We are never completely dressed without a smile, which is why many of us invest so much into giving off the perfect one. Teeth whitening is one of these aspects; in fact, the 2017 Teeth Whitening Statistics compiled by the Statistic Brain Research Institute found that in the US alone, almost one and a half billion dollars are spent on teeth whitening products, every year.
According to experts, teeth are not naturally white for many people, and there are plenty of reasons that can further yellow teeth. The first of these is aging. As we age, our teeth naturally shed off its whiteness. In addition, there are plenty of activities that can discolor teeth, primary of which is smoking. Tar, nicotine, and other chemicals found in cigarettes stain the tooth’s enamel, which can lead to discoloration; in fact, a 2005 study found that about 28 percent of smokers had stained teeth.
Another reason is poor oral hygiene. Something as simple as not brushing regularly can lead to plaque buildup, which can do a number on the color of our teeth. There are also certain foods and drinks that can also cause discoloration: these include red wine, berries, coffee, and tea. Similarly, certain medical conditions can be the culprit, as can specific medications. And finally, genetics may also play its part.
Now, many of us know that a whiter smile has nothing to do with dental health, but many of us believe that a healthy smile can always be made better if we have white teeth. If you’re aiming for one, as well, here are ten of the best products that you can try to make that happen.
The Crest 3D White Glamorous White Whitestrips contains 14 treatments in one kit and promises to effectively remove up to ten year’s worth of stains from coffee, wine, and cigarettes. Each treatment comes with a strip each for the upper and layer teeth. The strips are also bonded with a non-slip function, so you can still go about your usual day while having your teeth whitened. It contains more hydrogen peroxide, for optimal whitening.
- Carries the American Dental Association seal, which means that it has been proven safe for use
- Features a non-slip function, so that strips can be effectively bonded to the teeth to boost the quality of results
- Contains more peroxide than other counterparts
- As it contains plenty of peroxides, the product may not be ideal for people who experience tooth sensitivity
- Some users have reported seeing white blotches on their teeth after use, which take hours to fade
Another one from Crest, the Luxe Whitestrips Professional Effects kit boasts of delivering results that can last for more than a year after the final treatment is done. Even better, it can work on stains that are over 10 years old. And like its Glamorous sister, its strips come with no-slip, so you can do anything that you want to do while you have them on. Another good thing about this product is that it will not strip away the enamel of the tooth.
- Delivers immediate results within a few days
- Offers a no-mess whitening experience because of its no-slip strips
- Comes with a rather challenging learning curve for first-time users
- Maybe a bit more expensive than its sister products
- May not be as effective for those with non-straight teeth
This teeth-whitening product from Go Smile is different from the other products on this list as it is a gel that can be painted onto the teeth. In fact, it is one of the products that offer the best ease-of-use, as it only requires five minutes to be applied. It also features 14 treatments, which can be used twice a day. And it can leave teeth whiter by up to three shades, in about a week.
- Contains less than the ADA-recommended amount of peroxide, according to its manufacturers
- Accords optimal ease and convenience to users
- Delivers results in a week
- The method of application of the product limits its contact time with the teeth, as well as opens it to multiple sources of dilution that may lower its effectiveness
- Not as portable as other products
Yet another product from Crest, this one is specially formulated to minimize the risk of tooth sensitivity, which makes it ideal for so many people out there. Like the one from Go Smile, this one also takes only five minutes to apply, and people who have tried it have reported not experiencing sensitivity throughout one month. This is because it contains only about 3 to 7 percent of hydrogen peroxide.
- Delivers effective results without requiring much time commitment
- Ideal for people with sensitive teeth, or people who do not want to experience sensitivity after teeth bleaching or whitening
- Takes about 28 days for results to show
- Comes with rectangular strips, which may not work as easily for some people as typical-shaped strips do
This express kit from Lovely Smile offers teeth that can go up to ten shades whiter in only an hour. Containing six percent of peroxide, its strips contain a no-slip technology that binds efficiently to the teeth for maximum quality of results. Users have also reported that unlike other products, this one does not leave an unpleasant aftertaste after use.
