Tooth Whitening Gel
How to Get Great Results at Home...

Teeth whitening gel and tray

A tooth whitening gel is one of the many products available for obtaining whiter teeth.

Dentist tell me everyday how their patients want whiter and whiter teeth. And it's not just here in the U.S., either.

The British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (BACD) says recent studies indicate a strong desire to replace current teeth with whiter ones.

You have two possibilities to get your teeth whiter:

  1. Your dentist, and;
  2. Do-it-yourself at home.

Until relatively recently, whitening procedures done by your dentist were the only way to go. But this has changed.

Home dental whitening products are hugely popular and new over-the-counter (OTC) brands hit stores almost every week.

Yet, whether the product is OTC or from a dentist, the main active ingredient is a form of peroxide.

Professional Whitening Kit, Shade Guide, Instructions

Whitening Gel And Its Delivery Systems

Both at-home and dental office systems use a form of peroxide to activate the whitening.

Max Strength 44% Home Whitening Kit

In general, dentist office systems  tend to rely on high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide (35%+), while at-home systems utilize carbamine peroxide gels (10 to 20%).

However, today you can easily find professional strength whitening systems online.

You can buy OTC whitening gel systems in many formats:

  • The gel alone in a pen or syringe;
  • As strips, which are less messy. e.g. Crest Whitestrips;
  • In a kit that includes a mouthpiece or mouth guard to better apply the gel onto the teeth.

Why Home Teeth Whitening Products?

You will typically get better and faster results whitening your teeth through a dentist. Yet, home whitening appeals to many people because it is:

  • Convenient - do it when you want, no appointment needed;
  • Less expensive;
  • Gives you control;
  • No appointment needed for simple touch-ups;
  • Sensitive teeth may respond better to the lower levels (concentrations) of peroxide.

Disadvantages Of At-Home Tooth Whitening Gel

Just as with any do-it-yourself project, there can be some drawbacks:

  • Not every brand you try will work on your teeth;
  • Results usually take longer than in-office treatments;
  • The mouth tray may fit poorly because it's not customized to your teeth;
  • You can face safety concerns if you don't follow the directions;
  • Side effects include gum sensitivity as well as tooth sensitivity, which are also common in dentist office whitening treatments.

Tips For Getting Great Results from
Home Whitening Gel Systems

Despite some of the issues above, if you are not in a rush or have minor whitening concerns, you may want to try a home whitening gel product before visiting a dentist.

Below are a few tips to get the best results on your own and reduce any tooth sensitivity (the biggest complaint about teeth whitening) you may have:

1. Use a Whitening Tray Custom-Made in a Dental Lab

This is one of the secrets to getting great results and minimizing discomfort caused by the bleaching process.

Many kits come with stiff mouth trays. They are made from plastic. You can cut them so they fit better inside your mouth, but they are never comfortable.

The next step up would be thermo-forming mouth pieces. These are made from a different kind of plastic.

You dip it in boiling water for a couple of seconds to soften it.

Then, while it's still supple from the heat, place it into your mouth, bite down firmly, but not too hard, and arrange it over your teeth.

As it cools inside your mouth, it takes the shape of your teeth.

These aren't bad; better than stiff trays and cheap. But they leave too many open spaces where the gel won't reach properly...

Do it Yourself Thermoform Teeth Whitening Trays

Here's the problem with mouth trays that don't fit right. They leave too many empty spots between your teeth and the tray.

To fix this, most people dab on a lot more gel hoping to fill in the gaps.

This could work, but it's not great because...

  • It wastes gel;
  • Creates unpredictable results (you won't get the whitening you want);
  • The excess gel can cause additional tooth sensitivity, and;
  • Worst of all, the gel oozes from the tray damaging your gums (gum sensitivity), and;
  • Gets into your mouth.

You want to avoid absorbing whitening gel into your body through your mouth, you know what I mean?

Custom Made, in the Lab, Mouth Trays

A custom-fit whitening tray (mouth guard), made in a dental lab, gets rid of all these problems.

These trays fit your teeth like a glove.

Enabling you to use less gel because you know it reaches where needed; giving you the best available whitening results.

Plus, you don't waste gel, you avoid making a mess, and best of all, it keeps the gel from spilling onto your gums and into your mouth.

Of course, a dentist can get these made for you for a few hundred dollars. But, you can go direct and save.

When you go direct, either as part of a whitening kit that includes custom trays, or ordering custom trays alone, you'll get a do-it-yourself kit from the lab.

Roughly, these are steps you have to follow:

1) Mix the impression paste;

2) Use the paste and tools included in your kit to take an impression of your teeth;

3) Mail the finished impression back to the lab;

4) Wait for the lab to send you your custom fitting mouth tray from the impression you sent.

The only draw back is that you have to make as accurate an impression of your mouth as possible. Most labs send you enough material for a couple of tries.

Professional Home Whitening Kit with Custom Mouth Trays

In any case, you'll still end up with a better and more accurate whitening tray than either the hard plastic or the thermo-forming options.

2. Use Weaker Concentration (Strength) Tooth Whitening Gels

It'll take longer to get results, and you may not see dramatic changes if your teeth are severely discolored.

But each session won't bother you as much. And if it does, the discomfort won't last as long afterward.

I personally had great results with 5-Minute Speed Whitening. The 5-Minute part means you use the product for only 5 minutes at a time.

Some of the other, more powerful brands I tried gave me headaches. Plus, they wanted me to leave the gel on longer. If you have an issue with sensitivity, like me, you may want to give 5-Minute Speed Whitening a try.

5 Minute Speed Whitening System

3. Use Remineralizing Gel

The peroxide-based bleaching ingredient is harsh on your teeth.

It doesn't scrub away surface stains like whitening toothpaste.

It literally soaks into your enamel and bleaches the outside of your tooth as well as inside the enamel and dentin.

Many people who suffer from tooth sensitivity claim that  remineralization gels help repair (fluoride) some of the damage caused by bleaching.

In addition, other ingredients in these gels help lessen sensitivity.

Remineralization Gels: Stronger and Less Sensitive Teeth

Get the Best Whitening Gel Results at Home - Recap:

  1. Choose the best fitting mouth tray you can buy. This helps ensure that the gel is applied directly where it's needed and nowhere else. It minimizes waste, speeds up your results, and keeps gel from spilling onto your gums and into your mouth, helping you avoid gum sensitivity, headaches, and pain. You can buy whitening kits that include dental lab made mouth trays or simply order custom whitening trays alone.

  2. If sensitivity is an issue, use products with weaker, less concentrated amounts of the peroxide bleaching agent. It may take longer to get the results you want, but it will be more gentle for you. I got headaches from most brands, until I used 5-Miunute Speed Whitening.

  3. To minimize discomfort and sensitivity even more, many people like to use remineralizing gels. They help strengthen the enamel and soothe minor pain. Use a custom made mouth tray for best results.


Share your experience whitening your own teeth at home in the comments below:


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