Teeth Whitening: Is It Effective And Sustainable?

Having beautiful white teeth is trendy! A bright smile is today a real social asset, a sign of good health and self-care. Whitening at the dentist, kit at home, correction pen … There is no shortage of proposals. But what is tooth whitening really all about? How to sort through all these offers? It works ?

Depending on our diet and our genetic makeup, our teeth tend to turn yellow over time. To overcome this phenomenon, dental whitening techniques are booming.

‍Teeth Whitening At The Dentist

In the office, the dentist has several techniques to whiten your teeth. As you will see, they are quite similar (in principle) to those used at home.

First of all, your dentist will carry out a complete oral examination allowing several points to be specified: interest of whitening, risks incurred, chances of success, causes of tooth staining … This examination will also be an opportunity to detect and treat any diseases that could affect your teeth, such as:

  • Cavities
  • Periodontitis (Inflammation Of The Gums)
  • Enamel Wear …

Indeed, your teeth must be in perfect health before being whitened: the product used can attack them if they are damaged. Finally, a scaling and polishing of the teeth will be carried out. Sometimes this is even enough to restore some shine to the teeth.

After this first phase, the dentist will begin the treatment itself, which can be done either in the office or at home. In both cases, the technique will be similar: the application of a gel composed of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, which is the whitening agent. It is also the latter that can damage damaged teeth and cause hypersensitivity to cold, heat …

➡ In the office, you will have one or more sessions during which the dentist protects your gums and lips. Then he applies the whitening gel to your teeth and activates it using blue light or a laser.

➡ At home, you have a custom-made gutter in which you put the gel. The aligner is then to be worn for several hours a day for one to several weeks, under the supervision of the dentist.

Home Whitening: A Real Alternative?

Today there are many ready-to-use kits, allowing you to do your own teeth whitening. Used properly, they can whiten teeth at a lower cost. Although they are not as effective as bleaching at the dentist. These kits are available in many forms:

Ready-To-Use Kits

These solutions are the closest to those offered by the dentist. They usually include a tray, peroxide gel, and a blue lamp to activate the gel. They offer relatively effective and lasting lightening, for an average cost of between 40 and 60 euros.

Self-Adhesive Transparent Strips

Very easy to use, they are coated with gel and are applied directly to the teeth for an average cost of 15 euros.

The Pen

It is applied locally on the small yellow spots of the teeth. It is therefore effective if you have a few tasks in places, but not if you want overall clarification.

How Do These Kits Work?

These kits contain hydrogen peroxide (or carbamide): it is the same whitening agent that is used by dentists. However, in kits intended for the general public, this agent is present at a much lower concentration.

European products are controlled by standards. The regulatory maximum concentration is 0.1% over the counter compared to 6% or more at the dentist. This is not the case everywhere! Be careful, in particular, of products from the United States, which risk being too concentrated and therefore potentially dangerous. In addition, the peroxide concentration is not always indicated on these products: be careful to read the labels carefully.

It can also cause irreversible damage from dental hypersensitivity. When highly concentrated, it should only be handled by professionals.

And In Terms Of Efficiency?

In short, ready-to-use kits are – if they meet safety standards – less concentrated in bleach. They therefore have less bleaching power than professional preparations. The results obtained will be more discreet.

Finally, note that tooth whitening should not be performed on a decayed tooth . If you choose homemade whitening, still remember to visit your dentist regularly to make sure your teeth are in good health!

What Are The Dangers And Impacts On Health?

If you opt for whitening at the dentist, the risks involved are minimal. The practitioner does everything in his power to ensure that the intervention has no harmful effects. The main risks are hypersensitivity or pain in the teeth / gums. This would lead to the treatment being stopped immediately.

Regarding treatments at home, the risks may be greater if you use products imported from abroad and escaping European regulations. As the concentrations are higher, use outside the control of a dental surgeon could result in:

  • Pains
  • Dental Hypersensitivity
  • Deterioration of the enamel (which can lead to premature wear of the teeth)
  • Irritation of the gums linked to the aggressiveness of the product.

In addition, the aligners are not completely adapted to the teeth of each one (unlike those of the dentist). The product could then end up on your gums.

‍Teeth whitening at the dentist therefore remains the safest solution and guarantees the best results. In return: a significant price which is between 500 € and 1200 € on average. The results are not final and last 1 or 2 years. Much more economical, homemade whitening kits have been very successful in recent years. However, we must be aware of the potential risks incurred as well as their reduced effectiveness.