Teeth Whitening

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Is Teeth Whitening Not Making Your Teeth Whiter?
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Commercial teeth whitening products have grown exponentially over the last 20 years.  The market has grown so much that even toothpastes want a piece of the action.

If you’d walked down the toothpaste aisle at Wal-Mart 20 years ago, you’d have noticed that “Tartar Control” were the two big buzzwords.

Nowadays, “Whitening” seems to be the best word to put on a toothpaste tube to make it sell.

Learn why your whitening toothpaste isn’t making your teeth any whiter.

The problem with most teeth whitening systems is that it’s often difficult to tell if your teeth are getting whiter since the change can be very gradual.

An Easy Way to Tell If Your Teeth Are Getting Whiter

Tooth Shade GuideOne of the easiest ways to tell if your teeth whitening system is actually working is to simply ask your dental hygienist to grab a tooth shade guide at your next dental visit.  Your hygienist can let you know what shade your teeth are.

Then you can try an over-the-counter teeth whitening system or get a professional-strength whitening gel from your dentist.

At your next visit, have your dental hygienist check your tooth shade again to see if the method you’ve used to whiten your teeth has actually made your teeth any whiter.

What If My Whitening Gel Came With a Shade Guide?

Some teeth whitening systems do come with a shade guide, but these are usually printed on paper.  The shade guide that your dentist uses actually contains tooth-shaped pieces of plastic that allow light to pass through them, similar to your natural teeth.

This shade guide will generally be able to give you a better idea of what shade your teeth are before you start whitening your teeth.

Do you have any questions or personal experiences about teeth whitening that you’d like to share?  Leave them below in the comments section.  Thanks for reading!

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At Home Teeth Whitening
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A few months ago, one of my patients asked me if the whitening products that you can buy from the store actually whiten your teeth.  She wasn’t too excited about the expensive price that our dental school charges for a custom bleaching tray and professional-strength bleach.

She was looking for a cheaper alternative.  There’s nothing wrong with trying to save money (as long as you don’t get caught up in an online teeth whitening scam), but the question remained: Do at-home teeth whitening products really work?

At Home Teeth Whitening: Does It Work?

At the time, I told her that they do work, but they’re not as effective as getting it done at the dental office because we can use a higher-strength gel than the whitening products that are available over the counter.  I hate answering patients questions when I’m not entirely sure what the answer is, so I decided it would be a good idea to research this question.

Does At-Home Teeth Whitening Really Work?

Crest WhiteStips Advanced Seal Professional EffectsI was able to find a systematic review, which is an academic paper that reviews lots of studies, eliminating the poorly designed studies, and tries to state the best-available evidence on a given topic.

The systematic review that I found from the Cochrane Collaboration states that at home teeth whitening products do whiten your teeth.  However, the effectiveness of the whitening varies based on the strength of the peroxide used in the product.  Here’s their explanation using their academically-appropriate big words:

There is evidence that whitening products work when compared with placebo/no treatment. There are differences in efficacy between the products, mainly due to the levels of active ingredients, hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide. All trials were however short term and the majority of the studies were judged to be at high risk of bias and were either sponsored or conducted by the manufacturers.  There is a need for pragmatic long-term and independent clinical studies that include participants representing diverse populations. There is also a need to evaluate long-term harms.

So, the verdict is in!  At home teeth whitening products do actually work to get your teeth whiter.

Before you whiten your teeth it is a good idea to visit your dentist (here’s six reasons why) and to be familiar with the two main side effects of teeth whitening.

Do At-Home Teeth Whitening Products Work For You?

I’ve only used over the counter teeth whitening products a handful of times.  The paint-on gel worked the best for me, while I never got very good results with teeth whitening strips.

How about you?  Have you ever tried whitening your teeth?  Did you notice a difference?  I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments section below.  Thanks for reading!

