Home tooth whitening kits
Want whiter teeth? Is a professional whitening treatment too expensive for you? A home tooth whitening kit may be the solution. But with so many kits out there, which one is right for you?
How does tooth whitening work?
Tooth whitening is also known as tooth bleaching. Most bleaching products contain oxidizing agents such as carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide These chemicals penetrate the enamel of the teeth to break down the stain deposits on the teeth. After some time, the layer underneath the enamel, called dentin, is bleached as well.
Before you start whitening treatment
To get the best results from a whitening treatment at home it is best to remove the plaque from the surface of your teeth. It is strongly advisable to visit your dental hygienist for a scale and polish. This will provide a good base for the whitening system to act.
Whitening kit: tray-based system
Tray-based systems are the most common, and arguably the most effective. This is available from your dentist, where they will design custom-made trays to fit over your teeth exactly. They will provide you with gel to place inside the trays. Then fit the trays to your teeth and leave them for 45 to 90 minutes (depending on the product) to allow for the gel to take effect.
You can also buy trays over the counter from a pharmacy, although these trays are less effective as they are not made to measure. These work in a similar way to the specialist dental trays – using gel on the trays, although usually these are to be left for around half an hour (again this depends on the product used).
Whitening: tooth bleaching strips
These are available at most pharmacies and are the most cost-effective bleaching system. They are plastic strips coated with the oxidizing agent (usually carbamide peroxide) worn on top of the teeth. Normally these are worn twice daily, for half an hour at a time.
This method is not always effective, and sometimes ‘misses out’ small sections where the strip doesn’t cover the teeth. This can have a the effect of ‘stripes’ where the teeth look a different colour to the rest.
This is not available everywhere as it is not a particularly common solution. The pen contains bleaching gel, which you apply directly to your teeth in a thin layer. It takes a minute to dry and you don’t need to remove it as it goes away naturally. You shouldn’t brush your teeth for at least 10 minutes after application
There are a number of whitening toothpastes available. Brush your teeth daily with a whitening toothpaste and usually you will notice a difference after 2-3 weeks. This is a gradual process and can be used in conjunction with other whitening treatments.
How long does it last?
Your teeth will stay white for different lengths of time depending on the system used and how long you use it for. Usually home whitening treatments last for about six months. To keep your teeth white, avoid eating and drinking things that stain your teeth, such as coffee, tea and red wine.
Are there any side effects?
The most common side effect to tooth whitening is tooth sensitivity. Use a toothpaste especially formulated for sensitive teeth which should help with this. If sensitivity persists, it is best to consult your dentist.