Comparing Teeth-Whitening Products

A brunette woman comparing teeth whitening and toothpaste products in a store.

Are your teeth looking a bit more dull lately? It’s normal for the teeth to fade over time, which happens because of your foods, drinks, health and oral hygiene habits. That doesn’t mean you have to live with lack-luster teeth. What should you choose when it comes to teeth-whitening products? Not all are made the same. Learn the differences so you make an informed decision for your smile!


Can Your Toothpaste Whiten?

There are many toothpastes that claim to “whiten teeth”, but how effective are they? With many toothpastes, that claim is simply a play on words. Technically, the act of brushing your teeth with toothpaste can remove plaque and recent surfaces stains (such as from that day). Removing that gunk can definitely make your teeth whiter, but that is about the extent of what many “whitening” toothpastes actually do.


You can know if your toothpaste really has any whitening power by the ingredients in it. There are certainly toothpastes that do have whitening ingredients that can get your teeth whiter. However, that whiter shade may be imperceptible and you may be waiting quite a long time to see sparkling-white teeth, if ever. The main purpose of toothpastes is to have small scrubbing agents (like mild abrasives) to buff the teeth and to remove plaque. A common toothpaste ingredient is baking soda because it is a mild abrasive to clean teeth. It also is shown to remove stains so well that you could see a bit whiter teeth after using it for four weeks. However, your teeth whitening will be minimal.


If you want a toothpaste that will both remove surface stains and will provide a bit of whitening for upkeep, look for toothpastes that contain either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Both are safe teeth whitening agents. However, the amount put in toothpastes is so small that they are safe for regular and frequent use. You may experience more sensitive teeth and gums from the different peroxides in your toothpaste. If that happens to you, consider switching to regular toothpaste for a couple of weeks.

A close-up view of a woman's mouth that shows half of her teeth before teeth whitening and half of them afterwards.

Strips, Gels and Over-the-Counter Products

A step up from teeth-whitening toothpastes are whitening strips, gels and other over-the-counter products. These are whitening products you can get at most drug or grocery stores instead of from a dental professional. Many of the most popular brands of toothpastes and toothbrushes will have some sort of whitening product in one of these forms, and they all work the same way. The amount of carbamide peroxide will be between 10 % and 22%, and hydrogen peroxide content will get up to 3% in these products.


Whitening strips are transparent strips coated in whitening paste. You carefully place the strip over your teeth and keep them in place for about 20-30 minutes. These strips can noticeably whiten, but are as thin as tissue paper and the whitening substance can go everywhere in your mouth. With these and other gels that you apply to the teeth, you have to keep salivating to a minimum, if possible.


There are products that cost a bit more that will have actual whitening trays, but the trays are one-size-fits-all, which may not work for your mouth. Some dental professionals recommend that many teens (and especially children) don’t use these over-the-counter products, as they contain bleaching agents that can be harmful to youth. With any over-the-counter product for you or your older teen, make sure you’re very careful to follow instructions. Only try these products once and assess your level of sensitivity. Your teeth can become very sensitive from the chemicals after one use and you will want to assess the irritation (or burns) to your gums if you weren’t careful.


A brunette woman wearing protective glasses as she is about to receive a professional teeth whitening treatment in office.

Easy In-Office Teeth-Whitening

In-office teeth whitening is the quickest way to get a whiter smile. The whitening solution is generally between 15% and 43% hydrogen peroxide, which is how the treatment gets your teeth so white so fast. However, you can’t get that strong of a solution over-the-counter, as it can be dangerous if used incorrectly. Our whitening service is a Sapphire brand whitening gel. It’s formulated to prevent tooth sensitivity, which is so common with teeth-whitening products. The gel helps to relieve discomfort during your actual procedure, which is usually the hardest part of whitening (because of sensitivity).


In-office treatments such as Sapphire take 30-60 minutes just like over-the-counter products do. We provide protection for your gums so no gum irritation or burning happens and we use plasma light to activate the whitening gel on your teeth. Instead of simply being a bleaching agent like most teeth-whitening treatments, we use light therapy with this special gel to whiten. Our Plasma Arc Light has a chemical reaction to the dental gel that lightens the tooth almost immediately. This is the safest and fastest option for patients who want to get their smile whiter in a hurry, but that don’t want intense sensitivity or burning that happens with other products.


Get Your Better Smile Today

Did you know that your smile can work wonders both in you and with others? Psychology Today reports that smiling can actually be contagious. In studies, smiling—even when it’s the last thing you want to do—can make you happier. When you smile, your body releases neuropeptides, which are hormones that help you deal with stress and negative feelings. The more you smile, the better you can feel throughout the day.


Seeing others smile can have the same effect. Plus, sharing your smile with others is shown to activate areas of the brain associated with reward. In that way, you can actually help another person feel better with your smile. And, you’ll want to show that smile off more if it is beautiful and white. If you want to get your whiter smile today, call Family & Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies today at (970) 223-8425!