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Teeth Whitening Side Effects
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Did you know that more than half of all people who bleach their teeth end up with sensitive teeth as a result?  It seems like people are willing to go through a lot just to get whiter teeth.  In this article, I’m going to talk about the two main side effects of whitening your teeth: tooth sensitivity and sore gums.

Sensitive Teeth

Teeth Whitening Side EffectsTooth sensitivity is the most common side effect of teeth whitening.  It can range from very mild tooth sensitivity to a sharp, shooting type of pain.  Almost always, the sensitivity goes away within a few weeks and no permanent harm is done to the teeth.  But, in rare cases, irreversible tooth damage can occur according to this page on the American Dental Association’s website.

When I whitened my teeth last year, I ended up with really sensitive teeth and had to stop after a few nights to keep my teeth from driving me crazy!

This study from the American Dental Association found out the following during a study about tooth sensitivity after teeth whitening:

“Fifty-four percent of subjects in both test and controlgroups reported mild sensitivity; 10 percent of test subjectsand 2 percent of control subjects reported moderate sensitivity;4 percent of test subjects and no control subjects reportedsevere sensitivity. Sensitivity decreased with time; by thesecond week, no severe sensitivity was reported, and by thefourth week, no moderate sensitivity was reported.”

How to Stop Sensitive Teeth Caused by Teeth Whitening

There are desensitizing gels available that can be applied to your teeth either before or after whitening your teeth.  These gels contain similar ingredients to those found in toothpastes for those with sensitive teeth.

This study found that using a desensitizing gel before getting your teeth whitened at the dental office actually reduced the amount of tooth sensitivity that a patient experiences.  In the words of the researchers, “The use of a desensitizing gel (5 percent nitratepotassium/2 percent sodium fluoride) before in-office bleachingdid not affect the bleaching efficacy but did reduce tooth sensitivity.”

Your dentist can also give you desensitizing gel if your tooth sensitivity does not seem to be decreasing within a reasonable time after the procedure..

Sore Gums

The second main side effect of teeth whitening is sore gums.  There are a couple of theories as to why you get sore gums with teeth whitening.

Hydrogen peroxide is able to cause chemical burns (much like aspirin) on the inside of your mouth.  One theory suggests that since hydrogen peroxide is present when you whiten your teeth, it can irritate your gums.

Most teeth whitening gels contain carbamide peroxide which ends up breaking down into hydrogen peroxide to whiten the teeth.

Another theory as to why you get sore gums when you whiten your teeth doesn’t have to do with the whitening gel – it is caused by the tray that holds the whitening gel up against your teeth.  The ADA says that “Tissue irritation, in most cases, results from an ill-fitting tray rather than the tooth-bleaching agents.”

How to Stop Sore Gums Caused by Teeth Whitening

If you often have sore gums after you whiten your teeth, you can often solve the problem by getting a tray that fits better.  Dentists can make teeth whitening trays that are custom made to fit your teeth and that hold the gel on your teeth rather than on your gums.  If that doesn’t work, it may be best to take a break from whitening your teeth to keep your gums from hurting.

What to Do If You Develop These Teeth Whitening Side Effects

The dental textbook Sturdevant’s Art and Science of Operative Dentistry states “If either of the two primary side effects occurs (i.e., sensitive teeth or irritated gingiva), the patient should reduce or discontinue treatment immediately and contact the dentist so that the cause of the problem can be determined and the treatment approach modified.  The dentist may prescribe desensitizing agents to help alleviate sensitivity associated with bleaching.”

Conclusion

Although these are the two main side effects, there are other side effects that have been suggested such as:

  • Nausea
  • Sore Throat
  • TMJ disorder due to tray usage
  • Alteration of the normal bacteria leading to taste-bud enlargement
  • Oral infection

If you experience any of these side effects associated with teeth whitening, get in touch with your dentist to get more information on your individual situation.  Sometimes having pearly whites is not worth the discomfort and possible damage to your teeth!

Have you ever had any of these teeth whitening side effects?  What happened?  I’d love to hear your stories, comments, and questions in the comments section below.  Thanks for reading!

