Home Life Tips Teeth Whitening Kits: What You Need to Know Before You Buy
Before buying teeth whitening kits, it’s important to know that the results can vary significantly depending on the one you choose.

Teeth Whitening Kits: What You Need to Know Before You Buy

by Dr George Connell
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Unfortunately, some of the best things in life are the worst when it comes to teeth staining. Take your morning coffee or evening glass of red wine, for example. These seemingly harmless things can leave your teeth dull and discolored.

Thank goodness for teeth whitening kits, right?

While home teeth whitening kits are certainly appealing, it’s essential to do your research:

What differentiates one teeth whitening kit from another? Are the ingredients safe? What are the potential pitfalls? And how much can I expect to pay?

Discovering the answers to these questions will help you decide which whitening treatments are right for you.

Ready to find out? Here’s the lowdown on at-home teeth whitening.

Do Teeth Whitening Kits Really Work?

Yes — but before you rush out to buy, it’s important to know the results can vary significantly depending on the kit you choose.

Most of the whitening formulas you can buy from the supermarket or pharmacy use lower-grade bleaching agents like sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and sodium chlorite. On the other hand, professional teeth whitening kits by dentists use more active and powerful ingredients, such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.

Even if you do find teeth whitening kits online or in the supermarket containing hydrogen peroxide, the percentage will be much lower than the at-home teeth whitening kits from your dentist. This is because regulations limit the percentage of active ingredients used in non-professional teeth whitening products.

It’s also important to note that at-home teeth whitening kits from the dentist take into consideration the condition of your teeth before treatment. The trays are custom-made, ensuring they fit like a glove and the professional-grade solution gets placed evenly over your pearly whites for the best result.

So, while an online or store-bought solution may help to whiten your teeth a little, you certainly won’t see the same results as you would from your dentist’s teeth whitening kit.

Custom-made trays from the dentist, fit like a glove and the professional-grade solution gets placed evenly over your teeth for the best result.

Professional teeth whitening kits by dentists use more active and powerful ingredients, such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.

What are the Different Types of Teeth Whitening Solutions?

When it comes to at-home teeth whitening, your options range from strips and pens to LED lights and trays. Here’s a rundown on each.

Teeth Whitening Trays

Arguably the most effective choice for at-home teeth whitening is the gel and mouthguard-like tray.

The trays are filled with bleaching gel and placed over the top and bottom teeth for a recommended length of time. If you visit your dentist for your whitening trays, they’ll be custom-made to fit your teeth. Plus, you’ll be given a higher concentration bleaching solution.

Whitening kits bought online or over-the-counter either use a one-size-fits-all tray or a DIY moldable tray (which you dip in boiling water to soften and then fit to your teeth). These can be uncomfortable and result in uneven coverage of the bleaching gel across your teeth. For the best (and safest) outcome, you must follow the instructions carefully.

LED Teeth Whitening Lights

Some teeth whitening kits include an LED light device — either handheld or built-in to the mouth trays. The LED technology activates the bleaching gel. However, results are dependent on the correct light absorbing compounds being present in the gel.

While LED light may help speed up the whitening process, at-home LED kits don’t come with the protective barrier your dentist uses over your gums to prevent damage. Another downside to this DIY whitening method is that it whitens teeth slowly compared to dentist-grade whitening.

Some teeth whitening kits include an LED light device — either handheld or built-in to the mouth trays.

LED light may help speed up the whitening process, however these at-home kits don’t have a protective barrier to use over your gums to prevent damage.

Teeth Whitening Pens

Whitening pens are small brushes filled with bleaching gel that you brush over the front surface of your teeth. They can be useful for touch-ups and maintenance but aren’t applauded for stand-out results.

While you may see a slight difference at first, the gel doesn’t penetrate the tooth’s deeper layers and is quickly diluted by saliva. So, while pens may be an affordable and convenient option, the overall result is less effective and wears off quicker.

Teeth Whitening Strips

Teeth whitening strips are thin pieces of flexible plastic coated on one side with low concentration bleaching gel. Unlike pens, teeth whitening strips give your teeth prolonged exposure to the whitening solution.

Typically, you wear the strips once or twice a day for 30 minutes at a time for up to two weeks.

What are the Dangers of Home Teeth Whitening Kits

There’s no denying a brighter, whiter smile is appealing. But before you dive into that DIY teeth whitening kit, let’s chat through some of the potential risks…

A dentist will assess your teeth and gums and help you find the best whitening treatment for your specific smile.

For the best and safest results, talk to your dentist before embarking on your quest for brighter pearly whites.

Not all Teeth Can be Whitened

Here’s the thing: not all stains can be removed by teeth whitening kits.

Tetracycline staining or discolouration caused by antibiotics won’t respond to DIY or at-home teeth whitening kits. Fillings, crowns, and veneers can’t be whitened either and may even appear darker or more discoloured if the surrounding teeth are whitened.

Likewise, chipped teeth, cracked teeth and cavities can not only hinder the whitening process but, when coated with a bleaching solution, may also cause teeth sensitivity and serious pain.

Safety is Not Guaranteed

If you buy a tooth whitening kit online, from the supermarket or pharmacy, it may not contain the safest ingredients for your teeth — especially for long-term use.

Some bleaching agents can erode your tooth enamel, damage your gums and burn your skin. Plus, some online teeth whitening kits have even been found to contain concentrations of bleaching agents that far exceed legal limits for home use.

Results May be Short Lived

Yes, the reviews may be glowing, but this doesn’t necessarily mean the at-home teeth whitening kit you choose will produce the Hollywood smile you desire. Even if you do achieve a whiter, brighter smile… the results may not last long.

Topical teeth whitening products like whitening pens will give you quick results but the effects will wear off just as fast. Other teeth whitening kits with trays or strips tend to only whiten teeth for a few months.

How Much Do Teeth Whitening Kits Cost?

Teeth whitening strips and pens are among the most affordable teeth whitening treatments. Strips range in price from about $12 to $70 and pens fall in the range of $20 to $45. But look at it this way: if you’re forking out regularly and not seeing the desired results, are you really saving in the long run?

Store-bought or online teeth whitening kits start at around $50 but can cost as much as $150, depending on the contents and the concentration of the bleaching agent. In comparison, take-home teeth whitening kits from the dentist, complete with custom-trays, can cost around $200 to $400.

Professional, in-chair teeth whitening at the dentist is the most expensive option. The average price can vary between $500 to $1,000. However, this delivers instant and lasting results, along with the support and guidance of your dentist.

How Can I Whiten My Teeth Safely and Effectively?

For the best and safest results, talk to your dentist before embarking on your quest for brighter pearly whites. They will be able to assess your teeth and gums and help you find the best whitening treatment for your smile.

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