All toothpastes help remove surface stains, because they contain mild abrasives. Some whitening toothpastes contain gentle polishing or chemical agents that provide additional stain removal effectiveness. Whitening toothpastes can help remove surface stains only and do not contain bleach; over-the-counter and professional whitening products contain carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide that helps lighten the color deep in the tooth. Whitening toothpastes can lighten the tooth's color by about one shade. In contrast, light-activated whitening conducted in your dentist's office can make your teeth three to eight shades lighter.
Over-the-Counter Whitening Strips and Gels
Whitening gels are clear, peroxide-based gels applied with a small brush directly to the surface of your teeth. Instructions vary depending on the strength of the peroxide. Follow the directions on the product carefully. Initial results are seen in a few days and final results are sustained for about four months.
Whitening strips are very thin, virtually invisible strips that are coated with a peroxide-based whitening gel. The strips are applied twice daily for 30 minutes for 14 days. Initial results are seen in a few days and final results are sustained for about four months.
Among the newest whitening products available are whitening rinses. Like most mouthwashes, they freshen breath and help reduce dental plaque and. But these products also include ingredients, such as hydrogen peroxide in some, which whiten teeth. Manufacturers say it may take 12 weeks to see results. You just swish them around in your mouth for 60 seconds twice a day before brushing your teeth. However, some experts say that rinses may not be as effective as other over-the-counter whitening products. Because a whitening rinse is only in contact with the teeth for such a short time - just two minutes a day compared to 30 minutes for many strips - it may have less of an effect.
In-office and at-home bleaching treatments
This three-month, single-blind clinical study compared two whitening treatments, at-home with 10% carbamide peroxide and in-office with 35% hydrogen peroxide, for the degree of color change of teeth, color relapse and tooth and gum sensitivity. The degree of color change and color relapse was evaluated by using a colorimeter, shade guide and color slide photography. Teeth and gum sensitivity were self-evaluated by the subjects, who recorded daily the tooth and gum sensitivity they experienced during the two weeks of treatment and one week post-treatment.
A 14-day at-home treatment was compared with 60 minutes of in-office treatment (two appointments, each with three 10-minute applications). The at-home treatment produced significantly lighter teeth than the in-office treatment during all active-treatment periods and follow-up visits according to all three-color evaluation methods. Color relapse for both treatments stabilized by six weeks. At-home treatment resulted in statistically significant higher gum sensitivity than in-office treatment during the latter part of the first week. For tooth sensitivity there were no significant differences between the treatments. Eighty four percent of the subjects reported at-home treatment to be more effective and 16% found no difference between the treatments. There were no subjects who reported the in-office treatment to be superior in tooth whitening to the at-home treatment.