Teeth whitening is an ever growing beauty trend and is one of the top questions I am asked daily. With so many different “whitening products” or “whitening providers” on the market it’s hard to know which ones are safe, effective and won’t leave you out of pocket. There are two methods used to whiten teeth: in-chair whitening and home kit whitening.
Let us crush the legality surrounding whitening first, as it is pretty important. Before 2012 tooth whitening was unregulated. The EU passed legislation that only dental professionals are able to deliver whitening, providing they have had the correct training. Even as a dental hygienist, I still need a prescription from a dentist to confirm you are dentally sound for me to whiten your teeth. If you see whitening offered in a shopping mall or your local beauty salon – it is illegal, click here to learn more.
EU regulation has capped the level of the active ingredient used in whitening – we will cover the Breaking Bad science in just a moment. Once upon a time, the active ingredient, either Hydrogen Peroxide or Carbamide Peroxide, was as high as 38%. Today the maximum amount of active ingredient allowed is 6% for Hydrogen Peroxide or 16% Carbamide Peroxide. These are the only two chemicals that will actually change the colour of your teeth.
So how does it work? Get comfy because I am about to break the chemistry down for you. The above ingredients simply cause a chemical reaction in the teeth that breaks apart the carbon bond that creates yellow stains. Once the bonds are broken, they no longer reflect a yellow colour.
So which whitening method is best for you? It simply depends on your preference. In-chair whitening requires you to sit in the dental chair with the whitening agent applied to the teeth and a light used to accelerate the product for approximately an hour. Your teeth will be noticeably whiter after treatment but you will still need to whiten them at home to improve the efficiency. This option is great if you need an immediate result, however it requires further whitening and maintenance and will cost more due to the surgery time required and extra materials.