Or try Direct White - they make custom trays in their lab from a kit you buy online. This will produce better results and is much more pleasant to use than standard "one size fits all" trays sold with some products, and will also help keep the gel from coming in contact with your gums, a common cause of temporary tooth sensitivity.

Home Light-Activated Kits - These relatively new home tooth whitening kits feature a blue-wave light and a solution which is at least partially light-activated. Some popular names are Perfectly White, Ionic White and Klear Action.

Do they work? Yes, some better than others (see our product ratings page). Professional light-activated whitening is more effective and convenient - some of the home kits can be a bit messy. In all these kits, some whitening will take place due to the gel used (see our page on tooth whitening ingredients). We question the actual value of the light provided with the lowest priced products (other than looking pretty cool). If you've tried one of these products, please take a second to tell us what you think !

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While in-home tooth whitening procedures and products are for the most part safe and harmless, there are a couple things you should be aware of:

  • Some people, particularly those with gum irritation or disease, may experience temporary discomfort from tooth sensitivity . Both professional and over-the-counter whitening products contain peroxide and can temporarily make your teeth sensitive, especially if they are overused. If you are concerned, talk to your dentist before starting a home teeth whitening program.

    For more information: See our article on tooth sensitivity and tooth whitening.

  • Whiteners work only on natural teeth. If you have tooth-matched dental work (crowns, etc) which are visible when you smile, you should consult with your dentist.

  • If your are pregnant or nursing: While there is no research indicating these products are harmful to your baby, there is also no research indicating they are safe. We recommend you consult with your physician .


Professional Teeth Whitening Treatments:

Benefits: More effective and longer lasting whitening effect. Only require
one treatment. Process is done by a dental professional.

Drawbacks: More expensive than over-the-counter whiteners.

Gel trays - Same as the gel trays mentioned above, but the treatment is done in the dentist's office using trays which are custom-made to fit your teeth.

Laser - This teeth whitening method uses a laser to activate a whitening substance placed on the teeth. This method (which was never formally approved by the ADA) is rapidly being replaced by Power Teeth Whitening.

Power whitening or Light-Activated Whitening - This tooth whitening method uses bright light of a certain wavelength to activate a whitening substance which your dentist applies to your teeth. It takes only 1 hour in your dentist's office and is highly effective, producing better whitening and longer lasting results than other methods currently available. BriteSmile is oneof the most popular tooth whitening treatments of this type.

See our comparison of the two most popular professional whitening treatments - BriteSmile and Zoom.


For More Information :

Sensitive teeth and tooth whitening
Tooth Whitening Active Ingredients
ADA Tooth Whitening Treatments FAQ
The ADHA Tooth Whitening Fact Sheet