With all the hard work we put into good oral health, it can be disappointing if our teeth aren’t the sparkling white we hope for. Luckily, there are options available to help us get our teeth looking as great as we want them to, and one of the most popular in-home treatments is teeth whitening gel.
You’ve probably seen advertisements for at-home whitening treatments, and you may be wondering how teeth whitening gel works. While in-office teeth whitening like the KöR Deep Bleaching we offer at My Family Dentistry are much more effective, over-the-counter teeth whitening gels are convenient and affordable for many people. We even sell the Opalescence Tooth Whitening System kit in our office! If you’ve been wondering how whitening gels work, read on to find out.
Teeth Whitening Gel at Home vs. in the Office
Before we get to the science, let’s talk about a few big differences between in-office and in-home teeth whitening gel options.
First of all, in-home whitening gels have a less concentrated level of the active ingredient carbamide peroxide that is in many in-office treatments. This is because the peroxide can harm soft tissues (like your gums), and it’s difficult for you to avoid contact with your gums at home.
Secondly, in-home whitening often requires several applications, over the course of multiple days or even weeks depending on the brand you’re using. These are referred to as “slow-acting” gels. Because they are less harsh and easier for you to use at home without damaging your gums, they require more applications to be effective.
While at-home treatments aren’t particularly dangerous, it’s important to know that the safest way to whiten your teeth is in a dentist’s office. Even if you aren’t using a high concentration of peroxide at home, it’s still possible to harm your gums if you apply the whitening gel incorrectly or too frequently.
The biggest difference, though, is in the results. Whether your dentist uses a higher-concentration peroxide gel or another treatment, the whitening that we offer in the office is much more effective.
The Chemical Process
Whether of the in-office or at-home variety, peroxide-based gels work the same way. The carbamide peroxide in the whitening gel breaks down into hydrogen peroxide, a household chemical you may have used to clean stains in your home or scrapes on your knees. Hydrogen peroxide is an oxidizer, and when it interacts with the enamel on your teeth, it allows oxygen to penetrate and lift out discoloration.
Whitening gels also open up the pores on the surfaces your teeth, which can cause your teeth to lose minerals and hydration; this dehydration is what causes tooth sensitivity. Some gels will include other chemicals to seal in hydration, like potassium nitrate. If you do experience sensitivity after your teeth whitening gel treatment, it should go away within 2 to 48 hours. In extreme cases, sensitivity may last longer—if this is the case, please contact your dentist.
How to Get a High-Powered Smile Today
Whether you’re interested in an at-home treatment or are ready to come in to the office for something a little more effective, My Family Dentistry has you covered. You can pick up an Opalescence Tooth Whitening System kit in our office, or call to schedule a KöR Deep Bleaching at your convenience.
The KöR process works by allowing oxygen to penetrate deep into the enamel of your teeth while keeping out the saliva that can disrupt the bleaching process. This is what allows KöR to really dissolve the food, drink, and chemical molecules that cause staining.
When administered by a dental professional, KöR has proven results, even for stains that aren’t affected by other treatments—better yet, it is safe for people with sensitive teeth.
Want to learn more about how Dr. Wes Mullins and the My Family Dentistry team can help you achieve a brighter, more confident smile? Contact us today to learn about your options.