Tooth Whitening – What works, what doesn’t, and why

| September 10, 2008

Over-the-counter whiteners have been flooding the market for many years.  Each with it’s own gimmick, or gadget, or promise of sparkling white teeth in just minutes…..

How does tooth whitening work?

Teeth have been shown to whiten when exposed to a peroxide like solution.  How much teeth whiten depends on three things:

  1. The concentration of the peroxide in the whitening solution
  2. The time the whitening solution stays on the teeth
  3. The color of the teeth before the whitening started

Concentration vs. Time

That is all teeth whitening is about. How much peroxide is in the whitening gel and how long does it stay in contact with your teeth.

The concentration of the whitening gel is very important and varies with the technique and brand used.

The meager concentration of peroxide in the “whitening” toothpaste, gum, or mouth rinse is mimimal.  The concentation is not strong enough and it doesn’t stay in contact with the teeth long enough to have any effect on the whitening of your teeth.  But if you like the taste, etc… by all means keep on using it.  Just don’t expect it to deliver a dazzling white smile.

What about whitening strips?

Whitening strips have come a long way since the beginning and they can work for some people.  But they aren’t cheap and it takes awhile.  In addition the whitening strips are only long enough to cover the front six teeth.   And…  Crest won’t be giving you your money back if you aren’t happy.

The whitening strip that you wear on your bottom teeth doesn’t usually stay on long enough to allow the whitening solution to work.  The bottom strip won’t stay on because the tongue keeps dislodging it.

The way dentists whiten teeth is the best way… because it works

Whitening your teeth using the products sold by a dentist is the most predictible way to whitening your teeth.  And your dentist wants to make sure you are happy so they are going to give the real deal on how well it will work on your teeth and what to expect.

Custom-fitted trays are specially made to hold the whitening gel evenly against the teeth.  A custom fit tray is best because it is also comfortable and can be worn for extended periods of time.    In addition the concentration of the peroxide solution a dentist gives you is greater than the over the counter products.

Our patients typically see a 5-8 shade difference in 10 – 14 days by wearing their custom-fitted trays for 30 minutes to an hour per day.

What about Zoom! In Office Whitening?

Zoom! Whitening is ideal for anyone looking for immediate results.  The convenience of Zoom! in comparison to days of wearing trays or strips, makes it the perfect choice for the busy individual.  At our office, custom-fitted trays are also included for any additional whitening touch-ups you desire in the future.

Zoom! is also a great option if you don’t think you will “stick with” using the custom trays for 10 -14 days.

See our other teeth whitening blog posts,