Over-The-Counter Versus Pro Teeth Whitening

Our Teddington dentists look at why you may be disappointed, or even at risk with DIY whitening

You will almost certainly have noticed an increasing number of adverts on TV, offering toothpastes that purport to whiten your teeth. This seems like a ‘win win’ situation, keeping your teeth healthy and also whiter than they currently are. There are also home whitening kits that are available from chemists and some other outlets which offer an alternative route, but how effective and safe are these?

Whitening toothpastes

On the surface of it, having whiter teeth simply by brushing your teeth with a special toothpaste is a great idea. The reality though, is somewhat different. To understand why, there are a few things to consider.

Firstly, some staining is caused by foodstuffs that stick to the enamel of your teeth. Much of this is limited with regular brushing with any toothpaste. Some will stick though, and if these whitening toothpastes remove more than standard ones, it is possibly because they have additional abrasives in them. Unfortunately, this will not only remove staining but is likely to cause more damage to your tooth enamel too – particularly if you brush too hard. As this protects the teeth, this is most definitely not a good thing.

The other type of discolouration occurs inside the teeth. The inner part of our teeth naturally darken with age, and currently anyway, there is nothing that we can do to prevent this. The only way to whiten teeth affected in this way is to use a form of clinical bleach. At Elmfield House Dental Practice in Teddington, the teeth whitening procedure that we provide will do this both safely and effectively. Because safety is a concern however, manufacturers of whitening toothpastes are limited, by law,  in the amount of the active ingredient allowed. Whilst this does make the toothpastes safe, it also significantly limits the results too. You are unlikely to notice much difference at all if you use these toothpastes. They may, however, help to extend the effects following a professional teeth whitening procedure at our Teddington practice.

Whitening kits

These are similar to the ‘at home whitening’ kits that many dentists provide. There are two key differences however. Firstly, although the strength of the whitening ingredient is much higher than in toothpastes, it still does not come close to that allowed in dental practices. Secondly, and importantly, the trays in these kits are very much a ‘one size fits all’ tray and may not fit particularly well. Where this is the case, leakage of the bleaching agent may occur and potentially lead to unpleasant irritation of the soft tissue.

The kits that dentists supply are different. Aside from the fact that they are more effective, the trays are made for each individual patient from impressions that are taken of the teeth. This means that any risk of leakage is very minimal indeed, leaving the patient to have whiter teeth in complete safety.

If you are unhappy about the colour of your teeth and would like to see what the cosmetic dentists at Elmfield House Dental Practice can do to improve them, why not arrange an initial consultation by calling our Teddington practice on 020 8614 1995.