Are home teeth whitening products safe?

 Are home teeth whitening products safe?

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White teeth and a bright smile is surely desired by everyone. Yellow teeth can make you a bit uncomfortable while talking or smiling. You must have heard of home teeth whitening kits and you are maybe thinking of using them and maybe you are lost to choose between the different types of products that all promise you fast and permanent results. But is it safe to use these products at home? 

How do teeth whitening products work? 

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The teeth surface can be stained after using certain foods for a long time (Coffee, tea, red wine, tobacco, soda…), those types of stains are called chromogens. They usually stay on the surface of the teeth enamel and are therefore called extrinsic discoloration. But not all teeth stains appear after using food. Some other types of stains can be born with like Fluorosis and Tetracycline dyschromia; these stains are deep inside the tooth structure and therefore called intrinsic discoloration. 

All home whitening kits contain Hydrogen Peroxide or Carbamide peroxide, these chemicals attack the stain chromogens, dissolving the compounds, and bleaching the stains away. 

Types of home teeth whitening products

1. Tray based teeth whiteners 

Teeth whitening trays are a flexible material that molds to your teeth, allowing the whitening agent to settle on and between your teeth surface. The best kind of trays are custom trays that your dentist makes especially for you so that they will fit perfectly. Standard trays might not fit perfectly to your mouth. Some trays are pre-filled with the whitening agent, while others come with syringes of whitening gel that can be dispensed as needed by the user. Most systems will include a full set of single use trays; you use two trays per day, one for your bottom teeth and one for your top teeth for the number of days that instructions advise.

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2. Whitening strips.

Whitening strips are made from a flexible material, shaped to fit over the visible areas of the teeth. It is coated with  hydrogen peroxide and an adhesive to keep them firmly in place and it is worn for 30 minutes for up to two weeks. Many companies use this technique like Crest©, Oral-B©, Meijer©

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Crest teeth whitening strips guide


3. Whitening toothpastes and rinses.

To remove chromogens, whitening toothpaste typically includes:

Special abrasives that polish the teeth.

Hydrogen Peroxide that dissolve stains.

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Some tooth pastes contain blue covarine which is a chemical that gives only the illusion of whiter teeth. Whitener tooth pastes are used twice a day for up to 6 weeks.

Side effects of Teeth Whitening

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Some negative effects might appear after teeth whitening like: 

Teeth sensitivity: teeth may become more sensitive following teeth whitening. The sensitivity can diminish normally with time or after your dentists recommend potassium nitrate and sodium fluoride gel application.

Gum irritation: the bleaching and whitening agents can cause irritation if they touch your teeth gum when applying.

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An irritated gum after teeth whitening


Are Home Teeth Whitening Products Safe?

What makes professional teeth whitening safe it is that its done by a professional dentist who chooses his techniques and products carefully.

 The Market is full of different brands of home teeth whitening kits, made of different components and coming from different origins, some of these products don’t go under a deep enough investigation and are therefore untrustworthy. That is why it is important to look for the origin of your product and see if it doesn’t include any allergic or dangerous components and make sure that your product hasn’t expired.

In general, all teeth whitening products contain Hydrogen peroxide or Carbamide peroxide or Hydrogen in amounts between 10% to 50%. The more Peroxide your product contains, the better whitening results you will get, but also the less safe it is for your teeth and gum. 

In this chart we explain to you how the safety of the whitening kit changes with the amount of peroxide it contains. 

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#1= effects are minimum

#5= effects are maximum

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Teeth whitening products,safety vs effectiveness rank.


In general, most researches show that the best balance of safety Vs whitening effect are found using ~16% amount of Carbamide peroxide. Bleaching efficacy of at home 16% carbamide peroxide. A long-term clinical follow-up study 2020 )

 If you have any doubts about a certain product, do not hesitate to ask the opinion of your dentist.

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Teeth Whitening Safety Tips 

1-Always consult your dentist first.

Even if you decided to do the home whitening technique, you should consult your dentist for a check up to see if you have cavities or gingivitis that might cause problems if not treated. A mouth cleaning is also recommended before whitening.

And it is also a chance to ask the opinion of your dentist about which Technique/product is good for your case.

2- Choose your kit well.

  • All home whitening kits have Carbamide peroxide in amounts between 10% to 20%. For a first try, choose a product with low amounts and then choose higher levels progressively. 

Many researches show that the best results came after using 16% Carbamide peroxide.

  • Make sure your product doesn’t contain any allergic components and that it’s not close to be expired.

3- Follow the instructions carefully.

Follow the instructions well, make sure you respect the time of gel application and you mix in the right amounts. The whitening agent can cause gum irritation and teeth sensitivity if not used well.

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4- Avoid Soda, Lemon and acid foods for the next 6 hours.

5-Postpone whitening if pregnant or nursing.

6- Don’t whiten your teeth continuously

Maintaining teeth whitening results.

You should keep in mind that teeth whitening is not permanent and you cannot whiten your teeth for a permanent basis. That’s why you should maintain the results and avoid doing the procedure much. 

Maintain a good oral hygiene.

Avoid coloring foods like coffee, tea, red wine, soda.

resources: 
-https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3433161/
-https://www.researchgate.net/publication/264393077_Medication-related_tooth_discoloration_A_review
-https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jerd.12204
-https://theprofessionaldentist.com/2020/11/how-to-prevent-and-treat-teeth-decay-or.html
-https://theprofessionaldentist.com/2020/09/why-are-my-teeth-bleeding-gingivitis.html

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