Find out if teeth whitening is right for you!
Many teeth whitening systems are available, including whitening toothpastes, over-the-counter gels, strips and trays, and whitening agents obtained from our Glendale dentist.
Teeth whitening is ideal for people who have healthy, unrestored teeth (no fillings)
and gums. Individuals with yellow tones to their teeth respond best. But this cosmetic
procedure is not recommended for everyone.
All toothpastes help remove surface stains because they have mild abrasives. Some
whitening toothpastes contain gentle polishing or chemical agents that provide additional
stain removal effectiveness.
Whitening toothpastes can help remove surface stains only and do
not contain bleach; over-the-counter and professional whitening products contain
hydrogen peroxide (a bleaching substance) that helps remove stains on the tooth
surface as well as stains deep in the tooth.
Whitening toothpastes can lighten your tooth's color by about one shade. In contrast,
light-activated whitening conducted in our Glendale dental office
(see below) can make your teeth three to eight shades
Over-the-Counter Whitening Strips and Gels
Whitening gels are clear, peroxide-based gels applied with a small
brush directly to the surface of your teeth. Instructions generally call for twice
a day application for 14 days. Initial results are seen in a few days and final
results are sustained for about 4 months. The retail cost for this product is about
$15 for a 14-day treatment.
Whitening strips are very thin, virtually invisible strips that
are coated with a peroxide-based whitening gel. The strips are applied twice daily
for 30 minutes for 14 days. Initial results are seen in a few days and final results
are sustained for about 4 months. The retail cost for this product ranges from $10
to $55 for a 14-day treatment.
Tray-Based Tooth Whitening Products
Tray based teeth whitening systems, purchased either over-the-counter or from your
dentist, involve filling a mouth guard-like tray with a gel whitening solution
– which contains a peroxide-bleaching agent – and wearing the tray for a period
of time, generally from a couple hours a day to every day during the night for up
to 4 weeks and even longer (depending on the degree of staining and desired level
In-office bleaching provides the quickest and most effective way to whiten teeth.
With in-office bleaching, the whitening product is applied directly to the teeth.
These products can be used in combination with heat, a special light, and/or a laser.
The light and/or heat accelerate the whitening process.
Results are seen in only 1, 30- to 60-minute treatment. But, to achieve dramatic
results, several appointments are usually needed. However, with laser-enhanced bleaching,
dramatic results can be seen after the first treatment.
How Long Do the Whitening Effects Last?
Whitening is not permanent. People who expose their teeth to foods and beverages
that cause staining may see the whiteness start to fade in as little as 1 month.
Those who avoid foods and beverages that stain may be able to wait one year or longer
before another whitening treatment or touch-up is needed.
The degree of whiteness will vary from individual to individual depending
on the condition of the teeth, nature of the stain, the type of bleaching system
used and for how long.
Differences between Over-the-Counter At-Home Teeth Whitening Vs. Dentist-Supervised Teeth Whitening Products
- Strength of bleaching agent. OTC:
Over-the-counter home use products and dentist-prescribed at-home products usually
contain a lower strength-bleaching agent from 10% carbamide peroxide, which is equivalent
to about 3% hydrogen peroxide, up to 22% carbamide peroxide. Dentist: In-office,
professionally applied tooth whitening products contain hydrogen peroxide in concentrations
ranging from 15% to 43%.
- Mouthpiece trays. Dentist: With
dentist-supervised at-home bleaching products, your Glendale dentist will take
an impression of your teeth and make a mouthpiece tray that is customized to exactly
fit your teeth. This customization allows for maximum contact between the whitening
gel, which is applied to the mouthpiece tray, and the teeth. A custom-made tray
also minimizing the gel's contact with gum tissue. OTC: Over-the-counter
whitening products also contain a mouthpiece tray, but the "one-size-fits-all"
approach means that the fit will not be exact. Ill-fitting trays can irritate the
gum and soft tissue by allowing more bleaching gel to seep onto these tissues. With
in-office procedures, the bleaching agent is applied directly to the teeth.
- Additional protective measures. Dentist:
In our Glendale dental office setting, our dentist will apply either a gel to the
gum tissue or use a rubber shield (which slides over the teeth) prior to treatment
to protect your gums and oral cavity from the effects of the bleaching. OTC:
Over-the-counter products don't provide these extra protective measures.
- Costs. OTC: Over-the-counter bleaching
systems are the least expensive option, with costs ranging from $20 to about $150.
Dentist: Depending on where you live and the extent of the procedure, dentist-supervised
home bleaching systems range in cost from approximately $150 to $300 per upper or
lower set of teeth, or $300 to $600 for the whole mouth
- Supervised vs. unsupervised process.
Dentist: Dentist-supervised at-home bleaching and in-office treatments offer
additional benefits compared with over-the-counter procedures. First, your dentist
can perform an oral examination and consider your complete medical history, which
can be helpful in determining how your teeth became discolored and if bleaching
is an appropriate course of treatment based on your type and extent of stains and
type, number and location of restorations.
Your dentist can then better match the type of stain with the best treatment, if
appropriate, to lighten those stains. With dentist-supervised bleaching procedures,
your dentist will likely want to see you a couple of times to ensure you are following
directions, to make sure the customized tray is fitting properly, to inspect your
gums for signs of irritation, and to generally check on how the teeth whitening
process is proceeding. OTC: With over-the-counter bleaching products, you
are on your own.
