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:
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.
Both at-home and dental office systems use a form of peroxide to activate the whitening.
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:
You will typically get better and faster results whitening your teeth through a dentist. Yet, home whitening appeals to many people because it is:
Just as with any do-it-yourself project, there can be some drawbacks:
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:
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...
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...
You want to avoid absorbing whitening gel into your body through your mouth, you know what I mean?
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.
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.
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.
The peroxide-based bleaching ingredient is harsh on your teeth.
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.
Share your experience whitening your own teeth at home in the comments below: