To Bleach or Not to Bleach

Post by: Gerarda on 16 Jul 2019

You are spoiled for choice if you choose to whiten your teeth. There are many approved products on the market both sold at a pharmacy and those available from your dentist. As long as you follow the directions carefully they are both safe. From the wide array of choices many teeth whiteners are fairly effective and do just as it says “on the tin”. You must remember though that it takes an extended period of time for teeth to become noticeably whiter using an over the counter product as it will not contain peroxide, the agent that actually bleaches teeth.

What are your teeth whitening options?

Whitening strips


Effectiveness: On average, you can expect to see results in about a week. Naturally this is individual and will depend on the level of teeth discoloration, the amount of teeth staining food and drink you consume and your level of oral hygiene.

Ease of use: Whitening strips are very easy to apply. One treatment is composed of two strips. Teeth whitening strips are good choices for those looking for a fast solution to enhance their smile for a special occasion, but if you are looking for more radical results something more long-lasting may be ideal.

Whitening toothpaste


Effectiveness: This appears to whiten teeth slightly by getting rid of stains such as those caused by drinking coffee/tea, smoking or eating tooth staining foods like curry, soy and ketchup. Whitening toothpastes, however, can’t change the natural color of your teeth or lighten a stain that goes deeper than a tooth’s surface. When used twice a day, whitening toothpastes can take anywhere from two to six weeks to make teeth appear whiter, therefore, it is not a dramatic change. Those whitening toothpastes that contain blue covarine can have an immediate effect as the paste adheres to the teeth giving the illusion of whiter teeth.

Ease of use: As one of the simplest options you use it no differently than you would your usual toothpaste. Keep in mind that whitening toothpastes typically contains abrasives that polish the teeth. As whitening toothpastes are typically designed to maximize cleaning and minimize wear on tooth enamel, remember to follow manufacturer recommendations.

If you’re considering using whitening toothpaste, look for a brand that has been approved by the FDA or the EU.

If you want a longer lasting effect and want your teeth to be whiter than toothpaste or whitening strips can deliver, then you might consider Home bleaching or In-office bleaching.

Home Bleaching

Effectiveness: The dentist would first clean your teeth as it is important to start with teeth that do not have calculous or stains. You maximize your bleaching in this way. The dentist then takes an impression of your teeth and uses it to make custom-made trays that fit only your teeth. The customized trays ensure that the bleaching material stays in contact with the teeth, which is necessary for maximum effect. It also prevents saliva from coming into contact with the bleaching material which can dilute it causing it to be less effective.

Ease of use: A small amount of bleaching material is placed in each tray which you then wear for 90 minutes over the span of a week or less, depending on how much lighter you want your teeth. Many people see a difference in their teeth after the first session, but the more you use the gel the lighter your teeth will become. You usually need to bleach for a week or less.

We suggest that you do the bleaching after you have brushed and flossed for the evening and know that you are not going to be eating or drinking anything before going to sleep.

In-office Bleaching

Effectiveness: As above, the dentist needs to be clean the teeth before the bleaching procedure, after which a protective material is placed on the gum line to protect the neck of the tooth from becoming sensitive. Whitening gel is placed on the teeth and then activated by plasma light (a very intense blue light) to help break down the stain in the micro porosities on the teeth.

Ease of use: This is done in a single visit.

Remember teeth whitening is not a permanent fix to lighten teeth. Over time, teeth will become darker again as a normal progression of aging and as a normal process of living. We will continue to eat and drink teeth staining foods like soy, tea, coffee, red wine and curries to name a few. When that happens all you need to do is to repeat the teeth whitening process to bring the teeth back to the color you like.