Posted in Beauty on May 28, 2012

Over the past 20 years, new developments have made teeth whitening more affordable, practical and popular.  Benefits include increased oral health, decrease in appearance of age, and increased self-esteem, which can help with interpersonal relationships, employment searches, and other socio-psychological concerns.


There are three basic forms of teeth whitening:  bleaching/whitening products, abrasive agents, and micro-abrasion.


  • Bleaching products are available either through a dental practitioner or over-the-counter.  Tough there has not been time to adequately study the long-term effects of these agents, current studies show that most products on the market are effective in whitening teeth.  In the latest teeth whitening products, the most common active ingredient is peroxide, which serves as a bleaching agent.  Different methods for applying the bleach include:
    — Trays.  The user inserts the product into a dental tray (or uses a pre-loaded tray) and wears the tray for a period of minutes.  This process is repeated over several weeks or months, depending on the severity of stains on the teeth.
    — Strips.  Over-the-counter whitening strips, coated with a peroxide gel, are applied to the teeth for a prescribed number of hours.
    — Films.  Paint-on films work similarly to strips and trays with a peroxide solution.  However, rather than placing an additional foreign object into the mouth, the peroxide mix is painted onto the teeth and left there for a few hours to bleach the teeth.
  • Abrasive products that are available over-the-counter are those found in toothpastes.  When a toothpaste is advertised as having a “whitening” agent, the active ingredient is an abrasive that helps scrub build-up off the teeth, thus restoring the original whiteness of the teeth.  The toothpastes also help to polish the teeth and give them a shiny appearance
  • Microabrasion is a procedure performed by dental professionals.  This process is sometimes used when there are isolated locations of discoloration that are a result of fluorosis (excessive exposure to fluoride).


Both bleaching and abrasive techniques are safe when performed at home, microabrasion is a safe technique when performed under the supervision of a trained dental professional.


The most common side effects of all teeth whitening procedures is mild tooth sensitivity and mild gingival (gum) irritation.