A Quick Look at Different Methods for Whitening Teeth

Whitening your teeth can provide an instant confidence boost, make you quicker to laugh and enjoy yourself in social situations, and even shave years off of your appearance.

However, despite the fact that they all work in the same way, using either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide to bleach away stains and discoloration, different methods of teeth whitening suit different people’s needs.

To help you grasp which method of teeth whitening may be best for your specific situation, take a peek below to learn about the most common methods available and their respective suitability traits.

Whitening Strips

If you’ve ever purchased breath strips from your local convenience store, then you’re familiar with applying these types of strips onto your teeth. However, unlike those convenience store strips, whitening strips contain much more powerful ingredients, don’t disintegrate, and have to be removed after use.

Whitening strips are typically applied directly onto your upper and lower teeth and left on for around of 30 minutes, depending on the specific brand and make of the strips. Because whitening strips are often more concentrated than traditional whitening gel, you’re often asked to take periodic breaks from using them after a certain number of consecutive days to avoid over whitening or potentially harming your teeth.

Don’t worry about knowing when these break periods should take place, as most companies will provide specific instructions with your purchase.

Whitening Gels

The most direct method of teeth whitening is applying whitening gel directly onto your teeth, often with a provided applicator called a “pen”. These pens look and operate similarly to an applicator you would inside of a nail polish container.

For maximum effectiveness, you’re often asked to apply whitening gel after you’ve already brushed your teeth with regular toothpaste. Applying is as simple as dipping your applicator into the gel and running it over your upper and lower teeth. After coating, you’re then typically asked to wait at least 10 minutes before rinsing to allow the gel to take effect. However, some whitening gels don’t require or actually discourage rinsing.

You can also find stronger, on-the-go versions of whitening gel that you can carry with you and apply whenever you need a quick touchup. While different people will experience different levels of whitening success, these stronger variations can produce noticeable whitening immediately upon application, making them ideal for social situations.

Whitening Trays

Another way to whiten your teeth is to fill a tray molded to the shape of your teeth with whitening gel, place the tray onto your teeth, and allow enough time to pass (usually specified in the provided instructions) before removing the tray and spitting out any excess foam caused by the whitening gel.

This method is one of the most concentrated ways to whiten your teeth, with visible results often being apparent after just one use, and longer-term results taking place after just a few treatments. However, keep in mind that you might be spending more time on a daily basis in your bathroom if you opt to use this method of teeth whitening.

As explained more in-depth below, teeth whitening trays are also often paired with some form of UV or blue LED light to improve the speed and effectiveness of whitening.

LED Treatments

If you’ve researched teeth whitening at all in the past few years, you’ve undoubtedly seen images of people with what appear to be blue orbs of light emanating from their mouths. These blue orbs are actually blue LED lights used to accelerate the teeth whitening process.

Specifically, these lights, when combined with hydrogen peroxide, are proven to lighten the color of teeth much more effectively compared to if you were to just use peroxide by itself. This is why many companies have taken to including mouth trays already fitted with blue LEDs with their teeth whitening kits.

Whitening Toothpastes

While often not as strong as some of the other whitening methods listed in this article, whitening toothpaste is often the least expensive form of teeth whitening and, when combined with a high-enough powered toothbrush, can help reduce surface-level stains.

Smaller concentrations of bleaching products, as is often found in whitening toothpaste, can also be great for people with sensitive teeth who may experience more discomfort (not to mention more damage to their teeth) from higher concentrations found in other treatments.

Beyond effectiveness, whitening toothpaste is also easier to incorporate into your daily dental regimen than something like LED treatment, which can require you to spend much longer periods of time actively whitening your teeth.