Different Types Of Teeth Whitening: How They Work


Bright white teeth are usually associated with someone being younger, confident and attractive. It gives one the confidence to laugh and smile without inhibitions. It’s no small wonder that the dental procedure is growing in popularity across the globe.

However, there are more than one type of teeth whitening, and maybe you’re fit to undergo one procedure more than the other. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the different types of teeth whitening and how they work to help you make an informed decision. Continue reading to know which type of teeth whitening treatment is for you.

What Is Teeth Whitening?

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Teeth whitening is a common cosmetic procedure. It involves applying a bleaching agent to the tooth surface to lighten its appearance. Most patients who find their yellow or stained teeth unappealing opt for teeth whitening procedure since it gives efficient and effective results Either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide is used for the procedure. Varying concentrations are available, depending on which type of Teeth whitening treatment you’ll undergo. However, only dental professionals can oversee the use of higher concentrations as they are knowledgeable and trained in handling the product without inflicting harm to the patient.

What Are The Different Methods Of Teeth Whitening?

There are several different ways of whitening one’s teeth. However, before going through the process, you should consult your dentist if you are a candidate for teeth whitening. The professional teeth whitening methods include in-chair treatments and take-home kits.


In-chair Teeth Whitening Treatments

An in-chair teeth whitening treatment is done at the clinic under the supervision of your dentist. It is a non-invasive treatment that takes around an hour per session. A highly concentrated bleaching agent is used during the procedure along with a special high-intensity blue light to improve the whitening effectivity of the bleaching solution. The entire procedure can take up to an hour, but the actual bleaching is done in 15 or 30-minute bursts.


Consequently, the results of this specific teeth whitening treatment show up quicker and are more drastic than any other available treatments.


Professional Take-home Teeth Whitening Kits

A patient can opt to have their teeth whitening treatment done at home using a professional take-home teeth whitening kit. They contain a bleaching agent and a customized dental tray. The bleaching agent comes in gel form. The custom tray is first filled with the bleaching gel as directed to use the kit. Then the dental tray is fixed to either the upper or lower teeth. You should only keep the tray on for a period that your dentist recommended to avoid complications or irritations.


The bleaching solution is less concentrated than what is used for in-chair treatments, as it is expected to stay on one’s teeth for longer. The custom mouth tray fits snugly over the patient’s teeth. A small gap is present between the custom tray and the actual teeth to accommodate the bleaching agent. The dentist will take an impression of your upper and lower teeth if you opt for a take-home teeth whitening kit. This impression will allow them to fit the tray to the contours of your teeth, ensuring even distribution of the whitening solution.


There is no drastic whitening that occurs with a take-home kit. Gradual tooth whitening will be observed, with the greatest results visible after 2 to 4 weeks of use.


As the demand for a dazzling white smile grows, other popular options for teeth whitening have become readily available on the market. These include everything from specialized toothpaste to whitening strips. Like the previously mentioned treatments, these options typically contain active ingredients that will work to lighten the colour of your teeth.


Whitening Toothpaste

Whitening toothpaste works to lighten teeth by targeting surface stains and extrinsic stains. These stains are most commonly caused by nicotine stains from smoking or the intake of dark-coloured or acidic food or drink. These kinds of toothpaste typically contain specialized abrasive components or peroxide to target the stains and dental plaque buildup. Blue covarine is a chemical found in some whitening toothpaste. A thin semi-transparent film of blue pigment forms on the tooth surface. It makes the tooth appear whiter in colour due to how the light interacts with the chemical.


With regular brushing, results from a whitening toothpaste can be observed in 2 to 6 weeks of use. Some kinds of whitening toothpaste may have immediate results due to the optical illusion brought about by chemicals like blue covarine, but these results are generally short-term. Although generally safe for use, one must take caution in using whitening toothpaste and mind the manufacturer’s recommendations in terms of frequency of use, amount to be used, and application.


