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  • 3 June 2021

The different types of whitening treatments

What about all those whitening treatments sold on the internet or in beauty centers or whitening stations?
Are they effective? Are there any risks to receiving these treatments? Here are a few things you ought to know before buying these products.

First of all, it is important to understand the difference between whitening treatment and whitening product.

A whitening product cleans the surface of the teeth by removing stains from them.  This product will be more abrasive than regular toothpastes without whitening agents in order to remove stains and discoloration more effectively.  These whitening products can be found in the form of toothpastes, mouthwashes or gums.

As for the whitening treatment, its role is to eliminate the impurities that are lodged inside the enamel of the teeth.  These impurities come mainly from the food we eat every day and from tobacco.  Only peroxide has this effect.  In addition, in order for the whitening treatment to be effective, a few conditions must be respected: the contact time between the peroxide and the tooth, the absence of saliva in contact with the peroxide (dilution) and the concentration of peroxide.  Bleaching treatments are mainly performed in dental offices because there are several precautions to take to perform a bleaching treatment safely.

In-office dental treatments

The whitening treatments sold in dental offices are all based on peroxide (hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide).  They are all performed with the help of barriers (trays or dams) to protect the gums and other oral mucous membranes and avoid the risk of burns.  Since these treatments are performed under the supervision of a dentist, the concentration of peroxide is higher than that of over-the-counter products and, therefore, more effective.  Also, in general, the products used in dental offices all contain a desensitizing product, which reduces the risk of tooth sensitivity during the whitening treatment.  In addition, these whitening products are recognized by the Canadian and American dental associations.  To ensure that a product complies with the standards of the dental associations, a seal is affixed to the packaging; this means that the product is safe if used according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Charcoal toothpaste

It is available in powder or paste form.  It is made from bones, coconut, peat, petroleum coke, coal, olive pits and sawdust (according to Healthline).  This toothpaste is supposed to absorb and remove stains caused by food (red wine, coffee, etc.).  Although charcoal is known for its ability to absorb dirt and impurities and is used in cases of overdose and intoxication, it is an abrasive product for teeth.  Since abrasive products make the enamel of the teeth thinner, this has the effect of increasing tooth sensitivity, increasing the risk of cavities and yellowing the teeth. Dentists do not recommend this product and warn those who want to try it to use it once a month and in small quantities.  On the other hand, according to the companies that sell this product, to have white teeth, you must use a generous quantity, brush your teeth vigorously and do it at least twice a day.

Important to know: no recognized dental association in Quebec or the American Dental Association has given charcoal toothpaste the green light.  The possible long-term effects are loss of enamel, discoloration of the teeth (darker teeth) and stains on the teeth and tongue.

LED Light Therapy

This is a whitening treatment activated with a small portable LED (light emitting diode) light.  Whitelight is sold with 2 tubes of whitening gel and dental silicone.  It is recommended to perform this treatment for 15 to 20 minutes, twice daily.  There is no mention of how long it is recommended to do this treatment in order to get the desired results.  Furthermore, depending on the website visited, Whitelight kits do not all contain the same whitening products or the same quantity of the product.  Also, although the manufacturer mentions that its product is guaranteed to be peroxide-free, it is noted that the whitening product used is carbamide peroxide (which is peroxide!).  Furthermore, it is not possible to know what concentration of peroxide is sold with the Whitelight.

It is important to know that there is always a risk of burning the gums and oral mucous membranes when using peroxide.  Barriers are therefore essential to prevent the peroxide from coming into contact with the gums or the inside of the mouth.  With this product, there is no tray to contain the peroxide.

Treatment in cosmetic centers

Despite their professional appearance, the people offering these types of whitening treatments are not oral health professionals and are therefore not able to properly protect the gums and other oral mucous membranes.  Since there is a risk of burning when the mucous membranes are in contact with the whitening product, it is very important to isolate the teeth, to hide the gums and other mucous membranes of the mouth and to make sure that the whitening product does not run into the mouth.  It is important to know that only dentists can have access to whitening treatments and products done in the dental office.  Cosmetic centers and whitening stations can only obtain products with a lower concentration, and therefore less effective.  However, despite the lower concentration of peroxide, the risk of burning the mucous membranes remains and many people have unfortunately experienced this.

Self-adhesive strips

This dental bleaching treatment is peroxide-based.  Pre-cut strips are coated with this whitening product.  You must apply these strips to your clean teeth and leave them in place for 30 minutes (without eating or drinking).  It is important to know that this type of whitening treatment is the over-the-counter product that has the best results.  In fact, although the concentration of peroxide is lower than that of the peroxide contained in the whitening products sold in dental offices, the strips allow the product to remain on the teeth only and avoid any contact with the mucous membranes and do not dilute with saliva.  The wearing time is adequate to have a change in the color of the teeth after several applications.  However, the position of some people’s teeth makes it more difficult to apply the strips and sometimes even leaves lines when the strips do not completely cover the tooth.  In addition, this treatment must be repeated regularly to maintain results.

You are now better equipped to make an informed choice!  In any case, before using any of these options, it is always recommended that you talk to your dentist.

Make an appointment for a whitening consultation with a professional from the Lapointe Dental Centres. It’s free!

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