By Last Updated: October 6, 2023

In the quest for the perfect smile, more and more people want whiter and brighter teeth. The most popular way to get it done is through teeth whitening and there are many ways in which this is done. There are professional laser teeth whitening at your dentist’s office or even dentist-prescribed teeth whitening kits. There are also some toothpastes and teeth strips with whitening ingredients.

But perhaps the most common one to use is over-the-counter teeth whitening kits which you can readily buy at your local drugstore. They are easily accessible and most are formulated with good whitening claims that can help you achieve your most radiant smile.

The question is, are over-the-counter teeth whitening kits safe? Yes, they are! But, there are several things that you should know before you use them. Read along to know more about these whiteners and how you can get the most out of their whitening effect!

How do Whitening Kits work?

As with other teeth bleaching treatments, whitening kits contain the primary ingredient peroxide to remove stains and whiten the teeth. However, unlike teeth whitening done at your dentist which needs fancy tools, over-the-counter teeth whiteners feature a do-it-yourself kit intended for convenient home use.

Most readily available teeth whitening kit contains a bleaching agent in either gel or pen form. If with a gel, it should come with a tray that you fill and wear over your teeth for a certain period of time. If it is a whitening pen, it is directly painted over teeth using a brush head.

Some modern whitening kits would also have LED-powered devices. This is a handy piece of equipment used to accelerate the process and enhance the results.

No matter which whitening kit you end up buying, the main process involves applying a bleaching agent that causes a chemical reaction to whiten the teeth. However, different whitening kits work in different ways. So, it is always best to go over the directions of use for a safe and effective treatment.

Are There Side Effects in Using Over-The-Counter Whitening Kits?

Whitening kits are generally very safe for use. However, you can expect some side effects such as:

Gum irritation

If the whitening gel gets in contact with the gums, irritation may occur and it may discolour your gums for a short time. Some discomfort may also be felt. But, this should wear off after a few hours.

Tooth Sensitivity

Sensitivity may occur if you have decay or cavities. It happens when the bleaching material seeps into the tooth and triggers the nerves. It may also occur for people with gum recession or worn-down enamel.

Also, if you are already suffering from tooth sensitivity, you may find an increase in the level of discomfort. Fortunately, this is only temporary and you should feel normal after a while.

What to Consider Before Using an Over-the-Counter Teeth Whitener?

Before you get into the over-the-counter whitening kit train, here are some important reminders from our dentists at Midpark Dental:

Check the ingredient list

Without any peroxide ingredients, the whitening kit is as good as nothing. So, always double-check the ingredients list before you buy for assurance that some bleaching can be achieved.

Read the directions of use

Teeth whitening kits are only effective if done right. Go over the instructions for use several times before you get started on the treatment. Just so you are sure you are going to do it safely.

Handle the bleaching agent with care

Even in its diluted form, the bleaching agent used to whiten the teeth can harm the gums and teeth if used incorrectly. Avoid direct contact to the gums and other soft tissues to prevent any irritation. And use the bleach on the teeth as instructed to prevent overapplication. Otherwise, you may experience long-term sensitivity.

Consult your dentist

Before you use any product on your teeth, it is always best to consult your dentist first. Teeth whitening kits are only effective on stains due to aging or diet. If you have staining from within the tooth, you may need to explore other options for the best results.

Get a teeth cleaning

For teeth whitening to be effective, clean teeth is a good canvas to start with. Plaque, tartar, food debris, and surface stains must be removed to allow the whitening gel to seep into your teeth. Otherwise, the results may not be as even or as bright as you expect.

Have all decay repaired

Tooth decay can cause teeth sensitivity during the whitening process. So, it is better to have the tooth restored to good health first. This will prevent any discomfort during and after the treatment.

Repeated treatments can be expected

Over-the-counter teeth whitening kits are not as potent as laser teeth whitening done at your dentist. Laser teeth whitening can drastically whiten the teeth in just under an hour. Meanwhile, the less concentrated formulation of at-home whitening kits can only achieve up to 3-5 shades of teeth whitening done in several sessions.

Results are slow and short-term

Teeth whitening done at home provides limited results. Even with good oral hygiene, they are not expected to last several months. So, you need to touch-up every now and then to maintain your white smile.

Over-the-Counter Teeth Whitening Kits — Are They Worth It?

The bottom line: over-the-counter teeth whitening kits are safe, convenient, and they are effective. However, as with all dental procedures, they have their pros and cons. It is best to properly go through each one so you can determine if it is the best option for your smile. 

For other whitening treatments, our dentist will gladly help you go over other alternatives. There is the in-office laser teeth whitening or dentist-prescribed whitening kits which feature customized whitening trays.

If you would like to know more about our other cosmetic dental treatments, book your appointment today with our smile experts at Midpark Dental! A quick consultation can help you understand the best route to help you with your dream smile.