Over-the-counter At-home Teeth Whitening Kits

At-home teeth whitening kits are commercially available in a wide range of bleach concentrations. They can follow the same procedure as professional take-home teeth whitening kits but usually contain a lower concentration of the bleaching agent. Additionally, the dental trays available in commercially available kits are not customized to your bite, so they may fit oddly. An ill-fitting dental tray can cause discomfort and exposure of soft tissue to the bleaching agent in the kit, which can cause sensitivity and irritation.


Whitening Strips

Whitening strips are quite popular for whitening teeth at home. The soft plastic strip contains a thin layer of bleaching agents like hydrogen peroxide. These are folded over the teeth and left for a specified amount of time.


There are certain precautions to remember when using commercial whitening strips. One should try to avoid whitening strips that list chlorine dioxide as the active ingredient, as this is a chemical oxidizer. Using that type of whitening strip runs the risk of eroding your tooth enamel and damaging your teeth. Like any other treatment, it is important to use products as instructed. Leaving a whitening strip on for too long or using them too frequently can cause long-term and sometimes irreversible damage.

Will Whitening My Teeth Damage My Enamel?

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The tooth enamel is the hardest and outermost layer of a tooth. Although this layer does come into direct contact with the active bleaching agent, enamel damage is not a significant risk during the teeth whitening treatment. The bleaching agent simply passes through the microtubules found on the porous enamel to lighten the colour of the underlying dentin layer. Although enamel damage is unlikely, one may experience temporary tooth sensitivity.

Does Teeth Whitening Hurt?

Traditional teeth whitening treatments should not hurt if properly done. On the other hand, one can experience some other common effects. Potential side effects of a teeth whitening treatment include:


Tooth sensitivity

The tooth whitening process may cause temporary tooth sensitivity to hot or cold food. This can be due to the inflammation of the tooth pulp or increased porosity of the tooth layers. Mild pulpitis or pulp inflammation can occur due to the increase in blood flow and pressure brought about by the penetration of bleaching agent molecules into deeper layers. With regard to increased porosity, this occurs due to the bleaching process. To penetrate into the dentin layer, the protective protein layer on the tooth surface must be stripped away. Typically, tooth sensitivity is temporary and resolves a few weeks after the treatment.


Soft tissue irritation

With the use of bleach, there is a risk of chemical burns, especially when soft tissue is exposed to the bleaching gel. This typically occurs when the gums come in contact with the bleach. This can lead to gingival irritation. Other soft tissue structures that can be affected include the gums, skin, and lips.

What Is The Most Effective Method To Whiten Teeth?

In terms of effectivity, no other teeth whitening method can top an in-chair teeth whitening treatment. These are usually done in a series of short appointments until the desired shade is reached. In some cases, one teeth whitening procedure can even whiten tooth colour by 2 to 8 shades lighter.

There is a minimized risk of soft tissue bleach exposure due to the use of a rubber dam or a similar device that shields the gums from the active bleaching agent. Uneven whitening is also less likely, thanks to the thorough cleaning that precedes the whitening treatment.

How Do I Naturally Whiten My Teeth?

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There are several natural methods to whiten teeth. These have varying levels of efficacy, and it is highly recommended that you discuss your intention to try these DIY whitening methods with your dentist prior to the treatment.


Oil Pulling

This folk remedy is commonly practised in India to purify the body of toxins and improve oral health. Oil is swished around in the mouth like mouthwash. This removes plaque-forming bacteria and prevents tooth discolouration. Although sunflower or sesame oil is more traditional, any oil can be used. In fact, coconut oil can become rather popular due to its pleasant taste and many health benefits.


Unfortunately, there is currently no scientific data that supports oil pulling as an effective way to whiten teeth. Some people who practice it do claim to notice their teeth being whiter after some time.