- Delivers effective results in only an hour
- Features a no-slip technology for optimal product bonding to teeth
- Some users have reported that getting the strips off can be challenging, and they are prone to breaking off
- May cause enhanced sensitivity
Containing 15% hydrogen peroxide, the Opalescence Go kit comes with a gel and tray for optimal results. The gel is available pre-filled, which is ideal for those who want no-mess applications; aside from the bleaching agent, the kit also has fluoride and potassium nitrate to enhance the tooth enamel’s strength and boost health. And results show in as little as five days and may last up to a year or longer.
- Delivers fast results that may last up to a year
- Offers no-mess applications and ease-of-use
- The kit may not be as easy to use for people who don’t have straight teeth
- May cause gum irritation if the strips touch the gums
Promising to remove a decade’s worth of stains, the Brilliant HD Deluxe Teeth Whitening Kit from Nu2 Nutrients comes with heat-molded trays to fit your mouth and a carbamide peroxide gel. It purports to provide the same whitening experience that you can expect from the dentist, as it has been formulated in a certified facility by dental professionals. It also delivers results in as fast as 15 minutes.
- Delivers results in 15 minutes
- Comes with enough products that are good for 15 treatments
- Some users have said that it may cause staining
- May cause gum irritation if it touches the gums
Another gel-and-tray kit, this one from Rembrandt promises results in two hours. It contains one treatment per kit, which you will use and space within two hours. The first thing that you do is shape the tray according to the shape of your mouth, and then you apply the gel. Keep it on for 20 minutes, and then take it out, rinse it, and re-apply it after 10 minutes.
- Delivers results in two hours
- Comes with trays that you can fit your specific teeth
- May cause gum sensitivity after the treatment
- May cause saliva build-up during treatments
A whitening toothpaste, the Supersmile Teeth Whitening System is touted to be the healthiest product on the market that whitens teeth, remineralizes tooth enamel, and maintains the health of your gums. It is clinically proven to whiten teeth by up to 6 shades, without containing any bleaching agents.
- Delivers effective results while also boosting oral health
- Also ideal for people with sensitive teeth
- Some users say it is a bit pricey for its size
This other whitening toothpaste from Jason Natural deserves a spot on our list because it contains an all-natural blend of exclusive polishers that can brighten smiles, while also ensuring proper health for the teeth. Among its ingredients are grapefruit and perilla seed extracts that help protect the teeth from bacterial growth from sugar acids.
- A natural product that does not contain abrasives or harsh chemicals
- Also treats canker sores
- Some users say the product has too much viscosity
Who Needs Teeth Whitening Products
Teeth whitening products are ideal for anybody who wants to have shinier pearly whites and are sporting mild to moderate discoloration. These are especially suited to people whose yellow teeth are caused by certain stain-forming habits, such as smoking or drinking coffee.
What Are The Benefits Of Teeth Whitening Products
There are many advantages to reap from using teeth whitening products, foremost of which are fast results. Supervised whitening using in-office products can promise teeth that are whiter by as much as eight shades in as fast as an hour, while at-home kits can bring about positive outcomes in a couple of weeks. Granted, some kits will require consistent applications, but you are guaranteed to see results.
Speaking of kits at home, some teeth whitening products also accord you with the convenience that you need to take control of the matter, in the comfort of your own home. Even better, you can do your teeth whitening at your own time, so you do not have to worry about micromanaging your schedule so that you don’t miss a session.
In addition, teeth whitening products are safe. Various studies have confirmed this, and different agencies have backed the use of these products. The American Dental Academy, for one, has said that there are no long-term health risks from using whitening agents that contain a carbamide peroxide concentration of 10 percent or less, or a hydrogen peroxide concentration of 3.5 percent or less. The European Scientific Committee on Consumer Products also said that at-home products used for whitening that feature up to 6 percent of hydrogen peroxide are safe to use.
