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Thursday, 29 March 2018

What’s The Difference Between Take-Home Teeth Whitening Kits At The Dentist Versus The Shops?

Dr. Vincent Wan


Take-home teeth whitening kits from the dentist are much different than those you can buy from the supermarket or pharmacy.  You may choose supermarket or pharmacy products for their lower prices, but you are not getting the same whitening product as you are from the dentist.  In fact, the only thing that is the same is that you use the product at home.  Here is why take-home whitening kits from the dentist are better than a supermarket or pharmacy alternative:

Higher Strength of the Whitening Gel

All teeth whitening products contain some sort of peroxide as the main ingredient to bleach the teeth.  The main difference is the concentration of peroxide allowed in the product.  Obviously, the higher the concentration, the more effective the product is at whitening your teeth.  By law, only teeth whitening products given to you by a dentist can have the highest concentration of peroxide.  A dentist will examine your teeth and make sure a high concentration product is appropriate for your teeth.  Supermarket and pharmacy products have to be low concentration so there is less risk of adverse reactions from using the product.  However, it also makes the product much less effective.  You have to use a whitening product from the dentist to get the whitest result.

Professional Guidance

Take-home teeth whitening at the dentist is often termed professionally-guided take-home teeth whitening.  This is because the dentist examines your teeth before recommending the whitening option to you.  Pros and cons of the whitening option are discussed including risks for your teeth.  If any dental treatment is required before whitening it can diagnosed, discussed and completed prior to starting the whitening.  For example, a filling may be required due to tooth decay.  If the whitening gel got into the unfilled decay area, it would be very painful.  A dentist would not recommend you start teeth whitening until the filling was completed.

Custom-made Whitening Trays

For safety and the most effective whitening result, the trays in which you place the gel are very important.  A dentist will take accurate impressions of your mouth and make whitening trays specific to you and your teeth.  This ensures the best possible fit and comfort when wearing the trays and little risk of getting the gel in the wrong place.  The trays are trimmed to your gumline so there is little risk of irritating your gums or whitening the gums by mistake.  Supermarket and pharmacies kits use pre-made generic trays or self-made boil and bite trays where you heat up a generic one and bite into it before letting it set.  These are bulky, comfortable to wear and don’t provide the accuracy for safe and effective whitening.  When using these, patients tend to complain of teeth sensitivity and gum irritation due to the poorer fit of the trays and the whitening gel spreading to areas that shouldn’t be whitened like the gums.