Apple Cider Vinegar

Often touted as a cure-all home remedy, apple cider vinegar has many popular uses. Some of these include managing acne to promoting weight loss. As a teeth whitener, it is used as a mouthwash in either a concentrated or diluted form. The main dental concern of apple cider vinegar used for teeth whitening lies in its corrosive nature. The acetic acid in vinegar is known to erode tooth enamel, especially in a concentrated form. With an average pH between 2.5 and 3.0, apple cider vinegar can significantly weaken tooth enamel with prolonged use.


Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is commonly made from slowly burned natural substances. These can include coconut shells, olive pits, and wood. It is a fine-grained powder with a deep black colour. It is activated by oxidation under extreme heat. Due to its high surface area, it is able to bind to toxins or odours. It is its ability to bind so easily that it gives people the impression that it may be effective in removing stains.


Although quite popularly linked to teeth whitening, no scientific evidence currently backs this claim. In fact, the abrasive texture may damage the tooth enamel over time if used to scrub the tooth surface.


Hydrogen Peroxide
Although a common active ingredient in both commercial and professional teeth whitening products, no scientific studies currently support the effectivity of hydrogen peroxide in whitening teeth when used alone to rinse out the mouth or brush the teeth.


An issue of safety can also be raised for this alternative. Although heavily diluted concentrations may be safe to use, the improper use of stronger concentrations can cause mild to severe gum irritation to chemical burns.

Is Baking Soda Good For Teeth Whitening?

Baking soda is a popular ingredient in commercial whitening toothpaste due to its natural whitening properties. Thanks to its abrasive properties, it is quite effective in removing stains on the surfaces of teeth. As a bonus, its alkaline properties also deter the growth of bacteria in the oral cavity.


Although there is limited evidence supporting the effectivity of baking soda lightening tooth colour when brushed directly on teeth, toothpaste formulations containing baking soda have been found to be more effective at whitening teeth than a standard toothpaste formulation. Efficacy is directly proportional to the concentration of the baking soda mixture. However, we still recommend that you discuss with your dentist your intentions of using baking soda as teeth whitener.

How Long Does Teeth Whitening Results Last?

Before undergoing treatment, it is important to remember that the results of teeth whitening are not permanent. They typically last a few months to a two years. Several factors can affect how long your teeth whitening results last. These include your diet and other lifestyle habits. Consuming acidic or dark-coloured food and drink can stain your teeth as easily as smoking tobacco. You’re typically advised to avoid these after your treatment to get the most out of your tooth whitening procedure.

How Much Does It Cost To Whiten Your Teeth By A Dentist?

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In-chair teeth whitening treatments can cost you \$260 or more per tooth. On the other hand, professional take-home teeth whitening kits from your dentist can cost you \$100 to \$500. These are pricier than commercial teeth whitening kits due to the stronger concentration of the bleaching agent available in the kit. Prices may vary across providers due to the equipment and bleaching agents used. You can ask visit Ellen Stirling Dental and ask about teeth whitening treatments during your consultation.

Final Thoughts

Although there are several teeth whitening options currently available, one must be discerning in choosing what method to use. It is always important to inform your dentist of any desire you may have about this cosmetic procedure. They may offer important dental care advice and insights that can help you determine the treatment that works for you.

Although the more expensive option, treatments done by your dentist can offer you the greatest results with the least risk to your dental health. Talk to our dentist at Ellen Stirling Dental today about getting a brighter, whiter smile. We offer teeth whitening treatments to help you achieve that confident smile.

Disclaimer – Use At Your Own Risk :- The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as advice for any individual case or situation. Any action you take upon the information on these blogs are strictly at your own risk. We will not be liable for any losses or damages in connection with the use of the information from these blogs.
Dr. Rachit Shah


Dr. Rachit Shah

Dr. Rachit Shah has a caring and holistic approach to your healthcare. He brings a gentle and modern approach to dentistry; one aimed to create a painless and anxiety-free experience whilst using conservative methods to create long-lasting and highly aesthetic smiles.

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