If you yearn for a brighter smile, you might be considering one of the many tooth whitening kits available over the counter at drugstores and chain stores. These products come in a variety of forms, including stick-on strips, dissolving strips and gels, and tooth-shaped trays that you fill with gel before placing on your teeth for a recommended period of time.
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- LASTS 12 MONTHS & BEYOND
- Use once a day for 30 minutes
At Home, Teeth Whitening Kits Can Significantly Whiten Some People’s Teeth
Most of us have to spend hours at the dentist each year to have coffee stains scrubbed from our teeth, with the help of those scary looking scrapers and machines that seem like they are removing half the enamel.
It, therefore, seems hard to believe that simply applying some products from a kit at home would be able to make your teeth sparkle. Groom+Style’s favorite top 7 teeth whitening solutions. From 2 hour to 30-day kits, quick touch-up to professional grade options, we have tried them all. If you still have questions then please contact us directly via email, or via the comment section below, to ask our team’s advice.
Gum Irritation and at Home Teeth Whitening
A word of caution, when using teeth whitening solutions that place the whitening gel (which in most cases contains Peroxide) in a tray (such as the Rembrandt, GLO Science or AuraGlow). Be careful to only place enough gel to cover the teeth (keep the gel away from the gums – and wipe off any excess gel with a cotton bud) and only apply the product for the recommended period of time.
In the quest to achieve great results it is tempting to overapply the gel and to keep the guard in place for extended periods of time. Doing so, however, increases the risk of gum damage which, although temporary, is quite uncomfortable – trust us we know!
When They Work
Home tooth whitening treatments usually rely on the chemicals hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide—which releases hydrogen peroxide—to bleach some of the discolorations that can build up over time in the outer layer of tooth enamel.
These tooth whitening products can effectively lighten tooth stains caused by smoking and highly pigmented foods and drinks such as coffee, tea, cola, and red wine, according to Jay W. Friedman, D.D.S., M.P.H., a consumer healthcare advocate and dental adviser to Consumer Reports.
Most home tooth whitening products will leave teeth one to two shades whiter based on a 16-shade tooth bleaching scale when used as directed, according to a 2014 review published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Dental Practice.
When They Don’t
As good as home tooth whitening kits can be at tackling stains on the enamel that covers teeth, they are less effective against some other kinds of discoloration.
For example, tooth enamel normally thins with age, so dentin—the hard tissue under the enamel, which can be gray, brown, or blue in tone—may begin to show through. Keep in mind that both home tooth whitening and dentist-office whitening only work on natural teeth. So if you have caps, crowns, veneers, dentures, or white fillings, you’ll see no difference in those parts of your smile.
Safety and Side Effects
When used as directed, our experts say, home tooth whitening kits are safe.
But it’s worth checking in with your dentist first to rule out oral health issues that should be addressed. “Whitening with an unfilled cavity could be painful,” Hewlett notes. In addition, be aware that home whitening can cause uncomfortable—but temporary—side effects.
“Some users develop gum irritation, especially if whitening strips or other products are in too much contact with gums,” says Hewlett. “And most people experience a little tooth sensitivity.”
If sensitivity occurs, consider skipping a day in between use of your home kit. Avoiding extremely cold and hot foods and drinks during whitening can also keep you more comfortable. And don’t use at-home kits more often than recommended. Doing otherwise can increase the likelihood of irritation and sensitivity.
Getting the Most From Home Tooth Whitening
Which type of home whitening product is most effective? It’s unclear.
A review of studies, published in the journal Clinical Oral Investigations, found products containing carbamide peroxide worked only slightly better at whitening than products containing hydrogen peroxide. (And see what our experts say about whitening toothpaste.)
When it comes to highly pigmented foods and drinks, be aware that in one study at least, cola caused even more staining in freshly whitened teeth than coffee.
“Cola should be avoided because it is an unhealthy drink—too much sugar,” Friedman says. “It stains the teeth and also causes erosion of the enamel due to its acidic content.”