Best teeth whitening treatment: Supermarket, chemist or dentist?

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There are loads of teeth-whitening products out there with different costs and methods. It’s all a bit baffling. So, which are the best, safest and most effective?

Teeth whitening is one of the most common forms of dental treatment and can be a cheap way to improve the colour and appearance of teeth.

The practice, according to government-backed health website Health Direct, involves a bleaching chemical (hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide) that soaks through the top layer of the enamel and into the dentine. It becomes lighter and the teeth look whiter.

Being treated by a dentist is more effective and safer than over-the-counter treatments, the website states.

There are many different teeth-whitening treatments on the market.
media_cameraThere are many different teeth-whitening treatments on the market.

But it can go wrong. Mum Clare Clark said she ended up with oversized lips after taking up an online offer for a $A112 at-home treatment.

Earlier this year, she told UK newspaper The Sun that the treatment left her ashamed of her appearance.

“When I woke up, I could just feel something was wrong,” she said.

“I couldn’t even look in a mirror at first, then I caught sight of myself in a window and thought, ‘Oh my God’.

“I think people thought I’d had lip fillers.”

Dentists offer many teeth-whitening options. Picture: Chris Pavlich
media_cameraDentists offer many teeth-whitening options. Picture: Chris Pavlich

Casey Smiles Dental Clinic founder and dentist Dr Mohamed Massaud said there were big differences between store-bought kits and treatments from a dentist.

“Given dentists are the only people able to administer whitening gel with a high percentage of peroxide, all the products at pharmacies and supermarkets have very low concentrations of hydrogen peroxide,” Dr Massaud said.

“As a result, these products often show minimal visible results compared to the solution offered in a dental chair.”

Casey Smiles Dental Clinic founder and dentist Dr Mohamed Massaud
media_cameraCasey Smiles Dental Clinic founder and dentist Dr Mohamed Massaud

Whitening toothpaste contained a small percentage of hydrogen peroxide and the results were minimal, Dr Massaud said.

The Melbourne-based dentist added whitening toothpaste could also be more abrasive than non-whitening toothpaste and strip away enamel.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration, which administers the sale of health products, states pharmacy and supermarket-bought whitening products can contain 6 per cent or less hydrogen peroxide and 18 per cent or less carbamide peroxide.

Higher-strength whitening products can only been provided by dentists.

Professional whitening is the more effective way to achieve the best results. But it can also be more expensive.

People could experience different outcomes with various whitening products, Dr Massaud said, with older teeth requiring additional treatments to achieve the best results.

“When undertaking a regular check-up with your dentist, you can also explore ways to touch up your teeth and keep them as white as possible. Have a chat to your dentist to find out what they can offer,” he said.

Originally published as Pitfalls of picking teeth-whitening treatments

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