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 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?
I 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.
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!