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How do I Choose the Best Teeth Whitening Gels?

By Mandi R. Hall
Updated May 17, 2024
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Teeth whitening gels may be used at home and in dentist offices. At-home teeth whitening may be performed with myriad cosmetic bleaching tools. Teeth whitening gels and strips are the most popular means. Used to remove stains and brighten teeth, these systems are generally quick and easy to use. Dentists can recommend a teeth bleaching system that is right for you and your teeth.

At the dental office, a dentist might use laser bleaching to accomplish the whitening process. During this procedure, the dental staff applies teeth whitening gel onto the patient’s teeth. Though there are many different processes, the typical next step involves a pulsating light. This light, whether a light-emitting diode (LED) or halogen light, is known to make the reaction between the teeth and the hydrogen peroxide gel more powerful.

Dental and orthodontic teeth whitening procedures are often more expensive than at-home teeth bleaching products. Insurance plans typically don’t cover cosmetic teeth bleaching, and dentists rarely do it for free. Many dentists can provide patients with at-home bleaching kits for a more minimal cost.

People who choose an at-home method instead should consult a dentist beforehand to make sure the teeth and gums are strong enough. A person who already has sensitive teeth is not recommended to bleach her teeth. If she does, however, she should choose a system of teeth whitening gels with a low overall percentage of oxidizing agents. Furthermore, if a consumer is physically uncomfortable with the idea of using mouth guards, gel may not be right for her. If the risk of gum damage and permanent tooth sensitivity is too scary for someone, that person should also avoid teeth bleaching gels.

For those who choose to continue teeth whitening without a dentist, other products are likely available. Cost-conscious teeth whitening gels are generally sold at the local drug store. Even more of these bleaching products are sold online. Starting at a few dollars, these kits may consist of mouth guards or trays, mouth strips and tubes, or pens filled with gel. At-home whitening processes are considered less intense and less effective, overall.

Teeth whitening gels work due to an oxygenating process. Some gels have a recommended usage of once a day for five minutes. Other gels may be used twice a day for up to 20 minutes at a time. The suggested time limits are labeled on the box for safety reasons. The more concentrated the oxidizing agent — usually hydrogen peroxide — is, the more likely tooth sensitivity will occur.

Some toothpaste products may also be considered teeth whitening gels. These toothpastes claim to have whitening ingredients that brighten teeth and remove stains. These products may be completely gel, or they may consist of a gel and paste combination. Additionally, there are myriad whitening pre-rinse mouthwashes available. These types of mouthwashes are used before brushing or using home bleaching systems.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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