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Teeth Whitening and Teeth Bleaching
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When our permanent teeth first come into our mouths, they are nice and white.  Not quite as white as our baby teeth were, but they are still a respectable shade of white.

Over time, as we eat different foods our teeth begin to lose their bright white luster.  Eventually our teeth’s enamel, the outermost layer of our teeth, develops little tiny cracks in it.  These cracks make the tooth more susceptible to becoming a more yellow-brown dark shade.

Darker teeth are generally viewed as less attractive than white teeth.  This simple fact often leads many people to try to make their teeth whiter.

The Difference Between Teeth Whitening & Teeth Bleaching

Teeth Whitening or Bleaching?Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, and I confess that I use them interchangeably when explaining the concept of teeth whitening to patients, there is a subtle difference in the way that the FDA defines them that can help you choose the best product for your needs.

Teeth whiteningrefers to whitening teeth back to their natural, white color.  Toothpastes are advertised as teeth whitening because they contain abrasives that remove stain from teeth, but most teeth whitening toothpastes do not contain any chemicals that bleach the teeth.

Teeth bleaching refers to whitening teeth beyond their natural white color so that they appear whiter than normal.  This is usually accomplished through gels or strips that are applied to the teeth at home or in the dental office.

If you were wondering, the young woman pictured above has undergone teeth bleaching, as her teeth are much whiter than natural and in my opinion they are too white!

Conclusion

If a product claims to whiten your teeth, it may only be able to restore your teeth to their original shade of white.  However, if a product claims to bleach your teeth, then it is capable of making your teeth whiter than they originally were when they first came into your mouth.

A product that bleaches the teeth is allowed to use the phrase whitening, but a product that only removes stain from your teeth is notallowed to use the phrase bleaching when referring to their product.

Do you have any questions or comments about teeth whitening or teeth bleaching?  I’d love to read them in the comments section below!  Thanks for reading!

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Teeth Whitening Defective Gel
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Today, I watched a news report about a teeth whitening scam company called White Overnight. The news report was able to uncover some interesting facts about what this company does.

White TeethI have embedded the news report below, at the end of this article. Here’s some of the things that the Channel 2 News special investigative report uncovered:

  • The whitening trays that are included are bulky and do not form to the teeth very well. This type of tray has trouble holding the whitening gel right up to the teeth so the whitening isn’t very effective. Also, it can push the whitening gel onto the gums, which can cause a harmful burn. Finally, the whitening tray didn’t even fit on the new reporter’s back teeth, it was too short
  • The whitening system costs over $100 every two months. For the same results, you could just get a professional whitening from your dentist. This is potentially more safe since all of the whitening materials would be coming from reputable sources.
  • Although the gel claimed to contain 35% carbamide peroxide, a lab tested the gel that White Overnight shipped out and found that it contained only 14% carbamide peroxide. That’s two and a half times less than the advertised amount. This makes the gel weak and the whitening less effective.
  • The news reporter tried out the White Overnight system and even used a shade guide from a cosmetic dentist’s office to benchmark his results. Unlike the promises in the advertisement, he found that his teeth didn’t get much whiter after a week. However, the CEO of White Overnight seemed to think that the reporter’s teeth were pretty white!
  • The CEO’s of this teeth whitening scam company weren’t even trained in the dental field. They are former Los Angeles rockstars. Perhaps customers who want to whiten their teeth would be better served by those who have been trained in the care and maintenance of the oral cavity.
  • Although White Overnight claimed that their teeth whitening gel is approved by the FDA, the FDA groups teeth whitening gels with cosmetics and does not regulate them.

Teeth Whitening Scam Company Investigative Report Video

Here’s the video from Channel 2 News:

What do you think of these teeth whitening scam companies? Share your comments below!

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Teeth Whitening Scam Lawsuit
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Teeth Whitening Scams: Their Advertisements
I found this block of ads today while browsing a popular news site. While I can’t speak for the nice mortgage rates, the top two ads both link to teeth whitening scam sites.

