We're sure most of you by now would have seen, heard about or even purchased one of these DIY Teeth Whitening Kits online.
Just like the majority, we're seduced by the idea of an affordable, fuss-free teeth whitening option at the comfort of our own homes.
As it also uses the power of our smart phones, we could be texting or scrolling through Instagram while getting our teeth whitened!
Eagerly, we purchased a set for ourselves online.
Average pricing can range from $20 all the way to $80.
When the parcel arrived, we couldn't deny how impressed we were with its minimalistic packaging, good quality box, and adorable touches of butterfly motifs on the product.
But I guess it's in the nature of man to start feeling a little paranoid when things seem a little too good to be true.
So the team at TCR sought a professional's advice on this.
While the most common question people would ask is
"Does It Really Work?",
Dr Gerald Tan from Elite Dental says that the right questions to ask would be:
"Is It Safe For Me?" and "How effective is the treatment?"
BEAUTIFUL is just one of the many over the counter teeth whitening kits that we can find in the market today.
Its sale and distribution is not governed by MOH because by law, beauticians and therapists (or anyone actually) are allowed to get these teeth whitening gels as long as the peroxide level in the product is under 1%, and as long as it is approved by HSA.
Peroxide is a bleaching agent that is commonly found in professional teeth whitening products administered by trained dental surgeons.
Its effective concentration is usually between 15% to 32%.
Over the counter teeth whitening kits often do not contain peroxide! Instead, some other "organic" gel is included in the package of unknown origin and untested by a reputable scientific dental body.
Studies have shown that peroxide (of the correct concentration) is the most effective teeth whitening ingredient available today.
Only dental surgeons are legally able to procure peroxide, bleaching and oxidizing agents of higher concentration because these procedures are done within the confinements and safety of a licensed clinic.
Does this mean it doesn't work?
Low concentration of peroxide (1% or less) means that the efficacy of the whitening kit is extremely limited and sometimes questionable.
If the whitening gel does not contain peroxide, the efficacy is even more questionable.
Very often, patients may complain that there is absolutely no effect at all, or even if there is, the effect only lasts hours or a few days at best.
What does the blue light do?
The blue light provided in the teeth whitening kit is simply blue LED light.
It's different from UV light and Laser (otherwise a lot of us who bought the kit would have eyesight problems already).
In confines of a licensed dental clinic, such lights are required to activate the peroxide that is painted onto teeth.
What should you take note of?
More importantly, beauticians or ourselves as individuals are not trained to indicate or contraindicate these teeth whitening procedures.
Non-professionals do not screen patients to determine if they are suitable for teeth whitening.
This puts the individual at risk, and serious damage could result.
Some examples of contraindications include but are not limited to:
- If you have hidden decay in front teeth, it could cause extreme pain if you proceed with whitening
- If you have advanced gum disease or gum bleeding, teeth whitening may cause extreme gum issues and gum burns
- If you have weak gums, you may be susceptible to injuries during teeth whitening procedure
- If you have dental crowns and caps, teeth whitening wouldn't work for you.
- If you have brown spots or grey bands across your teeth (antibiotic staining - tetracycline), it can't be solved with teeth whitening as well
What is inside the gel exactly?
While the packaging of the product conveniently omits the ingredients inside the gel, TCR is still trying to contact the original manufacturer to find out, as of now, its contents are unknown and not approved by HSA and efficacy untested by a reputable dental body
These over the counter teeth whitening kits may work for some in a very limited fashion, but the long term effectiveness and safety of it is in question.
If the effect only lasts a day or two, compared to getting it done at a dental clinic which lasts for at least 1 year, it ultimately depends on the individual's discipline and your budget.
For individuals with healthy teeth and gums, these teeth whitening kits may not cause long term harm, and some of us may even see certain whitening effects.
However, with the view that many of us are not even aware that we may have dental problems unless first screened by a dental surgeon, we would highly advise you against trying these over the counter teeth whitening kits.
Instead, make an appointment with a trained professional and ask him/her for the options available to improve your smile - Smile Makeover, Veneers, Zoom teeth whitening etc.
Credits toDr Gerald Tan from Elite Dental Group for the above information.