The main advantage of using over the counter whitening is the cost. A price that ranges between $10 to $35 against supervised tooth whitening that costs from $600 to $1000 and in some cases, beyond the K mark is indeed attractive not to mention the same teeth whitening results. The question though that causes many people to hesitate is its safety, it is.
Except when there is a special tooth and gum problem, where the teeth is prone to hypersensitivity and where the gum is easily irritated, over the counter teeth whitening ranks among the safest in cosmetic enhancement. Teeth whitening gels, strips, pens, gurgles and other treatments are generally designed for self help and the mix is generally very mild. This is not only done to avoid problems but to market the products most effectively. Highly successful products depend much on acceptability, endorsement by word of mouth and repeat sales. Over the counter teeth whitening has in a short period of time claimed that. In fact it sparked controversies among dentists, but more to that later.
Even as professionally supervised teeth whitening treatments contain hydrogen peroxide as its active bleaching agent that is safe enough even for home use, over the counter preparations contain carbamide peroxide which is even safer and milder. The effects are the same. While hydrogen peroxide acts faster, carbamide peroxide when left in the mouth for a time divides into urea and hydrogen peroxide that acts on the stains by the oxidation process. It gets into the spaces of the rods in the enamel of the tooth, lifts the stains and drains the stain out. Several repetitions of this and the teeth become as white as its original color. Since over the counter teeth whitening trays are milder, it would take longer and more treatments but it would also prevent gum irritation and tooth sensitivity.
Another popular concern is whether bleaches weaken the enamel of the tooth.
A study conducted by Kugel et al confirms that indeed repetitive and prolonged use of peroxides could weaken the tooth’s enamel. However, the effects are very negligible. Aside from that, the saliva replaces tooth enamel that is lost if ever there is.
Even for people who have tooth hypersensitivity and gums that could easily be irritated, the discomfort is readily remedied by gels and pastes containing fluorides or less frequent use of the whitening agents.
Not everyone though is a good candidate for teeth whitening. There are teeth conditions and stains that are resistant to bleaching. Examples of these are trauma to the tooth that caused the stain, blood that has leeched to the dentin, people with fillings, crowns and veneers. Crowns, veneers and fillings will always retain its default color while those that are deep in the dentin will need professional supervision.
Initially, when established companies launched teeth whitening products, many dentists felt that the products will be taking their patients away from them. The opposite happened. Teeth whitening products generated enthusiasm, interest where heightened and dentists now has much more in-office patients than before.