Similarly, the products offer non-invasive alternatives to getting brighter smiles. They are ideal for people who typically feel anxious about undergoing dental procedures or do not have the budget and the time to dedicate to lengthier and more expensive procedures such as crowns and veneers.
Lastly, the products work. You are assured of looking forward to a boost in confidence, every time you flash that smile.
What Are Teeth Whitening Products
Teeth whitening products cover anything that can eliminate food or debris from our teeth, and they are used interchangeably with teeth bleaching products, but there is an actual difference. The US Food and Drug Administration says that bleaching products, as their name denotes, contain bleach: the most common forms of these are hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide. The bleach penetrates the dental enamel and breaks apart the chemical bonds that form stains, and it is what is responsible for turning teeth whiter. Hydrogen peroxide is the actual agent, while carbamide peroxide breaks down into hydrogen peroxide. As thus, all bleaching products are whitening products, but not all whitening products can bleach the teeth.
Over-the-counter whitening products typically contain less potency than those that you can find at your dentist’s. The former only has about 7% of peroxide, while the latter can contain up to 45% more bleach. Other ingredients include sodium hydroxide, carbopol, glycerin, and flavorings.
The cost of these products varies according to the specific type that is chosen, the duration of the treatment, and other factors. The type of whitening you go for is among the most significant of these: OTC teeth whitening products are the most affordable, ranging from $5 to $50; at-home kits are between $200 to $400; and in-office whitening under the supervision of a dentist can cost anywhere from $300 to $1000.
The frequency of use also depends on the type of whitening that you choose. There are some OTC and at-home kits, for instance, that should only be used once a week. Professional whitening, on the other hand, can take only up to an hour inside a dentist’s office but may come with follow-up treatment that you can do at home.
What Safety Issues Should You Be Aware Of For Using Teeth Whitening Products
There are plenty of studies that back the safety of teeth whitening products, especially whitening gels that only contain 10 percent carbamide peroxide and are neutral pH. However, there are still some precautions to be aware of, if you are interested in using them.
First of these are temporary side effects. Tooth sensitivity is among the most common side effects, with about two-thirds of patients reporting mild to moderate tooth sensitivity after using teeth whitening products. It is particularly prevalent among those who are already suffering from dental sensitivity, or those who experience sensitivity after drinking cold beverages, using fluoride treatments, brushing, flossing, or hygienic cleaning. This will usually dissipate after a couple of days, but if you want to manage it, you can use cleaning products and toothpaste. If sensitivity exacerbates after using teeth whitening, contact your dentist.
Gum irritation is another side effect that can happen following whitening. It does not always happen, but when it happens, it is mostly due to ill-fitting bleaching trays, overused whitening agents, or a failure of the protective barrier of the teeth during in-office treatments. To reduce potential gum irritation, make sure that your chosen whitening product is kept out of your gum tissues.
Some whitening products may also wear away the tooth enamel surface and cause depressions, erosions, or demineralization. To avoid this, make sure to pace your use of the whitening or bleaching agent. Use them according to the prescribed frequency and amount, and do not overdo it.
Finally, some studies have indicated that there may be carcinogenic effects from the free-radical release of hydrogen peroxide. Findings are yet inconclusive, but caution must be taken when undergoing treatments. For best results, it is always best to seek the guidance of a dental professional.
A Brief History Of Teeth Whitening Products
Do you think that the desire to have whiter teeth is a recent one? Think again. History is rife with multiple milestones that proved that whiter teeth are an attainment that can be traced as far back to 3000 B.C when people used chew sticks that scraped particles off their teeth instead of brushing. Ancient Egyptians, who regarded white teeth as a symbol of beauty and royalty, also used ground pumice stone mixed in wine vinegar to brighten up their pearly whites. And the ancient Romans used the ammonia in urine, yes, urine, as a bleaching agent.
