Is Teeth Whitening Right for You?

There is a wide range of teeth whitening options available, including toothpastes, gels, strips, rinses and professional whitening procedures done by dentists. While these are all good options for people with healthy teeth that have no fillings, they may not be right for everyone. Keep reading to find out which option is best for you.


Whitening toothpastes work well for removing most surface stains, due to their abrasive nature. Most of these toothpastes are able to lighten the color of teeth by one shade, as they do not contain bleaching agents. Some pastes may contain carbamide peroxide, which can lighten tooth enamel more effectively. If you have severely yellowed teeth, these toothpastes will not be as effective as the light-activated options provided by the dentist.


Whitening strips are very thin polyethylene plastic strips that are coated with hydrogen or carbamide peroxide. These strips mold to the teeth, where saliva initiates a reaction. The reaction releases an acid called urea that works to break down the stains while the peroxide whitens the teeth. This method of whitening works well for those with yellow teeth, but for teeth that are brown or have a grayish tinge, they will not be effective. It is also worth mentioning that these strips can cause irritation to the gums as well as sensitivity in the teeth.


Whitening gels are similar to the strips but require the bleaching agent to be brushed directly onto the teeth. There are many different brands and each uses a different formula and strength, so it is important to follow all instructions carefully. In most cases, the gel will have to be applied daily. The results after treatment typically last three to four months.


Whitening rinses are very similar to traditional mouthwashes in that they help with keeping plaque and bad breath at bay. However, they also contain hydrogen peroxide to provide an added whitening boost with repeated use. Some of these rinses may take up to 12 weeks before any noticeable whitening is apparent, which is why they are often used in conjunction with other at-home whitening treatments or between dental whitenings. Considering that most of these rinses are only used for a short period each day, it is understandable that they may not be as effective in removing stains as the strips and gels.


While considerably more expensive than the over-the-counter options, teeth whitening done in a dental office is also much more effective. These treatments often require special lasers or heat sources and significant results are usually seen after a single treatment, which can last from 30 minutes up to an hour. Those with severely discolored teeth will see much better results with dental applications than they can ever achieve at home with strips or gels. However, it may require multiple visits to see the best results.

Now that you know more about the teeth whitening options available, you can choose the one that will work best for you.

By Dr. Ritu Goel