Teeth-Brightening Options

You want a bright smile, but you are not sure of the best way to achieve it. We at Boulevard Dental Associates would like to help you explore your options. To do this, we have summarized an online American Dental Association (ADA) article entitled, “Oral Health Topics: Whitening,” that looks at the effectiveness and safety of different teeth brightening methods.

Two Major Teeth-Whitening Options:

The two major options for teeth whitening include over-the-counter (OTC) whitening products and those that are prescribed by your dentist. OTC whitening products include toothpastes, whitening strips, and gels painted directly on teeth or delivered in trays. For these types of products, you want to make sure that they have the ADA Seal of Acceptance. At Boulevard Dental Associates, Dr. Medianick prescribes custom-made trays in which whitening gel can be placed in the trays by patients at home. The trays are made in the office to fit comfortably and in order to minimize the contact of the gel with the gum.

Effectiveness of the Two Options:

The most common ingredients used in the different whitening options are carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide. The peroxide concentration of dentist-prescribed, at-home whitening usually ranges from 10% to 38% carbamide peroxide, and treatment times are based primarily upon the concentration of the gel used. Daily treatment times usually range from 2 to 10 hours for periods of 6 to 28 days. Periodic touch-ups can also be recommended by your dentist. The whitening compounds in OTC products are peroxide-based and typically contain carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide at lower concentrations than dentist-prescribed methods.

Considerations for Teeth Whitening:

When considering teeth-whitening options, your dentist will want to evaluate you for potential causes of teeth discoloration, present restorations, and for a past or recent history of tooth sensitivity. For instance, patients who have tooth-colored restorations (including crowns or implants) should know that only natural teeth will be affected by whitening agents. Also, whitening for children and adolescents is discouraged.

A common adverse effect of OTC and dentist-prescribed, tray-based whitening is tooth sensitivity. This is more prevalent with higher concentrations of whitening material, though this sensitivity is typically mild and transient. Gum irritation can also result from the use of whitening strips or any gel-based product. This is usually due to poor-fitting trays or the improper application of the protective barrier or gel.


When it comes to teeth whitening, you do have options. Which option is the best for you should be decided between you and your dentist. In general, dentist-prescribed whitening systems produce a greater level of whitening in a shorter amount of time compared to OTC whitening methods due to their typically higher concentrations of whitening products. It is also good to be aware that both dentist-prescribed whitening methods and OTC products can cause some tooth and gum sensitivity, and that only natural teeth are able to be affected by whitening products. We at Boulevard Dental Associates hope that you find the best whitening option suitable for you in order to achieve the brighter smile you desire!



American Dental Association. Oral Health Topics: Whitening. https://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/whitening. Accessed October 4, 2021.