Who Should Not Undergo Teeth Whitening?
Whitening is not recommended or will be less successful in the following circumstances:
- Age and pregnancy issues. Bleaching is
not recommended in children under the age of 16. This is because
the pulp chamber, or nerve of the tooth, is enlarged until this age. Teeth whitening
under this condition could irritate the pulp or cause it to become sensitive. Teeth
whitening are also not recommended in pregnant or lactating
- Sensitive teeth and allergies. Individuals
with sensitive teeth and gums, receding gums and/or defective restorations should
consult with their dentist prior to using a tooth whitening system. Anyone allergic
to peroxide (the whitening agent) should not use a bleaching product.
- Gum disease, worn enamel, cavities, and exposed
roots. Individuals with gum disease or teeth with worn enamel are generally
discouraged from undergoing a tooth whitening procedure. Cavities need to be treated
before undergoing any whitening procedure. This is because the whitening solutions
penetrate into any existing decay and the inner areas of the tooth, which can
cause sensitivity. Also, whitening procedures will not work on exposed
tooth roots because roots do not have an enamel layer.
- Fillings, crowns and other restorations.
Tooth-colored fillings and resin composite materials used in dental restorations
(crowns, veneers, bonding, bridges) do not whiten. Therefore, using a whitening
agent on teeth that contain restorations will results in uneven whitening-in
this case, making the teeth without restorations appear lighter than those with
restorations. Any whitening procedure should be done prior to the placement of restorations.
Individuals with numerous restorations that would result in uneven whitening may
be better off considering bonding, veneers or crowns rather than a tooth whitening
system. Ask us what strategy is best for you.
- Unrealistic expectations. Individuals
who expect their teeth to be a new "blinding white" may be disappointed
with their results. Smokers need to be aware that their results will be limited
unless they refrain from continued smoking, particularly during the bleaching process.
A healthy guide as to a reasonable degree of whiteness to achieve with a whitening
process that would give a natural appearance to a person's teeth
is a slightly whiter color than the whites of your eyes.
- Darkly stained teeth. Yellowish teeth
respond well to bleaching, brownish-colored teeth respond less well and grayish-hue
or purple-stained teeth may not respond to bleaching at all. Blue-gray staining
caused by tetracycline is more difficult to lighten and may require
up to 6 months of home treatments or several in-office Glendale dental appointments
to successfully lighten. Teeth that have dark stains may be better candidates for
another lightening option, such as veneers, bonding, or crowns. Your dentist can
discuss the options best suited for you.
Risks Associated With Teeth Whitening
The two side effects that occur most often are a temporary increase in tooth sensitivity
and mild irritation of the soft tissues of the mouth, particularly the gums.
Tooth sensitivity often occurs during early stages of the bleaching treatment. Tissue
irritation most commonly results from an ill-fitting mouthpiece tray rather than
the tooth-bleaching agent. Both of these conditions usually are temporary and
disappear within 1 to 3 days of stopping or completing treatment.
If you do experience sensitivity, you can reduce or eliminate it by:
- Wearing the tray for a shorter period of time (for example, two 30-minute sessions
vs. two 60-minute sessions)
- Stop whitening your teeth for two to three days to allow your teeth to adjust to
the whitening process
- Ask your Glendale dentist or pharmacist for a high fluoride-containing product,
which can help remineralize your teeth. Apply the fluoride product to the tray and
wear for 4 minutes prior to and following the whitening agent.
- Brush your teeth with a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth. These toothpastes contain
potassium nitrate, which helps soothe your teeth's nerve endings.
Some bleaching products dispensed through dentists' offices as well as professionally
applied (in-office) bleaching products have received the ADA Seal of Acceptance
, which indicates that the product has met ADA guidelines for safety
and effectiveness. Currently, only dentist-dispensed home-use products containing
10% carbamide peroxide and office-applied products containing 35% hydrogen peroxide
have received the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
Over-the-counter bleaching products are not endorsed by the ADA because the
organization believes that professional consultation is important to ensuring safe
and effective use. No whitening products using lasers currently are on the ADA's
list of accepted products. Several whitening toothpastes that are available over-the-counter
have received the ADA Seal of Acceptance. For a list of specific toothpastes that
have gained the ADA's Seal of Acceptance, visit: www.ada.org
It should be noted that not all manufacturers seek the ADA's Seal of Acceptance.
This is a voluntary program that requires considerable expense and time on the part
of a manufacturer. Just because a product does not have the ADA Seal of Acceptance
does not necessarily mean that the product is not safe and effective. You can be
assured, however, that products that do carry the seal have meet the ADA's standards
for safety and effectiveness when used as directed.
Teeth whiteners are not drugs and therefore are not regulated by the FDA.
Tips to Consider When Choosing an Over-the-Counter Whitening Kit:
- Try to select a kit that allows some customization of the mouthpiece.
Some kits come with a mouthpiece that can be molded to some degree. These are better
than others that come with a standard mouthpiece.
- Try to gain the opinion of others who may have already tried the
kit you are considering.
- If at any time you experience a prolonged change in the color of your gums or increased
tooth sensitivity to hot or cold foods and beverages, stop wearing
the mouthpiece and see your dentist immediately.
Location: 6300 San Fernando Rd, Glendale, CA 91201