Teeth whitening is a process that must be done periodically to remove stains which discolor teeth.
These stains could be extrinsic or intrinsic. A bleaching agent – usually hydrogen peroxide is used to make teeth a few shades lighter.
Extrinsic stains are caused due to the food we eat or drink and smoking.
This forms on the outer layers of our teeth and can be removed by regular and good oral hygiene and teeth bleaching.
Intrinsic stains are caused inside the teeth due to age, trauma or exposure to minerals and fluoride.
What is Teeth Whitening Gel – Its Benefits and Issues
Teeth whitening gel is made using hydrogen peroxide.
It is applied on the tooth’s surface to whiten it. Whitening gels are used along with other appliances or simply brushed on teeth.
A dentist may use a whitening gel along with a mouth tray.
Each tray is custom made to suit the wearer and fit both the upper and lower teeth. Both the mouth tray and gel can be used at home to continue the bleaching process.
The dentist will give you sufficient teeth whitening gel usually made with hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide with a 10-22% concentration.
This can be injected on the tray using a tube or syringe and the tray fitted on the teeth.
The tray may be kept on the teeth either overnight or for a few hours. The duration depends on the concentration of the teeth whitening gel.
Using teeth whitening gel along with a custom-made tray offers uniform teeth whitening and there could be less gum irritation.
However, it is quite expensive ($300 or more) compared to OTC products which use gel.
There could be temporary gum irritation or sensitivity in which case report this to your dentist.
When used in the right way, home-based teeth whitening gels are safe and cause very few side effects.
However, always consult your doctor before starting any home based whitening treatment and do not over use any product.
Whitening gels can also be applied directly on the surface of the teeth using a small brush. These peroxide-based gels can be applied twice daily for 14 days.
You can see initial results after a few days and it could last for at least 4 months.
The difference between using teeth whitening gel at home and by a dentist is usually the concentration.
Dentists could use 15%-43% hydrogen peroxide gel concentration while home-based whitening products may contain only 10-22% carbamide peroxide gel which is equal to only 3% hydrogen peroxide gel.
This means that in-office treatment can be quicker and more long-lasting.
A combination of both professional and home-based teeth whitening can achieve even 12-15 shades of whiter teeth.
Custom-built trays can be reused and all that you need is to replace the teeth whitening gels.
These refills are easily available and come in different strengths and quantities in pre-filled syringes.
Precautions while using Teeth whitening gel
Teeth whitening gel could cause sensitivity or gum inflammation.
In such cases, using lower concentrations of the gel or wearing the mouth apparatus for a shorter period could reduce the side effects. Do not have too high expectations.
Highly stained teeth will take longer to lose their color and no bleaching gel will give you an absolutely brilliant white smile.
If you have fillings or other restorative work is done on your teeth, if you have sensitive teeth, allergies, worn enamel or other teeth problems, if you are under 16 or are pregnant, consult your dentist before opting for any teeth whitening gel-based product.
Popular Brands of Teeth Whitening Gel
There are different brands of teeth whitening gel which can be used on their own or in conjunction with other whitening kits.
Select a kit that allows some level of customization of the mouthpiece. This allows better whitening. Read online reviews or get the opinion of friends who have used similar whitening products.
If you do experience any kind of side effects, stop using the gel and consult your dentist at once.
Some teeth whitening gels contain sodium perborate and not hydrogen peroxide.
This is ideal for those with sensitive teeth. You can even buy teeth whitening kits.
A starter kit, for example, can contain a pre-treatment liquid, tooth swab to apply the gel, teeth whitening gel in a 10ml syringe and 1 set of arch moulds.
Teeth whitening gels can be purchased online or at the nearest drugstore. The following are some of the products available on Amazon.com.
- ‘Opalescence 35% Mint Teeth Whitening Gel from Ultradent’ contains 35% gel concentration. 4 tubes cost $15.79. While some find it too strong, other customers rate it as an excellent product that works just as well as products from the dentist and is much cheaper.
- ‘Watts Power Pro Teeth Whitening Gels’ comes in two flavors – citrus and mint. You get a pack of 4 syringes along with 1 rebalancing gel which can be used for aftercare purposes.
- ‘Teeth Whitening Gel by SportingSmiles’ offers four 10ml syringes with a thick viscous gel that can be used along with mouth trays. The syringes are filled with Carbamide peroxide and also contains a shade guide to check how lighter your teeth become.
You can read all about these and other products and check to compare prices before purchasing them.