You’ve probably seen their advertisements online.  If not, I put some examples to the left.

They all go by different names, like Everbrite, Celebrity Smile, Celebrity White Smile, Dentasmile MD, Idol White, Clean Whites, and many more.  However, they have one thing in common.  They lure the customer in with a “Free Teeth Whitening Trial.”  Once you order, they start charging sometimes hundreds of dollars per month to keep sending you out a small supply of teeth whitening gel each month.

Fortunately, there is now a lawsuit against one of these companies known as Clean Whites.  If you take a look at the Clean Whites website, you will see that they are no longer accepting new orders, but they do say that they are continuing to “serve” their existing customers.  By “serve”, I assume they mean “charge their credit cards.”

If you don’t know how these companies work, I wrote about them a few weeks ago in an article called Yes, the $3 Online Teeth Whitening Offer Is a Scam.

What the Teeth Whitening Scam Lawsuit Means

Hopefully, with the filing of this lawsuit by the Florida Attorney General in the Broward County Circuit Court, there will be more publicity surrounding all of these similar teeth whitening scams.

The Florida Attorney General is asking for restitution to the Clean Whites customers that were ripped off.  Also included in the lawsuit is an injunction that will prohibit the owners of Clean Whites from starting similar companies to take advantage of people who simply want a good deal on teeth whitening products.

The Miami Herald states:

Complaints accuse owners…of billing customers’ cards up to $90 a month, similar to the results of a state investigation of the company. The suit accuses the pair of using misleading advertising and deceptive trade practices, among other issues.

You may also wish to view a similar article from South Florida’s Sun Sentinel newspaper.

Hopefully this lawsuit will succeed and we will see a reduction in these teeth whitening companies.

Of course, a successful lawsuit won’t mean the end of all scams, but it will hopefully make a difference in the lives of a few people who otherwise would have been conned into signing up for an unwanted monthly subscription to a teeth whitening service.

Is it Really a Scam?

My original article on these scams got a comment recently that made me think about this issue.  Here’s what Grant said:

Why do you call these sites a scam? People have eyes, they can read the screen. They know what they are buying. If they are dumb enough to think that the companies will just give away their product without making any money then they deserve what’s coming to them. Just a thought.

In my opinion, it is a scam.  A scam is when people intentionally being ripped off.  People who bought into the free trial of teeth whitening products simply wanted a good deal.  After all, that’s what the advertisements promised.  I’m sure nobody wanted to be billed a few hundred dollars for a “subscription activation” fee and hundreds of dollars a month to receive teeth whitening products.

In order to show that this is a scam, let’s compare this service with another service, cell phones.  Let’s say someone walks by a cell phone kiosk in a mall and wants to get a new phone.  They see an enticing advertisement that offers a “free” telephone with a two year service agreement.  This makes sense to the customer because they know that in order to give away the phone, the cell phone company has to make up their loss in the form of subscription fees.  It also costs them to provide mobile phone service to the customer.

The customer is satisfied paying a monthly fee because they know they are getting something of value each month.  The cell phone companies even make this monthly fee very clear by forcing the customer to choose a monthly plan and compare and contrast the different plans.

However, with this teeth whitening scam, the companies deceive the customer by acting like they are simply giving away the teeth whitening gel and pretending to only need credit card information to pay for shipping and handling.  In fine print, they do mention that they will be charging the customer hundreds of dollars each month.  This is where the scam begins.  Unlike the cell phone company, the teeth whitening companies are not offering a value to their customers.  They are charging many times more than what the product is worth, hoping to snare a few customers into their trap.

Comparing Teeth Whitening Scams to a Subscription Fruit Model

How would you feel if you went to the grocery store to buy a peach.  You pay with your credit card and sign the slip.  You failed to notice that on the credit card slip, you were signing up to an peach subscription agreement.  The agreement states that everyday for the next month, a peach will get delivered to your mailbox.  The grocery store charges you $19.95 per delivery.  Before you know it, you’ve racked up a $600 bill in a month’s time.

