What are the Different Types of Tooth Whitening?

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  • Written By: Cathy Rogers
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 22 December 2019
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Tooth whitening has become a safe, efficient way for many people to brighten their smiles. Many alternatives exist, from over the counter products to professional treatment options. When choosing among these alternatives, consider effectiveness, method, cost, and any possible risks. Consult an oral health care professional for individual recommendations.

The least expensive tooth whitening option is an over the counter (OTC) daily use product, such as toothbrushes, toothpaste or chewing gum. These products mechanically remove surface stains, provide temporary results, and usually only offer an improvement of one or two shades. In general, these tooth whitening methods do not make a dramatic difference, but may be useful to maintain professionally-whitened teeth.

Other over the counter products, such as tooth whitening strips and paint-on products, use a low concentration of a peroxide-based whitener. Still relatively inexpensive, this category of products can reduce age or diet-related staining and provide up to two shades of whitening. So, if limited results are sufficient for you, this is an economical alternative.

Tooth whitening products offered over television and the Internet should be used with caution. Some of the products in this category contain acid-based agents along with peroxide. The acidic products can damage the teeth and soft tissues. Also, because the trays used for some of these products are not custom-fitted, some users may swallow the whitening product.


Professional tooth whitening is available in two forms: in-office and at-home treatments. The in-office procedures are the most costly of all methods of tooth whitening and may require more than one visit. Peroxide agents are applied to the teeth either directly or in trays, and some use a laser, or light source, to accelerate the whitening process. The big advantage of this method of tooth whitening is the immediate result. This method can improve the smile five shades or more, but can also cause some temporary sensitivity.

Professionally supervised and dispensed tooth whitening products are effective on several types of stains. With this method, a dentist creates customized whitening trays for the user. The user then applies a thick peroxide based gel in the trays for at-home use. The results are very effective, up to six shades of improvement, but are gradual. Because of the regulation of product ingredients, the custom fitted trays, and professional supervision, this method is safer than similar products advertised on TV and the Internet.

Keep in mind that all products will only whiten natural teeth. If you have dental work in the front part of your mouth, see your oral health care professional for specific advice.


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Post 4

Even if you are using professional teeth whitening products can you use them too often? I love how white my teeth look when I use the tooth whitening and bleaching products my dentist gave me.

What I don't like is I have noticed that they sting when they are in my mouth and my teeth feel sensitive for awhile after I have removed the product.

I know a girl who does this every day and she has a very white smile that really stands out. I would love for my teeth to be this white, but don't know if it is safe to be using this every day.

Post 3

I have a friend who ordered some cosmetic tooth whitening products online. The cost was much cheaper than what she would have paid professionally, so she thought she was getting a great deal.

They did a good job of making her teeth whiter, but over time really caused some damage to her teeth. The longer she used the products, the more sensitive her teeth became.

When she finally made an appointment with her dentist he told her to stop using those products. She was afraid if she stopped, her teeth would get yellow again.

Her dentist told her to give her teeth a break and then come back to him and use products that were safe and professional. In the long run, she would have probably been better off using professional teeth whitening products from the beginning.

Post 2

I have tried several at home tooth whitening products and have had both good and bad results. When I say bad results I mean that I didn't see any change in my teeth.

I don't think that using a tooth whitening toothpaste or mouthwash does any good if you are already starting out with yellow teeth. I used these for 6 months and didn't notice any difference at all.

I did have good results using some of the tooth whitening strips. Even after a week, there was a noticeable difference in my teeth. It does take regular treatment though, because they don't stay that white on their own.

When I get compliments on my smile, I am encouraged to keep doing this. Once you get used to having white teeth, you want to make sure they stay that way.

Post 1

My husband drinks a lot of coffee and soda, and his teeth had become yellow and stained over time. His dentist recommended he try some professional teeth whitening.

He had some imprints done of his mouth and teeth, and made personalized trays for him to use at home. At his first visit, they treated his teeth and he noticed an immediate improvement, which was good motivation to keep doing it at home.

He was then sent home with some bleach and the tooth whitening trays to continue doing this at home on his own. If he was faithful at giving himself a treatment once a week, his teeth kept getting whiter.

He eventually got lazy and quit doing it and now his teeth are yellow again. He has all the products and materials to whiten his teeth at home, he just didn't keep up with it on a regular basis.

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