Everything you need to know about teeth whitening kits
We’d all love a whiter smile, right?
And in the pursuit of brighter pearly whites, you’ve probably been thinking about teeth whitening kits. After all, they seem to be *everywhere* these days — from our dentists’ offices to our Instagram feeds and even on our supermarket shelves.
There’s certainly something alluring about whitening your teeth from the comfort of your own home, but don’t dive into that DIY kit just yet!
There are a few important things to know before buying at-home teeth whitening kits.
So, we’re here to share our advice on the most effective and safest way to whiten your smile. (Hint: you won’t find it on the supermarket shelves!)
Do teeth whitening kits work?
Ahh, the million-dollar question: do teeth whitening kits actually work?
In short, yes. But the results will vary greatly between different kits.
Some teeth whitening kits will promise the world and only deliver a slight improvement in the shade of your teeth. Meanwhile, the professional teeth whitening systems you get from your dentist (like our Zoom Whitening kits) can make your teeth up to 8 shades whiter.
So, if you take away one piece of wisdom from this article, it should be this:
Not all teeth whitening kits are created equal.
Yep. It may come as no surprise that the teeth whitening kit you’ve seen at your local supermarket is nowhere near as effective (or safe) as a take-home teeth whitening system from your dentist.
Well, there are a few factors that influence the effectiveness of teeth whitening kits, including:
The ingredients used
The type of whitening system (i.e. LED lights, trays, strips or pens)
The condition of your teeth prior to treatment
Let’s take a closer look at each of these…
The ingredients used in teeth whitening kits
In Australia, it is only legal for dentists to obtain and use the more effective, higher concentrated bleaching agents like carbamide peroxide. Most dentists will use hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide for teeth whitening. Both of these ingredients are safe and are proven to effectively break down stains.
Many teeth whitening kits you see online or in the supermarket only have around 18% of the active ingredient that makes your teeth white. While it can help to whiten your teeth a little, you certainly won’t see the same results as you would from your dentist’s teeth whitening kit.
The different types of teeth whitening kits
There are a few different types of at-home teeth whitening systems, including trays, LED lights, strips and pens.
Teeth whitening trays
At-home whitening trays are filled with a bleaching gel and worn over the top of your teeth for a certain period of time. If you get your teeth whitening trays from your dentist, they will be custom-made to fit your teeth. Most online teeth whitening kits use one-size-fits-all trays which can be uncomfortable and result in uneven coverage of the bleaching gel across your teeth. With both, you must ensure that you follow the instructions carefully to achieve the best results and use the product safely.
LED teeth whitening lights
If you have professional in-chair teeth whitening, your dentist will likely use an LED light. You may have seen similar LED teeth whitening kits available online. While both options help to speed up the whitening process, at-home LED kits do not come with the protective barrier your dentist uses over your gums to prevent damage. Many of the at-home LED whitening kits also use a combination of sodium bicarbonate and sodium chlorite. There isn’t a lot of research to support whether these ingredients are safe when used together — especially in combination with an LED light. You should also bear in mind that the LED light itself may not have been tested properly nor have any long-term safety data.
Teeth whitening strips
Teeth whitening strips are made of thin plastic, coated with bleaching gel on one side. You apply the gel side to the front surface of your teeth. However, you must be very careful not to apply the strip over your gumline as the bleaching gel can irritate your gums. You also need to ensure you only leave the strips on your teeth for the recommended time to avoid damage.
Teeth whitening pens
Whitening pens are small brushes filled with bleaching gel that you brush over the front surface of your teeth. While you may see a noticeable difference at first, the gel does not penetrate the tooth’s deeper layers, meaning the overall result is less effective and wears off quicker.
How does the condition of your teeth affect whitening treatments?
Unfortunately, not all stains can be removed by teeth whitening kits. Tetracycline staining or discolouration caused by antibiotics will not respond to DIY or at-home teeth whitening kits. Fillings, crowns and veneers cannot be whitened either and may even appear darker if the surrounding teeth are bleached. In these cases, you would need to discuss other options with your dentist.
If you have any chips or cracks in your teeth, your dentist will recommend that these are fixed before undertaking any whitening treatment. Similarly, if you’re not 100% happy with your smile and are considering teeth straightening options like Invisalign, you may want to complete this treatment first. Your dentist can even help you with a complete smile makeover, where you can combine your teeth whitening with other cosmetic dentistry treatments to create your dream smile.
Hot tip: Take all teeth whitening kit reviews with a (big) grain of salt
A quick Google will bring up thousands of articles on the best teeth whitening kits — with thousands of reviews to match. You’ve probably also seen hordes of Instagram influencers and celebrities singing the praises of their “favourite” teeth whitening systems.
