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How to Whiten Teeth at Home

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A woman smiling and applying a toothpaste on a toothbrush.

Teeth whitening is popular nowadays, and it’s easy to see why. It uses gentle chemicals to lighten your teeth and give you a brighter smile.

Take-home whitening kits from your dentist offer an easy and convenient alternative to in-office whitening. These kits come with easy-to-follow instructions to whiten teeth from the comfort of your home. Schedule an appointment with your dentist so they can give you professional advice and guidance on what kit may work best for you.

How Does Teeth Whitening Work?

Teeth whitening uses a bleaching agent—typically hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide—to break down stains into smaller pieces. Then, a less concentrated stain is much less visible, resulting in whiter teeth.

Types of At-Home Whitening Techniques

Take-home kits from your dentist contain a bleaching agent concentration—usually between 8–20%.

Higher doses of bleaching agents can lead to some tooth sensitivity. If you have sensitive teeth, aim for a lower bleach concentration even though a 20% kit may be more effective—it’s also more likely to cause irritation and sensitivity.

It’s important to follow the instructions on these kits. Overusing a teeth whitening kit can lead to sensitivity and inflammation if you aren’t careful. It can help to visit your dentist to get their advice on safely using these kits!

Some tips to avoid sensitivity are bleach only every second day or wear for less time

Other types of at-home whitening, in order of effectiveness, are:

  • Whitening strips
  • Whitening toothpaste
  • Whitening floss
  • Paint on touch-up kits
  • Mouthwash

Each of these becomes less effective because of the lower concentration of bleaching agent and the less contact time with your teeth.

Does Teeth Whitening Damage Enamel?

Working with your dentist to whiten your teeth, whether in the dental office or at home, is the safest way to achieve the results you want. 

As long as you follow the instructions and advice from your dentist and don’t overuse the product, it won’t damage your enamel

However, even if you do everything correctly, you may still experience tooth or gum sensitivity, but this will likely be temporary and go away when you stop using the product. 

If you misuse the kit or ignore the instructions, you may experience:

  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Gum irritation
  • Uneven whitening on your teeth
  • Unwanted reactions to the chemicals

It’s crucial to follow the instructions. Make sure you only use the kit as recommended. If you already have sensitive teeth, using a lower-concentration product is generally advised to avoid any unwanted side effects.

How Long Does Teeth Whitening Last?

Tooth whitening isn’t permanent, no matter how careful you are.

Typically, a whitening treatment produces results that lasts anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, depending on your lifestyle. You can make some adjustments to your lifestyle to help keep your smile brighter for longer after whitening:

  • Avoid foods and drinks that stain your teeth, like berries, coffee, and wine, or rinse your mouth after eating them.
  • Brush your teeth twice a day and floss regularly.
  • Avoid tobacco products.
  • Use a whitening toothpaste when brushing your teeth. Hydrogen peroxide containing toothpaste is the most effective. Stay away from abrasive toothpastes that scrub the stain away (use toothpaste that has the Canadian Dental Association symbol).

And remember to visit your dentist for regular checkups.

How to Pick a Teeth Whitening Kit

When picking a teeth whitening kit, you’ll want to consider the percentage of the active ingredient. The higher the percentage, the stronger the whitening agent.

These kits come in different styles, including strips, gels, trays, toothpaste, dental floss, or mouthwash. All these choices can make the process feel overwhelming at first.

Fortunately, you can make it much easier for yourself by talking to your dentist. They can take a look and help determine which product may be more effective than another.

A woman in a dentist's office smiling and shaking hands with her dentist while a dental assistant is working in the background.

Come Talk to Us About Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening can be an effective way to achieve a whiter, brighter smile. But whether you’re looking for in-office treatment or a take-home whitening kit, it’s always a good idea to get professional advice. 

Request an appointment with us at Southgate Dental Centre! We’d love to help you on your journey to a brighter smile.

Written by Dr. Kevin Hamm

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