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Different types of teeth whitening

What about all those whitening treatments sold online, in beauty or whitening centres?  Are they effective?  Any risks involved receiving these treatments?  Just a few things you ought to know before buying teeth whitening products.

Whitening treatments and whitening products

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

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 so as to remove stains and discoloration more effectively.  These whitening products can be found in the form of toothpastes, mouthwashes or gum.

In addition to removing stains from the surface of the teeth, a tooth whitening treatment works inside the tooth to remove or reduce stains that have naturally formed inside the tooth enamel, while whitening the teeth completely.  It removes 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.  For a teeth whitening treatment to be effective, a few conditions must apply: the contact time between the peroxide and the tooth, the absence of saliva in contact with the peroxide (to avoid dilution) and the concentration of peroxide.  A tooth whitening treatment must be performed in a dental office that has access to products with the right peroxide content to obtain optimal results and that is able to perform tooth whitening safely.

In-office tooth whitening treatments

The whitening treatments performed in a dental office are all peroxide-based, namely hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.  They are performed with the help of barriers (trays or dams) to protect the gums and other oral mucous membranes and to avoid the risk of burns.

Since these dental treatments are performed under the supervision of a dental whitening professional, the concentration of peroxide is higher than that of over-the-counter products and therefore more effective.  Also, the products generally used in a dental office contain a desensitizing product, which reduces the risk of tooth sensitivity during the whitening treatment.  In addition, these whitening products are recognized by both the Canadian and American dental associations.  To ensure that a product complies with dental association standards, a seal is affixed to the packaging; this means that the tooth whitening product is safe, if used according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Charcoal toothpaste

Charcoal toothpaste is found 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 used in cases of overdose and intoxication, it is an abrasive product for teeth.  Since abrasive products thin the enamel of the teeth, this has the effect of amplifying dental sensitivity, increasing the risk of cavities and yellowing the teeth.  Dentists do not recommend charcoal toothpaste and they advise those who want to try it to use it once a month at most and in small quantities.  However, according to the companies that sell charcoal toothpaste, to have white teeth, you must use a generous amount, brush your teeth vigorously and do it at least twice a day.

Important to know: No recognized dental association in Quebec, nor the American Dental Association, has given the green light to charcoal toothpaste.  The possible long-term effects are loss of enamel, discoloration of teeth (darker teeth), and stains on teeth and tongue.

LED Light Therapy

This is a whitening treatment activated with a small portable LED light.  The Whitelight is sold with two tubes of whitening gel and dental silicone.  It is recommended to perform this treatment for 15 to 20 minutes, twice daily, but the number of days of treatment is not mentioned in order to get the desired results.  According to the sites visited, Whitelight kits do not all contain the same whitening products or the same amounts of product.  Also, although the manufacturer mentions that its product is guaranteed peroxide-free, the whitening product used is carbamide peroxide (which is peroxide!).  Therefore, it is not possible to determine the concentration of peroxide that is sold with Whitelight.

Note that there is always a risk of burning the gums and oral mucosa when using peroxide in a teeth whitening treatment.  Barriers are therefore essential to prevent the peroxide from coming into contact with the gums or the inside of the mouth.  This product does not come with a tray to contain the peroxide.

Tooth whitening treatments in a beauty centre

Despite their professional appearance, the people offering this type of teeth whitening treatment 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 come into contact with the whitening product, it is very important to isolate the teeth, to properly cover the gums and other mucous membranes of the mouth and to make sure that the whitening product does not run into the mouth.  Only oral health professionals can have access to whitening treatments and products performed in dental offices.  Cosmetic and teeth whitening centres can only obtain products with lower concentrations, which are less effective.  Despite the lower concentration of peroxide, there is still a risk of burning the mucous membranes and many people have unfortunately experienced this.

Self-adhesive strips

This home tooth whitening treatment is peroxide-based.  Pre-cut strips are coated with the whitening product.  You must apply these whitening strips to your clean teeth and leave them in place for 30 minutes (without eating or drinking).

This tooth whitening treatment is the over-the-counter product that gives the best results.  Even though the concentration of peroxide is lower than the peroxide contained in the whitening products used in dental offices, the strips keep the product on the teeth only, thus avoiding any contact with the mucous membranes and dilution with saliva.  Wearing time allows for a change in the color of the teeth after several applications.  On the other hand, the position of some people’s teeth makes it more difficult to apply the strips, sometimes even leaving marks when they do not completely cover the tooth.  Moreover, this treatment must be repeated regularly to maintain the results.

You are now better prepared to make an educated decision.  In any case, before using any of these teeth whitening options, it is always recommended that you talk to your dentist.

Make an appointment for a teeth whitening consultation with a professional from Lapointe Dental Centres, it’s free!