123Dentist Answers your questions

At-Home & In-Office Teeth Whitening

Various methods to lighten the shade of teeth, requiring either single treatments or multiple applications.

Having a brighter smile is a goal the majority of Canadians share. Teeth whitening products help your smile stay shiny and bright. Dentists typically offer a variety of whitening systems at different price points, both in-office and for at-home use.

Factors that Impact the Colour of the Teeth

The teeth tend to darken and change colour naturally over time. In addition to aging, there are several activities and products that can increase surface staining, including:

  • Smoking and tobacco use
  • Certain types of food and drink, such as coffee and red wine
  • Trauma to a tooth
  • Medications

Makeup and natural skin tones can also impact how the colour of the teeth is perceived. For example, darker makeup or skin tones tends to create an effect whereby teeth look whiter regardless of their actual colour.

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Types of Teeth Whiteners

There are two primary ways teeth can be whitened: Using surface whiteners or using special bleaching products.

Surface whiteners can be effective at removing surfaces stains, and usually come in the form of toothpastes or chewing gums. They contain tiny abrasives that remove stains from the teeth.

Tooth whitening using special bleaching products is another option. Bleaching products for teeth contain hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. While surface whiteners can only remove teeth staining, bleach can change the colour of the tooth itself. It’s important to consult with your dentist before using these products because not all discolourations will respond equally to the treatment. For example, teeth with a yellow tint often respond better to treatments than teeth with a brown tint. If whitening does not work, other solutions such as crowns or veneers may be an option.

Depending on the product tooth bleaching product your dentist recommends, you will apply the product in one of three ways:

  • Using a special toothpaste containing the bleaching product
  • Wearing a custom mouth tray that contains the product for a specific amount of time each day
  • Applying the product to your teeth and using applied heat or light to activate the product

Be sure to consult with your dentist about the whitening solution that will work best for you and your health. Whitening using products recommended by your dentist is safe and effective, but may come with a few mild side effects. Typical side effects from treatment include tooth sensitivity or irritation of the gums. These side effects tend to be short-lived, but they may require you to take a break from the treatment to avoid further discomfort.

Over-the-Counter versus Dentist Whitening Agents

The greatest difference between over-the-counter and dentist-provided teeth whitening products is the level of peroxide solution in the product. Typically, over-the-counter whitening products that you can purchase at your local drugstore have low amounts of peroxide. This means that treatments will take longer to have an effect, and may not be as effective overall as professional products.

Meanwhile, the products your dentist provides in-office or as an at-home treatment have higher amounts of peroxide, which means stain removal and bleaching will occur at a faster rate.

Take-Home Teeth Whitening Kits

Most dentists offer a range of home whitening kits to their patients. At home kits tend to be more cost-effective because they are products you apply on your own. Your dentist will advise you on how often and for how long to apply the product. For example, you may be instructed to apply peroxide gel to the teeth for 30 minutes each day for one week. Treatment plans usually last a few days to a few weeks.

There are various methods for whitening your teeth at home, including both surface whiteners and bleaching products. Teeth whitening products that you take home from the dentist may include:

  • Whitening toothpastes
  • Whitening pens
  • Whitening kits, including custom mouth trays and bleaching products

In-Office Teeth Whitening Services

A popular option for patients looking for fast and effective teeth whitening is known as “zoom whitening.” This teeth whitening procedures is provided in dental clinics and uses lasers to speed up the whitening process.

The dentist or dental hygienist begins by taking a mold of your teeth to create a custom tray that will hold the solution. Then, the hydrogen peroxide solution is applied to the teeth. A blue plasma light is shone into the mouth to activate the bleach. These treatments are usually done in short increments of about 15 minutes each session, and patients may come back for several sessions to see results. Like other whitening solutions, the results can vary from patient to patient and you may experience sensitive teeth after the treatment.

Find Teeth Whitening Options Near You

Most Canadian dental clinics offer multiple options for in-office and take-home teeth whitening. Find the 123Dentist dental clinic near you to learn more.

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