In the 17th century, people depended on their barbers to take care of their teeth. To whiten teeth, barbers used an acid, and while it was effective, it eventually caused tooth decay. Two centuries later, the effects of fluoride were discovered. But same as the acid used for bleaching centuries earlier, the 19th century brought with it the realization that too much fluoride can lead to more stains.
It was only in 1989 when Dr. Van B Haywood found a way to produce effective teeth whitening by mixing carbamide peroxide with a gel that he then applied to test patients for 10-14 days. And to this day, the same method is used throughout the world, with minor changes. Instead of only one bleaching agent, as was the custom in the past, we now have two: carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide. Other materials were also added, depending on the type of whitening product and its method of application.
Types Of Teeth Whitening Products
There are many types of teeth whitening products that you can find, and they come in three main categories: those that you can buy over-the-counter and use at home, those that you can use at home with your dentist’s instructions, and those that are applied under the supervision of a dentist. The products themselves are the same, in most cases, and the main difference is they are either done by a dental professional, or in the comfort of one’s home. Naturally, over-the-counter kits that you can use at home are less expensive than their in-office counterparts, but the drawback is that seeing results may not happen as quickly for OTC products as it can if your dentist supervised your use and application of these products. Now, let’s go over these products.
- Whitening Toothpaste
An OTC product, whitening toothpaste are non-bleaching products. Typically, they contain gentle abrasives that remove stains from teeth, such as aluminum oxide, baking soda, calcium carbonate, and silica. At best, they can whiten teeth by one shade. If you would like to give them a try, remember to keep your use to once a week; anything more may be too abrasive for your teeth or cause gum recession.
- Whitening Rinses
Whitening rinses contain small amounts of peroxide, which means that they are bleaching products. Among the newest teeth whitening products on the market, they are used much like you would use a regular mouthwash: you swish them around your mouth before brushing, twice a day. As such, they are also ideal for keeping your fresh smelling breath, as well as protecting your teeth from dental plaque. However, you may need to wait for at least 12 weeks to see actual results. Also, they are not considered as effective as other bleaching products since the bleaching agent present in these products is in contact with the teeth for only about a minute.
- Whitening Strips
Among the most popular forms of teeth whitening out there, whitening strips are pre-packaged strips made from polyethylene and coated with carbamide peroxide. To use, they are placed on the top and bottom of the teeth for at least half an hour, so that the active bleaching ingredient can seep onto the surface of the teeth. They also offer great convenience, as they are easily available from many drugstores and can be worn while you go about your day. Results from these products can last for up to four months.
With that said, whitening strips also come with risks. The first of these is tooth sensitivity, especially if you have cavities. Gum irritation may also occur when the bleach from the strips gets in contact with your gums. If the bleach gets in contact with other live tissues in your mouth, more adverse reactions can take place; one of the most significant of these is the formation of free radicals that are associated with premature aging. And as they are pre-packaged, they may not fit the teeth of some people, which can detract from the effects that they can provide.
- Whitening Trays
There are three types of whitening trays you can find: pre-made trays, take-home trays from your dentist, and custom-fitted trays. Of these, the most effective are the last two. These trays are made from flexible plastics and fitted for your teeth, and they contain more bleach than whitening strips. The custom fit ensures that the whitening gel stays intact while you are wearing them, and the bleaching agent is either pre-loaded onto the tray or applied by the dentist according to the ideal concentration.
Whitening trays can be reused, which means that you have a go-to product that you can rely on if you want to brighten up that smile anytime. However, they should be used with care. If the bleaching agent is too strong, or if you leave the trays on too long, the peroxide can seep into the teeth and damage the pulp. This can cause tooth pain, tooth sensitivity, or tooth death.
