Written by: Lindsey Marx | Best Company Editorial Team
Last Updated: February 24th, 2020
Are you interested in teeth whitening, but not sure who to trust or where to look?
Do you feel awkward searching for teeth whitening information?
Are you embarrassed by the stains in your smile?
Look no further! Dr. Brandon Holyoak, DDS, a dentist found in Denver, Colorado at SaddleRock Dental is here to help answer the following questions:
- Does teeth whitening actually work?
- Which brands or companies do you recommend?
- What are some pros and cons of teeth whitening?
- Do you have any funny teeth whitening moments?
Does teeth whitening actually work?
"Yes! Tooth whitening is a chemical reaction that changes chemistry within your teeth but doesn’t work for every situation. Whitening only works for real teeth (enamel). If a patient has crowns, veneers, or any kind of fillings, these will not change color with whitening. There are other situations, like tetracycline staining, where whitening doesn’t work as well. This is because the stain is so deep inside the tooth that the peroxide base whitener isn’t able to reach it."
Which brands or companies do you recommend?
"Most brands/companies are the same. They all market different types of peroxide-based whiteners and each has its claim that it is better than its competitor. No matter the initial solution, almost all whiteners break down into a hydrogen peroxide product. It works by oxidizing the double bonds of chromogens, a fancy scientific word for stain, which ultimately makes the color lighter in appearance. The peroxide does penetrate into the tooth but not very far.
The biggest difference between whiteners is concentration and mode of delivery. Obviously, toothpastes and rinses are going to be the most diluted because they contact your gums and mouth. They work but take the longest before you see results. Crest White Strips and “bleaching trays” can have a little stronger solution because it's designed to be isolated to the teeth.
The strongest, most potent whitening products are only available through your dentist. That’s because they can cause damage to the surrounding structures of your mouth (gums, lips, tongue) if special care isn’t taken to keep the product on the enamel. The stronger the product, the faster the whitening, but this also increases your risk for cold sensitivity. Everyone’s whitening experience is different. I like to compare it to sun tanning. Some people can lay out all day and get the perfect tan. Other people have to go slowly to avoid getting burned. If you suffer from cold sensitivity, its probably best to stick with a more diluted product and whiten slowly over time."
What are some pros and cons of teeth whitening?
"It is possible to damage your teeth with whitening if you aren’t careful. There was an episode on Oprah several years ago about strange addiction, and there was a girl addicted to teeth whitening. It’s important to note that she was whitening her teeth for hours on end for several years. There is a point where it will weaken the tooth structure, but most patients will never get to this point. The pros, obviously, are mostly aesthetic. One could argue that it makes you feel better about yourself if you’re happy about the appearance of your teeth."
Do you have any funny teeth whitening moments?
"My favorite whitening story is the Friends episode where Ross whitens his teeth, and they glow blue all night! That’s always a good YouTube find. Like everything else in the dental office, sometimes things don’t go according to plan. People can gag, drool, or throw up during impressions.
I was a freshman in college when my older sister, a hygienist, was training on a high-powered whitening protocol by Phillips. She didn’t have a clue was she was doing and turned my gums white! She was pretty proud of her whitening expertise, until the instructor informed her that my gums were white because of a chemical burn. Ouch! I think about that every time we do tooth whitening!"
So there you have it! Be sure to consult with your dentist for the best options and pricing plans for yourself and enjoy a gorgeous white smile!