What Teeth Whitening Products Do Dentists Use?

What Teeth Whitening Products Do Dentists Use?

This piece was originally published on November 12, 2018.

While DIY kits for teeth whitening at home exist, only some people know that dentists offer teeth whitening services that last longer and are better for your oral health. Teeth whitening helps lighten and whiten teeth, removing stains and discoloration. Whitening teeth is very popular and the methods for whitening and/or bleaching teeth vary. 

So which teeth whitening products do dentists use, why are they better than at-home whitening solutions, and how can they help your stained and discolored teeth?

Teeth Whitening at the Dentist is the Best 

When it comes to lightening your teeth to a brighter shade, skipping store-bought kits and going to the dentist is the best option because they use the newest technology that has been proven to work. 

Laser Teeth Whitening

Dental researchers have discovered safe, efficient ways to use lasers to whiten teeth. The lasers are used to heat and “activate” a hydrogen peroxide bleaching gel, which is what causes whitening. This method for teeth whitening can brighten teeth from 6 to 12 shades brighter.

Laser teeth whitening is only used in a dental clinic, and the bleaching process typically lasts between 30 to 60 minutes. The procedure may vary depending on individual conditions. Here is a general outline of what a laser teeth whitening treatment at the dentist entails:

  • First, protective eyewear will be used to shield the patient’s eyes.
  • A gum barrier, often made of resin material, is applied to shield the gums. This prevents the laser light from accidentally heating sensitive tissues in the mouth. It also helps prevent accidentally weakening teeth and gums, which at-home bleaching kits can do.
  • The dentist administers a bleaching gel onto the front teeth.
  • The gel will sit briefly, then the dentist directs a laser onto the teeth.
  • The laser heats the bleaching gel, activating its whitening capabilities.
  • Finally, the gum barrier is removed, and the bleaching gel is rinsed out by the dentist.

Laser teeth whitening lasts for up to 3 years, which is longer than other treatments. Keep in mind teeth whitening procedures can cause minor sensitivity for up to 24 hours.

Dentists Use Hydrogen Peroxide to Whiten Teeth

Whitening products need to penetrate the surface of the tooth to help with the color change. Many dental offices use some form of a chemical called hydrogen peroxide to do this. This hydrogen peroxide is much more concentrated than what is sold over the counter. It penetrates the teeth to change their color from beneath the surface.

One hydrogen peroxide-based product many dentists prefer is Opalescence Boost. The main ingredient in Opalescence Boost is a gel that contains 40% hydrogen peroxide. This is what whitens and brightens the teeth. A second chemical, potassium nitrate, is also applied to help strengthen the tooth enamel, reduce sensitivity, and protect against cavities. When mixed, the two chemicals become a distinct red color; this helps ensure that the gel is placed on the teeth where it needs to be, and is taken off fully when done.

One of the great things about Opalescence Boost is that the procedure takes only one visit to complete (although really difficult stains or discolored teeth might take two or three sessions). It is incredibly safe and effective as long as it is administered by a professional.

whitening teeth at the dentist
Image by YakobchukOlena from Getty Images by Canva.com

Whitening Gel with Ultraviolet Light Boost is Popular With Dentists

Some whitening gels are further activated by using ultraviolet light. This makes the process safer for patients and quicker, and that means less time in the dentist’s chair. A product called Philips Zoom! In-office teeth whitening is an example of this kind of system.

Philips Zoom! has been proven to whiten teeth by 8 shades in a single visit and most patients have reported experiencing little to no tooth sensitivity from the procedure. 

Getting Your Teeth Polished Will Brighten Your Smile 

Teeth become stained over time and drinks like wine, tea, and coffee are the usual cause, as is smoking. Most of these stains can be easily removed with professional polishing and whitening toothpaste. A dentist or dental hygienist can polish teeth as part of a regularly scheduled tooth cleaning, depending on the dental clinic and the services they offer. 

Tooth polishing is a painless dental procedure. The dental hygienist uses a small, soft rubber instrument and polishing paste. If a patient has tough stains, the dental professional may use an air-polishing system, a jet of pressurized air, and water mixed with an abrasive agent. 

Finding Teeth Whitening by Dentists Near You

Using a dentist for teeth whitening can ensure that the products are used safely and correctly. The results are usually better and take less time than most at-home kits. Plus, they last longer! 

To find a dentist near you that offers teeth whitening services, we recommend filling out our quick and easy form to make an appointment.