Dental Bleaching – DIY or direct from your dental provider?

No matter where you turn these days you will be able to find a do-it-yourself project.  The same is happening in dentistry with the DIY over the counter whitening products available.  As fun as DIY can be, there are many draw backs.  For starters, the end result very rarely turns out the way you planned for it to and let’s be honest, it takes WAY too many steps to get there, and often ends up being more expensive than what you were originally told.

Dental whitening is no different.  Do the over-the-counter products work?  Sure they do, but not on every type of stain or tooth anatomy.  Always read the fine print, “results may vary”.  Keep in mind when using these products that they are generically designed and most likely will not reach the areas between your teeth which can leave you with dark areas still showing.

How does whitening work?

Whitening gels, both over the counter and those purchased directly from your dental office, are made of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.  The peroxide compounds break down (oxidize) the pigmented compounds (stains) that have become entrapped in a tooth’s enamel layer. Because the byproducts that result from this reaction are colorless, the tooth receives a lightening effect.

Which peroxide is better to use?

Both peroxides will eventually provide a similar result; it is the strength that will determine the length of time that this will take.  Typically, a whitening system purchased from your dentist would contain 10% hydrogen peroxide or 10-16% carbamide peroxide.  Interesting enough, over the counter bleaching systems don’t even list the percentage of hydrogen peroxide used in their products, this makes me nervous…

Hydrogen peroxide’s active ingredient declines quicker due to a faster oxidization rate.  Carbamide peroxide has a slower more sustained release of its active ingredient.  What this tells us is that hydrogen peroxide would need to be used in shorter intervals over a longer period of time in order to achieve the desired whitening effects as opposed to using carbamide peroxide.

I don’t want to wear trays every night; I just want white teeth…

This is commonly discussed in a dental office; many people don’t want to go through the “hassle” of placing gel in customized trays every night and having to sleep with them in for a minimum of 2-3 weeks just to have that desired white smile.  This is why many dental offices offer in office bleaching.  Although there are many different systems available, typically the dental provider will use a strong whitening gel applied directly to the teeth and allow it to sit for a period of time to oxidize.  These in-office systems are a good bet if your teeth have a lot of stain or are very dark. Some systems use a bright light to “activate” the gel; the in-office treatment we use in our office is strong enough to not require the bright light to do its job.

Where to go from here?

Set up a consultation with your dental provider, once they have evaluated your teeth and gum tissues, they can help guide you in the right direction to a brighter, whiter smile.

For additional information, please visit the KOR Whitening website; this is the prodict line we offer in our office.

By: Jessica Sech RDH