In a world filled with many different likes, enjoyments, wants and desires, a preference that just about everyone shares in common with each other is white teeth. Flashing a gleaming smile is an easy way to brighten a person's day, and by complementing your regular brushing and flossing with a whitening treatment, teeth can become several shades whiter than they are now.
As you may have seen on social media and around the internet, there are a wide variety of teeth whitening solutions available. However, some of these treatments may be counterproductive by stripping away the enamel that lines your teeth.
If you're thinking about whitening your teeth and are wondering which one is the best to select, here are a few to avoid, along with an explanation as to why they're best left alone:
1. Do-it-yourself bleaching products and gels
The key ingredient to teeth whitening is hydrogen peroxide, which is a type of bleach. When used in the proper doses, hydrogen peroxide for oral care works by gently scrubbing away the staining that is caused by age — which increases the visibility of dentin that lies underneath the enamel — food, beverages and the resulting tartar buildup. Another common agent that's used is carbamide peroxide.
However, hydrogen peroxide is no ordinary chemical. In other words, if a teeth whitening product contains too much of it, it can wind up damaging tooth enamel by stripping it away. And once enamel is gone, it's gone for good; it's not something that grows back. As a result, your teeth may become more susceptible to cavity formation and also heighten tooth sensitivity, brought on by hot and cold temperatures from food and drink. Even some toothpastes can cause discomfort.
How much bleach is considered safe? Several health organisations — including the European Commission on Health & Consumer Protection — say tooth whitening products should be composed of between 0.1% and 6% hydrogen peroxide. Anything more than that and you may be risking the long-term health of your teeth.
The problem is quite a few teeth whitening kits include ultra-high levels of this chemical. Indeed, as BBC News reported last year, this was the case for more than half of the products — 20 of the 36 — that the news organisation tested.
2. At-home laser teeth whitening
This is a teeth whitening solution that is fairly recent relative to other methods, like whitening strips or trays. As its name suggests, laser teeth whitening involves an intensely bright light — usually LED — that saturates the teeth for a specific period of time, usually no more than a few minutes. Some of these LED light-activated teeth whitening kits also contain trays with accompanying gel; the LED light boosts the effectiveness of the gel by activating its cleaning capabilities.
The problem with these therapies is they're being used outside of a dentist's supervision. Thus, someone may use the technology more often than they should if they're not pleased with the results. This is one of the reasons why it's always important to use any whitening products only as directed. But it can be easy to misunderstand what's recommended, especially when multiple manufacturers have different interpretations of what's considered safe.
3. Generic whitening strips
These are probably the most widely available teeth whitening solutions, found in grocery stores, online and big box retailers. For the most part, generic whitening strips are the safest of all the at-home options. At the same time, though, they're also the least effective. For one thing, the strips themselves may not properly adhere to your teeth. Secondly, the amount of the bleaching agent used — hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide — may not be in the proper dose for your needs.
What's the best teeth whitening solution?
The best way to get your teeth as white as you want them without compromising their health is by going through your dentist. Your oral care professional has the education, experience and capability to know exactly what amounts of bleach to apply to your teeth without it compromising your short- or long-term health.
City Dentists is one such dental center that specialises in highly effective — and safe — teeth whitening. We combine at-home and in-office whitening care by creating patients' custom-made trays that are the exact replica of their teeth. Upon injecting the gel into the tray to apply to the teeth, the snug fit ensures the gel will work more efficiently.
Not only does our teeth whitening system work, it works for longer. You can expect your teeth to stay brighter for longer than if you were to go about teeth whitening through an over-the-counter method.