That grocery store would most likely face lawsuits and go out of business for their deceptive business practices.

This is exactly how these teeth whitening scams operate, and I think it’s unethical.  Do you?

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Visit Dentist Before Teeth Whitening
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Everyone wants white teeth.  Let’s face it, a beautiful smile makes almost everyone more attractive!

Beautiful White SmileBut before you call the number on the latest infomercial at visit the teeth whitening kiosk at your local mall, you may want to visit your dentist.

Here are six reasons why:

1. You may have dental problems that you don’t know about. It is best not to whiten your teeth until your mouth is healthy.  Whitening a tooth that has reversible pulpitis (a reversible irritation of the dental pulp), for example, could irritate the dental pulp sufficiently to push that tooth over the edge requiring a costly root canal treatment.

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Whitening Toothpaste Not Working
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Many people buy so-called “Teeth Whitening” toothpaste hoping to get whiter teeth.  For many people, these toothpastes do not provide whiter teeth.  Is this a form of false advertising?  Actually, it’s not.

ToothpasteThe confusion lies in the definition of teeth whiteningTeeth whitening in its strictest sense means to whiten the teeth to their natural shade.  Teeth bleaching, on the other hand means to whiten your teeth beyond their natural shade.

The reason there is so much confusion is because the phrase teeth bleaching isn’t very attractive.  So, companies that offer teeth bleaching, have started to refer to it as teeth whitening to make it more attractive to the average consumer.

In order for a toothpaste, mouthwash, or gum to be certified by the ADA as tooth whitening, it simply has to be able to remove surface stains off of your teeth.

How Teeth Get Stained

When our permanent teeth come in, they are a shiny white color.  However, as we grow older (and eat lots of teeth-staining foods), our teeth get more and more yellowish-brown.  Teeth Whitening toothpaste can remove tobacco stains, coffee stains, and other stains that we get as we go through our everyday lives.

Unfortunately, tooth whitening toothpastes can only return our teeth back to their original color. The toothpaste contains very gentle abrasives that rub against the stain and gradually remove it.

Why Teeth Whitening Toothpaste May Not Whiten Your Teeth

If you don’t drink coffee much or chew tobacco, there’s a good chance that your teeth aren’t stained at all.  In this case, if you use tooth whitening toothpaste, you probably won’t notice a difference in how white your teeth are.

Also, in the last ten years, it seems that all toothpastes are “teeth whitening”.  Chance are, you’ve already been brushing with “tooth whitening” toothpaste.  Continuing to brush with “tooth whitening” toothpaste isn’t going to make your teeth any whiter since you’ve already removed the stains with previous tubes of “teeth whitening” toothpaste.

How to Whiten Your Teeth

If you truly want whiter teeth, you will probably want to use a form of teeth bleaching.  Teeth bleaching is designed to whiten your teeth beyond their natural shade.

You should talk to your dentist about teeth whitening options such as in-office gels, Zoom teeth whitening, and take-home teeth whitening gels.

Have you been trying to get your teeth white with toothpaste?  Let us know in the comments.

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Teeth Whitening Trial Offer Scam
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Tooth Whitening Scam Advertisements
Are These Ads Legitimate or Scams?

Lately, it seems as if half of the advertisements on major news websites are advertising a cheap or free tooth whitening trial.  A lot of these offers sound too good to be true.  In response to a question posed to me by a reader, I decided to look into these offers that claim to charge only $1 to $3 in shipping for a month’s worth of tooth whitening supplies.

If they only charge for shipping and handling, I wondered how on earth they were paying for all of the advertisements that they’ve plastered on half of the internet.

After clicking on one of these ads, I came to a page that told me a nice story about a mom who discovered an amazing tooth whitening “trick.”  Here’s the problem: the story is a lie.