We all love to have our teeth pearly white.


So, how do you get your teeth whiter?


Let us look at some of the common teeth whitening products and methods out there.

Over-the-counter products

There is a plethora of over-the-counter whitening toothpaste, gels, and strips with wide-ranging claims on their whitening ability. Whitening toothpaste often contains mild abrasive substances such as silica that may remove surface stains only. Some products have a low concentration of hydrogen peroxide with little or no whitening effect as the concentration is inadequate or the contact time with teeth is too short.


Professional teeth whitening 

What is the active ingredient?

Hydrogen peroxide is the active agent in professional whitening gels. They are available as either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide (breaks down into hydrogen peroxide). Hydrogen peroxide is a strong oxidising agent that diffuses into the tooth and breaks down the staining molecules within the tooth into smaller, less pigmented molecules.

The concentration of the gel and contact time with the teeth are critical to the desired outcome. The higher the percentage of concentration of hydrogen peroxide, the more pronounced the results. Usually, gels containing more than 6% hydrogen peroxide produce a noticeable whitening effect. Secondly, the gel needs to be kept on the teeth for the required time for the whitening effect to take place.

Professional whitening can be done either in the dental office or in your own home.

In-Office whitening uses a higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide, usually 18 to 38 percent. It usually involves placing a special protective barrier to protect the gums before the application of whitening gels. The results are immediate. There is an increased chance of post-whitening teeth sensitivity due to the high concentration of peroxide.

Professionally issued take-home whitening involves wearing special clear trays filled with whitening gels to brighten your teeth. The first step is taking an impression of your teeth to make a customised tray for your teeth. These trays allow intimate contact between the whitening gel and teeth. Usually, they are worn short as thirty minutes or longer as overnight, depending on the strength and type of gel used. The incidence of sensitivity is low.


Things to know before teeth whitening

The whitening effect varies significantly between individuals. While there is a general whitening effect, some may need to whiten for longer to get the desired result.

Any defective fillings, tooth decay, and severe tooth wear need to be treated to avoid unforeseen consequences.

Any gum disease and extreme sensitivity teeth need to be carefully assessed before whitening.

The crowns, veneers and previous restoration cannot be whitened. Sometimes, they need to be replaced after whitening.

Certain stained teeth such as tetracycline-stained teeth and root canal-treated teeth will not respond to whitening and require other means to achieve white teeth.


Is teeth whitening your teeth bad for the teeth?

Generally, teeth whitening has no impact on your teeth long term. Mild sensitivity to hot or cold liquids may occur during whitening.


How long do the results last?

It’s not permanent.

Usually, 6 -12 months. It depends on diet and lifestyle. If you are a smoker or regular coffee, tea, and red wine drinker, it may not be long-lasting.


What should I do before teeth whitening?

The first step is to have a dental check-up for the following reasons:

– to ensure that your teeth and gums are healthy

– remove all the surface stains and tartar build-up

– assess whether teeth whitening is going give the result you are looking after