Different Types Of Teeth Whitening Dental Kits
A “take-home” dental whitening kit is a great option for long term tooth whitening.
Although a professional “in the dentist’s office” whitening session can get your teeth whiter, faster, if you have a job that needs more than one or two sessions you might consider a home-use dental whitening kit.
You can get these kits from your dentist. They use a form of peroxide gel to whiten your teeth, though they’ll have a lower concentration of peroxide than we use in the dentist’s office.
These take-home kits are much more powerful than regular surface whiteners though, such as whitening gum or whitening toothpaste.
There are a few different types of dental kits, such as:
Dental trays are the first whitening system ever invented (way back in ‘89).
You can see a dental tray pictured below. It’s a plastic device, very similar to a mouthguard that you might wear when playing sports.
Here’s how the kit works (it’s simple): apply the provided peroxide gel on the tray, and then put it in your mouth over your teeth.
Once it’s in there, you’ll want to wipe away any whitener that squeezes out of the tray near your gums. You can use your toothbrush, or your finger to wipe the excess away. Doing this helps to minimize any discomfort from getting whitener on your gums.
You can wear the tray for a couple of hours each day (overnight works great). I might recommend you do this for a few days, or even a few weeks, depending on your specific case. You'll want a personal recommendation before you get your kit though, otherwise you might end up with a whitening plan that's isn't right for you.
A big reason you’ll want a professional recommendation is because of the type of staining on your teeth. There are different types of discolorations you will have on your teeth, and how your teeth are discolored will make a difference in the specific kit and peroxide concentration you use.
As well, if you have any tooth sensitivity, gum irritation, or other problems with your dental tray, you’ll have a professional to help you get back on track to safe whitening.
Getting a dental tray in-office will allow you to get a tray that’s custom for your mouth too, rather than just a generic tray that might not fit as well. One problem that can arise from a generic tray is that the peroxide in the tray might not make a good seal on your teeth, lessening your results.
These “stock” trays also don’t have reservoirs for excess whitener, so you might get some in undesired parts of your mouth (or down your throat), which could irritate those areas.
Still, if you’re willing to assume the risk, an “over-the-counter” kit may serve you well. My recommendation is still to get a custom kit from a dentist. That may sound biased considering I’m a dentist, but I mainly just want to make sure you get the best results possible when whitening your teeth.
Teeth whitening dental strips are super thin, and clear. You can see right through them!
Whitening strips are covered with a peroxide gel (remember, peroxide is the stuff that makes your teeth whiter).
Typically you’ll want to leave the strips on for 30 minutes, and you can use them twice a day for 14 days. Some strips might have different instructions, but these are the most common usage directions.
Are All Whitening Strips The Same Strength?
Some whitening strips are weaker than others. There are those with a 6% concentration of hydrogen peroxide (wear for 2 weeks) and those with a higher 10% concentration (wear for 1 week). There are other types as well, but these two are the most common.
Great For Beginner’s
If this is your first time whitening, then you can’t go wrong with a strip.
The great thing about whitening strips is that they’re super clean and easy to use - no chance for a mess! They also protect really well against getting unnecessary peroxide on your gums, or any places where it’s not supposed to go.
Paint-On Teeth Whitening
If you want to avoid a physical tray or strip, you can just paint the peroxide onto your teeth! And no, I’m not suggesting that you just get any old peroxide from the drugstore and dip a paint brush in there.
What I AM suggesting though is that you consider a paint-on teeth whitening solution.
By painting on the supplied gel, you’re able to avoid any sort of physical tray in your mouth. Just apply the gel, and it will dry onto your teeth, turning into sort of a “film” of gel. There’s a trade off though, as you need to be careful not to dislodge the film while it’s in there.
You can take some steps to prevent the film from being dislodged. For example:
Once you’ve painted the whitener onto your teeth, you’ll want to give it 30 seconds to dry on before you do too much with your mouth. Once it’s on, it will take about 30 minutes or so to dissolve and come off, but you probably won’t notice it as it comes off.
This next step is a given, but I’ll say it anyways - avoid eating or drinking/rinsing while you’ve got this film on your teeth, as it could dislodge or dissolve it too early.
Because the paint-on method doesn’t have a physical tray or strip to hold the gel in place, it’s slightly less effective than those other methods. It’s still quite good though, and regular use is going to whiten your teeth considerably.
The biggest challenge of using the paint-on kit is just applying it. You’ll want to use a mirror for this one, as it’s important to be thorough as to where you place the gel; it’s easy to miss a spot!
You may remember plaque-locating dyes available when you were a kid. You’d put these in your mouth, and it would show you (in red dye) all the places on your teeth that you missed while brushing. This perfectly illustrates how you can miss spots on your teeth when applying the paint-on whitening.
Take-home lesson: be meticulous when applying the gel, and take care to avoid getting it on your gums (this peroxide is strong stuff!).
Whitening Kit Roundup
All of these whitening devices use hydrogen peroxide to clean your teeth (as well as carbamide peroxide in some cases). These chemicals are generally recognized as safe, and are the standards for teeth whitening in the dental community.
Be aware though - if you use these kits they will whiten your teeth, but not your fillings! If you’ve had work done on your mouth in the past, you really do want to consult your dentist to figure out a plan for your teeth, based on the previous work (fillings, root canals, crowns, bridges, etc.) done on your teeth.
Any take-home teeth whitening kit does have a few dangers. Your teeth may become temporarily sensitive, and it might irritate your gums if you get the peroxide on them. If either of these happen to you, stop the treatment temporarily and wait a few days until they go away. You usually won’t need to talk to a dentist because these symptoms are often very minor.
Once you’ve noticed your symptoms go away, feel free to start whitening again (this time with extra care if you accidentally got peroxide on your gums last time).