Why Over-the-Counter Teeth Whitening Products May Not Give You the Results You Want

Over-the-counter teeth whitening products

Each year, Americans spend millions of dollars on over-the-counter teeth whitening products, including toothpastes, gels, strips and trays. While these over-the-counter whitening products provide many advantages (e.g., convenience, cost effectiveness), many people still wonder: do they actually work?

The truth is, most store bought whitening products provide less than stellar results, especially in comparison to in-office whitening treatments performed by dental professionals. Dr. Wayne Sutton of Sonoma Smiles explains why in this blog post.

Understanding the Difference between Extrinsic and Intrinsic Stains

There are two types of teeth stains: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic stains are superficial stains that occur on the outer layer of teeth and are often a result of consuming dark-colored foods and beverages, tobacco use, and regular wear and tear. Extrinsic stains are considered to be minor and can be removed with good oral hygiene (i.e., regular brushing, flossing, professional dental cleanings).

Intrinsic stains occur in the inner structure of the tooth, called the dentin. These stains can be caused by trauma, aging and certain medications (e.g., tetracycline). Because these stains are in the deep layers of the teeth, they are harder to get rid of. Regular brushing and cleaning are not enough to lighten these stains.

The majority of at-home and over-the-counter whitening products can only remove extrinsic (superficial) stains and discoloration. This is because these products use a low concentration of hydrogen peroxide that is simply not strong enough to reach deep stains.

For Long-Lasting and Immediate Results

The best way to achieve noticeable and long-lasting whitening results is through an in-office whitening treatment supervised by a dental professional or take-home whitening kits dispensed by a dentist.

In-office teeth whitening produces visible results immediately. The procedure uses a relatively high concentration of peroxide gel, applied and monitored by a trained dental professional. Depending on the whitening system used, the gel may be activated with a blue light. At Sonoma Smiles, our team offers in-office teeth whitening that can lighten teeth up to eight shades in as little as one hour.

Take-home whitening kits also use a higher concentration of peroxide gel than that used in over-the-counter whitening products, but are still safe for home use. The gel is applied to the teeth using custom-made bleaching trays that resemble mouth guards and will not leak. Results with take-home whitening kits typically take several weeks to appear.

Brighten Your Smile with Sonoma Smiles

To learn more about the teeth whitening options we offer, please schedule a consultation with Sonoma Smiles. Our expert team can help you select the best option for you and your goals. Contact us by calling (707) 585-2555, or email our office today.

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(All photos of actual patients)