How Well Do Teeth Whiteners Work?

Everyone would love to have a bright, beautiful smile. Unfortunately, for many of us, our smiles are not as bright as we’d like. That’s because the process of aging, as well as the prevalence of staining foods and beverages (chocolate, berries, coffee, tea, red wine, etc.), can discolor our teeth.

So it’s no wonder that people are always looking for teeth whitening methods that work. Many people will try several different ones before finding ones that work.

Let us save you the trouble. We’re reporting on some of the more common at-home whitening methods and how well they’ve been shown to work.

Does Teeth Whitening Work?

DIY Whitening

Effectiveness: None
Risk: High

Some people want to believe that they can mix up a teeth whitening recipe that’s more effective and safer than commercial whiteners available on the market. However, they’re usually wrong on both counts.

Most of the common at-home whitening techniques fit into one of two categories: they’re either abrasive or they’re acidic. Sometimes they’re both, and that’s a problem. Acidity softens tooth enamel and then the abrasive material removes it.

This may initially provide some superficial whitening, as stained enamel is stripped away. However, it also creates places for stains to lodge, which means that the effect doesn’t last, and has to be repeated frequently. Eventually, the enamel, which is very thin, is worn thin, allowing the darker colors of the inner tooth structure (dentin and pulp) to show through, which makes teeth permanently darker.

Whitening Toothpastes

Effectiveness: Low
Risk: High

Unlike DIY whiteners, some whitening toothpastes include proven whitening ingredients, and can be effective. However, these have to be in very low concentrations because they can irritate gums and cheeks, which they will contact.

However, many whitening toothpastes are also very abrasive–they can wear your teeth away just like DIY whiteners. This includes the newly popular charcoal toothpastes.

Whitening Mouthwashes

Effectiveness: None
Risk: Low

A recent study showed that soaking teeth in a whitening mouthwash for 30 days didn’t improve the color of the teeth. If 30 days of soaking doesn’t improve the color, how likely is it that a quick swish-and-spit will help?

The good news is that these mouthwashes aren’t likely to do much harm. They can be slightly drying, but they are also antibacterial, so it’s hard to say whether you’re likely to see more benefit than harm from these whiteners.

OTC Whitening Strips and Trays

Effectiveness: Moderate
Risk: Low

Of all the home whitening strategies, over-the-counter whitening strips and trays are the best. These kits have proven whiteners that can improve the color of your teeth when used properly. Their main limitation is that their whitening compounds are at relatively low concentrations.

When used according to directions, these whiteners have low risk of damaging your teeth. However, some people try to maximize the effectiveness of the whiteners and overuse them, which can lead to tooth damage.

Professional Whitening

Effectiveness: High
Risk: Very Low

Of course, professional whitening is the best approach for whitening your teeth. We have access to the strongest whiteners and we can apply them to your teeth carefully for both maximum effectiveness and maximum safety. We can also teach you how to use your properly fitted at-home whitening tray to maintain and improve your results safely.

Speaking of safety, we can monitor your teeth to make sure they’re not being damaged by whitening. We can start by evaluating your teeth to make sure they’re healthy enough for whitening, and that they’ll respond to whitening. Then we can use whiteners that can reduce sensitivity or other effects of whiteners.

Are You Ready for a Whiter Smile?

If you’re tired of trying home whitening techniques that aren’t very effective and can damage your teeth? Talk to a professional about your whitening options. We can let you know if your teeth will respond to whitening or if you need a treatment like porcelain veneers to have the beautiful smile you desire.

For more information about getting a bright smile in the Houston area, please call (281) 367-5559 today for an appointment with cosmetic dentist Dr. Scott Young, Purveyor of Fine Dentistry in The Woodlands.