Do teeth whitening kits work?

Do you wish that you had whiter teeth?

Many people associate sparkling, pearly whites with overall health, wellness and beauty. Yet, this can be an ideal that feels a little unattainable for most. Certain foods and drinks tend to stain your teeth over time, as does the natural process of aging.

The good news? There are many different types of teeth whitening treatments designed to give you that megawatt smile you’ve always wanted. While professional treatments in your dentist’s office are always best, some at-home kits can work in the interim.

Today, we’re exploring all the options to help you make an informed decision. Which one wins in terms of effectiveness, cost, and longevity?

How does teeth whitening work?

Before we dive into the differences between DIY and professional treatments, let’s explore the basics. How does teeth whitening work? First, let’s cover a little tooth anatomy.

Your teeth are composed of an inner dentin layer, as well as a hard, outer layer, called enamel. Your enamel is primarily translucent, so although it’s located on the inside, your dentin layer determines most of your tooth’s appearance.

This simple fact alone explains why most whitening toothpastes are only minimally effective. While they might be able to remove surface-level stains from foods you just ate, they can’t reach your dentin layer. This is where a more in-depth whitening treatment can help.

Most teeth whitening products use one of two active ingredients: hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.

When applied to your teeth, these ingredients sink into your porous enamel. This way, they’re able to penetrate the dentin layer, break down any stains that might be present, and slightly alter its color.

How do at-home teeth whitening treatments work?

If you’re looking to save money and aren’t overly concerned about how many shades you whiten your teeth, you might be able to find some at-home kits that can be adequate.

Today, most of these kits include one of four products:

  • Dental trays.
  • Teeth-whitening strips.
  • Paint-on teeth whiteners.
  • Whitening toothpaste or mouthwash.

Let’s explore each of these in greater detail.

Dental Trays

With store-bought dental trays, you’ll squeeze the whitening gel into the standard trays and place them in your mouth for a set number of minutes. The peroxide in the gel will break down over time, creating hydroxyl radicals that can help whiten stained teeth.

Teeth-whitening Strips

Teeth-whitening strips are made of flexible plastic. Each strip contains a thin film of hydrogen peroxide on one side. Your kit will contain a set of strips for your top teeth, as well as a set for your bottom teeth.

To use these strips, you simply peel off the backing and apply them directly to your teeth. Unlike trays, these only cover a portion of your teeth (the ones in the front and immediate sides). You’ll usually wear them for 30 minutes per day, twice a day for a set number of days.

Paint-on Teeth Whiteners

While paint-on teeth whiteners might sound convenient, their effectiveness isn’t guaranteed. You use the small bottles of whitening gel to literally paint onto the enamel of your teeth using a small paintbrush.

The gel will then harden into a film that will coat your teeth, eventually dissolving in your mouth.

Whitening Toothpaste or Mouthwash

The most economical teeth whitening treatment is to simply use a toothpaste or mouthwash that advertises whitening power. Most of these products rely on mild abrasives to remove surface stains, giving your teeth a whiter appearance.

While you might notice a small difference, keep in mind that these products do not actually change the dentin layer of your tooth. At best, they will lighten your teeth a shade or two.

The Benefit of a Professional Treatment

While you might notice a difference after using these off-the-shelf products, there are risks associated with an at-home approach. Without custom-fitted whitening trays, for example, there’s a good chance that a sizable amount of the whitening solution will not make it onto your teeth.

In addition to wasting this product, you could also inadvertently apply the whitening solution to a damaged or sensitive area of your mouth, causing pain and sensitivity.

In-Office Whitening Procedures

Want to truly transform your smile from the inside out? If so, an at-home kit might not be fully capable of delivering the effects you desire. In this case, it’s best to visit your dentist for an in-office whitening procedure.

During your visit, your dentist will apply a special whitening gel to the surface of your teeth. The entire visit will take around 90 minutes and will deliver immediate results. In fact, you’ll leave wondering why it took you so long to book the appointment!

Professional At-Home Teeth Whitening

Want the perks of a professional whitening treatment with all of the comforts of home? If so, your dentist can set you up with a professional, at-home solution that can help you mimic the effects of an in-person visit.

This approach is similar to the whitening trays you’ll find at the store, but with one major difference. The trays will be custom-fitted and the whitening gel is extra-powerful, available only through your dentist.

Why should you spend the time and money to be fitted for custom mouth trays when you can just buy standard ones?

The answer lies in how snugly your tailor-made trays will fit. A custom tray will ensure that the whitening solution stays in contact with your tooth throughout the treatment. They’re also designed to limit how much of the solution comes into contact with your sensitive gum line.

Though they will be more expensive than standard, off-the-shelf teeth whitening kits, professional at-home treatments are more effective in the long run. Most kits will take between 10 to 14 days to complete, though you may begin to notice results in as little as three days!

Learn more about our teeth whitening services.

When you’re ready to take control of your smile, we’re here to help.

In addition to the preventative, restorative, and cosmetic dental services we provide, we’re also proud to offer teeth whitening services to help you look and feel your best. Our professional approach is more effective and longer-lasting than the DIY kits you can buy in the store.

To learn more about this procedure or to book an appointment, reach out to our team today!