Who doesn’t want a shining new set of pearly whites?
In the age of at-home- everything a Hollywood smile seems just a click away. If you do a quick google search of teeth whitening treatments, you’ll find options ranging from $6 to $600, all promising a better, new, more confident you. A dazzling smile in just 30 minutes, teeth so bright they’d put Tom Cruise’s gleaming set to shame.
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Your Whitening 101
There are three main types of whitening treatments available on the market:
- 1. Over the shelf whitenings kits
- 2. Professional home whitening treatments
- 3. In-clinic whitening treatments
These three categories sit in varying price ranges, with over the shelf kits costing anywhere from $6- $60, professional home whitening treatments averaging around $600 and in clinic treatments ranging up to $1,000++ per session.
Cost aside, an important qualifier of a whitening treatment is effectiveness – which option can give you the brightest smile in the shortest span of time.
Now, before we even get into the different treatments and their effectiveness, it’s important to understand the types of stains we are trying to get rid of. Your teeth, over the years accumulate extrinsic stains from drinking coffee, smoking and your occasional glass of red wine. These sit on the outside of the teeth and differ from intrinsic stains, which occur from causes within the teeth. Most teeth whitening treatments aim at removing and limiting extrinsic staining.
Over The Shelf Whitening Kits
If you’ve scrolled through Instagram in the last year, chances are you’ve encountered your favourite celebrities endorsing these treatments – cool LED contraptions sticking out their mouths promising you a dazzling, bright smile just like theirs.
Their one-size-fits-all trays and gels that give you whiter teeth in just 30 minutes sound too good to be true – and that’s exactly what they are:
We hate saying this but, based on our comprehensive testing, they just don’t work! When it came to removing discoloration from our test subjects teeth, there was no visible effect even after consistent usage over a week. This is mostly because the whitening gels of these DIY kits cannot legally exceed a hydrogen peroxide level of 0.1% – which is barely enough to show effective results.
The LED light looked cool but served no purpose beyond aesthetics.
But don’t take our word for it.
Dr. Bruce Lee, clinical director at T32 Dental Centre told CNA that, “As for the “cold” light which manufacturers claim will speed up the whitening process, research has proven that the whitening process is effected by the whitening gel. Whether or not there is light or the source of the light makes no significant difference.”
Reported cases of burned gums, tooth sensitivity and enamel corrosion are fueling the rising concerns not only over the legitimacy of these DIY over the shelf kits, but also their safety. Moreover, an important part of any orthodontic treatment is diagnosis.
By cutting out the dentist you’re also increasing the risks associated with these whitening treatments.
Dr. Huang Shiming of TP dental believes that, “It is important to identify complexities and address them before starting on any tooth whitening procedure. Proper diagnosis and treatment planning is more than half the battle won. This, however, takes a trained eye.”
Professional Home Whitening Treatments
Which brings us to our second category – professional home whitening treatments.
This solution is the best of both worlds – professional results in the comfort of your own home. With an affordable price point and results that speak for themselves, this treatment seems like more bang for your buck.
The whitening gel is prescribed by a dentist only after a thorough consultation assessing your teeth conditions and concerns. Professional home teeth-whitening treatments usually consist of
- custom made trays that fit your teeth perfectly and
- whitening gels containing hydrogen or carbamide peroxide – a commonly used agent in most whitening solutions.
The important thing to note is the concentration of hydrogen peroxide used – anywhere above 35% and it can cause the soft tissues of your gums to burn. 0.1%-6% of hydrogen peroxide( 0.3% – 18% carbamide peroxide) is usually a safe bet to stick to.
Does Professional Home Teeth Whitening Work???
We’ll let these before-and-afters do the talking.
In-Clinic Teeth-Whitening Treatment
Without a doubt, this option is the most effective, and the most hassle-free.
It’s administered by a dentist, it’s safe and it’ll give you the dazzling smile of your dreams in just 75 minutes. The only downside- the price tag. With one session averaging around $1,000++, it’s neither a long term solution nor a sustainable one. If you can afford it, go for this option.
Here’s a pro tip:
- Get professional in-clinic dental whitening treatments before big events like weddings.
- Then, follow up with a medical-grade home whitening kit to maintain your pristine pearly whites post-treatment.
Bottom line, whichever option you go for, educate yourself, read the fine print – find out the ingredients they contain and consult your dentist.
Take these precautions early, and you’ll be smiling bright for a really long time.