- Professional In-Office Whitening
Of all the teeth whitening options, this offers the most number of benefits, chief of which is the assurance that you have a dental professional managing the process for you. Even so, it is more expensive, which does not make it as readily available as an option to others. In addition, some procedures require the use of light systems, which have not been found to be more effective than other whitening methods and also come with risks.
Product Use Limitations
There are certain people who may not be good candidates for teeth whitening, whether it is done in-office or with the use of over-the-counter products. They include people who have:
Fabrications or restorations on their front-facing teeth. Examples of these include veneers, crowns, and dental bonding. Teeth that contain restorative materials will not respond as positively to whitening or bleaching as natural teeth; in many cases, these restorations will also need to be replaced to achieve a consistent result for the entire teeth.
Intrinsic stains. Intrinsic stains refer to discolorations on the teeth, such as white spots, grey stains, or those that result from “dead” tooth. Unlike extrinsic stains, or stains that exist only on the outer enamel of the tooth, intrinsic stains penetrate deep into the underlying layers, and whitening or bleaching may not be effective at treating them.
Teeth whitening or bleaching may also not be ideal for people who have already sensitive teeth, as well as those who have acid erosion on their teeth or other issues that lead to worn enamel. Bleaching products can only exacerbate these pre-existing conditions. Similarly, those with bruxism or temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) may not benefit from using whitening trays; for these people, an in-office procedure may be better. Finally, people who are under 18 or pregnant should also steer clear of teeth whitening.
How To Manage the Use of Teeth Whitening Products
To manage the use of teeth whitening products, the first thing that anybody should do is consult a dental professional. There is no better way to minimize the risks of side effects than having the close supervision of a dentist to ensure your safety, as well as boost the quality of results that you will get. In addition, remember these tips:
Vet the health of your teeth before starting whitening or bleaching. If you have dental issues such as exposed roots, gum recession or gum disease, and cavities, using either OTC products or in-office whitening will not help you. As a matter of fact, undertaking any procedure may exacerbate the issues and lead to discomfort and pain. Make sure that you start with healthy teeth to make the most out of the products.
Make sure to get teeth whitening or bleaching done right. If you’re considering in-office whitening, your dentist can take care of all the little things that should be minded during a whitening or bleaching. If you’re opting to do either by yourself, be extra careful with handling the products and ensuring that you follow the right practices. For instance, whitening trays should fit your teeth to get the best results, and whitening gel must be kept away from soft tissues in the mouth to reduce the risk of irritation, nausea, and vomiting.
Prepare for tooth sensitivity. If you have sensitive teeth, you would do well to steer clear of teeth whitening or bleaching. This is because even if you don’t have sensitive teeth, there will be some tooth sensitivity after the procedure. Prepare for this by consulting a dentist or having painkillers on the ready.
Do not overdo it. Finally, don’t get tempted to persistently use teeth whitening products, as too much use can lead to significant damage. Too much whitening gel, for instance, can permanently cause damage; at the same time, too much whitening can make your teeth look discolored or transparent, which may eventually merit a tooth replacement.
Having a whiter smile is an attainment that every one of us should be able to have, especially if it is going to help our self-esteem and confidence. The fact that there are plenty of products to choose from, some of which can be done right in the comfort of our homes, makes it possible for many of us to transform the dream into reality.
However, that should not be taken to mean that we can have our way with teeth whitening products, as there are several considerations that we need to take into account while using them. The first of these is the need for dental supervision. There is nothing wrong with purchasing OTC products that we have selected by ourselves, especially if they are made by trusted brands, but it is always safer to use products when we know that they come with the expressed approval of a dentist.
In addition, teeth whitening products come with certain side effects. Make sure that your teeth are healthy before undertaking any procedure and prepare for the resulting side effects by arming yourself with proper information.
Finally, remember that the results will not be permanent. The results may be immediate, which is why many get tempted to keep using these products as soon as the results fade, but do not overdo it. Too much whitening can lead to permanent dental issues, which will defeat the purpose of having a healthy and whiter smile.