Let’s Talk Teeth Whitening

Teeth Whitening might sound like a great idea but you must keep in mind that your teeth and gums need to be in good shape and a deep cleaning is recommended before you begin any whitening product.  Consulting with your dentist is the best way to get all the right information.  If you are under 16 years of age the nerve of your teeth are enlarged and whitening will cause sensitive teeth and gums.

If you have had any previous dental work such as crowns, bridges and fillings the bleach will not take to the tooth and it will result in uneven discoloration.  If you have any cavities or exposed nerves and gum disease the bleach will only go inside the tooth and gums making it irritated and/or painful.

With the dentists recommendation and information you are given on your appointment you can begin whitening the best way for you.

When it comes to whitening your teeth there are a few options to choose from:

  1. Over-the-counter: This is the most inexpensive route but keep in mind that the whitening agent is weaker than the one that you would get at your dentist.
  2. Bleaching Trays:  Your dentist can make trays that will sit perfectly on your teeth leaving no missed spots like the ones you purchase over-the-counter.
  3. In-Office Whitening:  This is the most costly but it is the quickest and most powerful way to whiten your teeth.

Here is some examples of over-the-counter teeth whitening products:

  1.  Whitening toothpastes:  Now you have to remember that all toothpastes will eliminate stains on the surface of teeth.  With whitening pastes, they are made with a polishing and/or chemicals that give a boost to the result of removing the stains.  Also there are no bleaching agents involved and that limits the whitening to just the surface of your teeth.  Your final results with pastes would be only one or two shades lighter versus in-office whitening.
  2. Whitening strips and gels:  Strips and gels contain a peroxide and therefore will actually whiten the tooth not just the surface.  You will see results in just a couple of days and the outcome will last for a few months.  Gels are brushed onto the surface of the teeth two times a day for 2 weeks.  Strips are recommended to be applied two times a day for half an hour every day for 2 weeks and lasts a few months.
  3. Last we have Tray-Based Whiteners:  Trays can be purchased over-the-counter or at your dentist office.  Both are used the same way, by putting a small amount of the gel into the tray and then placing the tray over your teeth for a few hours during the day or night.  The results will start to be seen in about four weeks but do last longer than pastes, strips and gels.  The main difference with over-the-counter and getting the trays from your dentist is that the tray from your dentist will be custom made to fit your teeth rather than a one size fits all tray from the store.  Just having the tray fit to your teeth makes a dramatic difference in the results.


  1. We have already discussed the bleaching trays you can purchase from your dentist office.   Of course they will be a bit more expensive but the results will be dramatically better.
  2. In-Office Whitening: This is the most expensive option but it is also the quickest and the best results you will get in an hour treatment.  This option is when the dentist applies the bleaching solution directly to the teeth and follows with heat and a special light instrument.

Now that you have all the options we can talk some of the risks that could happen.  Keep in mind that with any teeth whitening you will be increasing the chances to have sensitive teeth and some discomfort on your gums.  The sensitivity you encounter on your teeth is temporary and only at the beginning of treatment.  Any discomfort around the gums is caused by a bleaching tray that is not the correct fit for your teeth and not the actual whitening product.  If you feel any of these symptoms with the treatment from the dentist please contact them immediately and with any product stop treatment for a few days so your teeth can adapt to the treatment.  And you can also brush with a paste designed for sensitive teeth and this will help.

And in conclusion just remember that it is always a good idea to consult with your dentist and get all the facts to make the best decision.  And do your homework on all products along with asking friends and family who may have done whitening before and can give you there honest opinion.

For an alternative to teeth whitening, check out laser teeth whitening vs bleaching as Laser Bleaching can be a safer option with those with sensitive gums.


Related Articles

Table of Contents