But beware: these reviews often don’t give you the full picture of the product. Many teeth whitening companies also offer incentives for people to share reviews on their products so keep in mind that their feedback may be biased.
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Teeth whitening kits are perfectly safe when used under the guidance of a professional dentist. This is because dentists know how to perform tooth bleaching in a way that does not damage or harm the tooth enamel or surrounding tissues and gums. Your dentist will give you precise directions on how to use your at-home teeth whitening kit to ensure you achieve the best results in the safest way possible.
On the other hand, it is not so safe to use DIY teeth whitening kits without dentist supervision. In fact, it can even be dangerous.
The dangers of whitening your teeth without dentist supervision
You may not be using the safest ingredients
If you buy a tooth whitening kit online or from the supermarket, they may not contain the safest ingredients for your teeth — especially for long term use. If used incorrectly, some bleaching agents can erode your tooth enamel, damage your gums and burn your skin. Some online teeth whitening kits that ship to Australia have even been found to contain concentrations of bleaching agents that exceed legal limits in our country.
One size *never* fits all
When you get a teeth whitening kit from your dentist, you’ll receive custom-made trays. These trays are moulded to fit your teeth perfectly, meaning you’ll get even coverage across all of your teeth. Plus, there’s less chance of the bleaching agent damaging your gums or surrounding tissues. With DIY kits, you create your “custom tray” by placing it in boiling water then moulding it onto your teeth. This method is nowhere near as precise as the one your dentist uses and may leave you with gaps in your trays. This means you’ll have less even coverage and may result in patchy bleaching.
The treatment may not be effective for your teeth
Since DIY teeth whitening kits are not personalised, the instructions for use will be general and may not be suitable for the staining or discolouration of your teeth. When you get your teeth whitening kit from your dentist, they will be able to determine the best treatment for your staining and the correct shade for your teeth. They’ll also be able to help you prevent and manage any side effects of the whitening treatment.
You won’t know if you have any underlying issues that can affect your results
Your dentist will always undertake a proper check-up to assess your teeth and gums before starting any teeth whitening treatment. This allows them to catch any issues like gum disease, chipped teeth, cracked teeth or cavities that will not only hinder the whitening process but can also cause you serious pain and sensitivity when using tooth bleaching agents.
How long does at-home teeth whitening last?
While many teeth whitening kits bought online or from the supermarket claim to give you a whiter, brighter smile… the results won’t last too long.
Topical products like whitening pens will give you quick results but the effects will wear off just as fast. Other teeth whitening kits with trays or strips, will only keep your teeth whiter for a few months. Many LED whitening kits will recommend that you use the light and gel once a week to maintain your whiter smile. But the long-term effects of this are still unknown and there may be a chance that this could cause damage to your teeth and mouth.
But all is not lost! You’ll see much longer-lasting results with a professional teeth whitening kit from your dentist. With our Zoom Whitening treatment, your bright new smile should last between 12 to 24 months.
How can I prevent my teeth from staining after I’ve used my whitening kit?
Once you’ve got a whiter smile, you’ll want it to stay bright and brilliant for as long as possible, right?
The good news is that it’s easy to make a few lifestyle tweaks to preserve your pearly whites.
We recommend that you buy yourself a reusable straw and use it to drink any dark coloured beverages, such as coffee, tea, red wine, soft drinks and especially those turmeric lattes or smoothies! This will ensure the main stain-offenders bypass your front teeth and keep your smile whiter for longer.
While you certainly don’t need to cut any foods out, you should be vigilant about how often you eat stain-inducing foods and try to manage your intake. Of course, regular brushing, flossing and dental check-up and clean appointments will also help you get the best out of your treatment for longer.
How much do teeth whitening kits from the dentist cost?
The cost of your teeth whitening treatment will depend on the system you need to achieve your desired results. At Green Door Dental, all teeth whitening treatments start with an initial consultation where we assess your teeth and discuss your options. This consultation is just $65 — the same price as a regular check-up.
Our take-home whitening kits are $399 and include custom-made trays and whitening gel. We also offer in-chair Zoom whitening plus take-home whitening gel and trays which is $550. While this may sound like a lot, keep in mind that you’ll get to enjoy your new white smile for a long time to come — much longer than other DIY kits! Plus, our flexible payment plans will help you get on the way to a whiter smile sooner. You can have your whitening treatment now and pay for it over time in comfortable instalments.
Want to whiten and brighten your teeth like a pro?
We’ve got you!
At Green Door Dental, we use Zoom Whitening. This professional-grade treatment combines the power of blue LED light with rapid-whitening gel. Zoom also uses Amorphous Calcium Phosphate (ACP) to protect your enamel while improving lustre.
Zoom teeth whitening can be tailored to get the precise outcome you’re looking for, with both in-chair treatment and custom take-home trays available.