This article will discuss whitening strips, whitening toothpaste and whitening mouth rinses. But beware, before going to the supermarket and buying tooth whitening products, I always recommend patients to get a full dental check-up. If the whitening products are placed on teeth with cavities or recessed gums (meaning your gums have gone down), then supermarket whitening products can cause tooth sensitivity.
Advantages of Whitening Strips
- Generally, whitening strips result in LESS sensitivity issues because patients only use it for 30-45 minutes per session and the bleaching gel on the strips isn’t as strong as the bleaching gel purchased at the dentist’s office.
- Easily purchased from supermarkets and they are generally cheaper than the whitening done at the dentist’s office.
- Easy to use, and they will give you decent results in 1-2 weeks.
Disadvantages of Whitening Strips
- The whitening strips are not good at fitting in between your teeth, thus, some patients have complained about uneven whitening. The front/flat surface of your teeth will be easily whitened, but the edges of your teeth, where there is a slight curvature will be hard for the whitening strip to capture.
- The whitening strips are not custom made for your teeth. Therefore, whitening chemicals on the strip can come into contact with your gums, which can cause gum irritation. Plus, saliva from your mouth can dilute the bleaching gel on the whitening strips, giving you poorer results.
- Whitening stripes are basically a waste of money if you have crooked teeth or crowding. The whitening strip wraps really well if your teeth are perfectly straight, but as soon as 1 or 2 teeth are out of alignment…it’s game over. It makes applying the strip really difficult and causes uneven whitening.
My overall opinion on the one-size-fits-all supermarket whitening strips?
If you’re on a tight $$ budget, and you have straight teeth, then whitening strips are a great alternative. However, in my opinion, the gold standard for whitening is customized whitening trays purchased by a dentist – they will give you the best results. Click here to read more about customized whitening trays.
Advantages of Whitening Toothpastes
- Whitening toothpaste is easy to use, and it will usually give you results after 4-5 weeks.
- You can easily find them in supermarkets and they are relatively cheap compared to other supermarket whitening products.
Disadvantages of Whitening Toothpastes
- They are quite abrasive/rough!
- In the long run, whitening toothpaste will cause the protective enamel layer of your teeth to get worn down, leading to tooth sensitivity and discolouration. For this reason, most whitening toothpaste companies recommend patients to use whitening toothpastes for only 4-6 weeks.
- Sometimes, it can be confusing to determine which toothpastes are safe to use every day and which toothpastes should only be used for 4-6 weeks. One way to determine if your toothpaste is safe for daily use is to check its abrasiveness (aka its roughness level). To check this, simply type into Google: “Relative Dentin Abrasion (RDA) chart for toothpastes”, and see if your toothpaste sits in the high-risk category. Just as a reference, if your toothpaste has an RDA value of 99 or higher, then it is relatively abrasive and should be avoided for daily use. You’ll notice most whitening toothpastes fall in the high-risk category.
- Here are examples of whitening toothpastes with high-risk abrasiveness:
- Colgate Optic White – RDA value of 100
- Crest Extra Whitening – RDA value of 130
- Sensodyne Extra Whitening – RDA value of 104
My overall opinion on whitening toothpaste?
My recommendation would be to stay away from whitening toothpaste altogether, especially if you can afford other whitening products, which are less abrasive. With that being said, I have used Colgate Optic White in the past, and it did whiten my teeth by 1-2 shades after 4 to 5 weeks, but after learning about its long term consequences of tooth sensitivity, I immediately stopped it.
- There are no advantages for whitening mouthwashes because they are no different from a regular mouthwash.
- Mouthwashes, in general, have very few advantages. If you want to read more about Listerine mouthwash and its possible link to cancer, click here.
- The whitening ingredient in whitening mouthwashes is peroxide, which is a popular ingredient for tooth whitening. However, for the peroxide to whiten your teeth, it needs to SIT on your teeth for 30-60 minutes, not 30 seconds.
- Rinsing your mouth for 30 seconds with a whitening mouthwash will give you zero benefits because peroxide cannot work its whitening magic in 30 seconds.
My overall opinion on whitening mouthwash?
Some companies claim that whitening mouthwash shows results after 12 WEEKS of regular use! Outrageous! It’s a total gimmick. They are most likely giving you a placebo effect. In my personal opinion, whitening mouthwash is a waste of money.
Important Take Home Messages:
- Whitening strips work best if you have straight teeth. They are the safest supermarket whitening product.
- Whitening toothpaste is abrasive and it will cause tooth sensitivity & discolouration if it is used as a daily toothpaste. Don’t use whitening toothpaste for more than 5-6 weeks.
- Whitening mouthwash is a gimmick. You can rinse your mouth with water after every meal, instead of whitening mouthwash, and it’s likely to give you the same whitening results.