Teeth whitening is a multi-billion dollar industry, and for good reason – who doesn’t want a brighter smile? But, when it comes to saving some cash, over-the-counter products like teeth whitening pens, gels, & strips may not be the best option, as you could be exposing yourself to several risks that you wouldn’t encounter with professional teeth whitening. So, while these products may be affordable, are they truly worth the savings? Let’s find out.
5 Risks Associated With Over-the-Counter Whitening Products
At first glance, purchasing a teeth whitening pen, a gel syringe, or even whitening strips, may seem like a good buy. You get a quick, easy teeth whitening solution for a fraction of the cost of professional teeth whitening. However, what many people don’t realize is that over-the-counter products carry a number of risks, ranging from mild discomforts to more serious side effects.
1. Tooth Sensitivity: Perhaps the most common side effect of teeth whitening with over-the-counter products is tooth sensitivity. This can be caused by an improper use of products, such as leaving it on for too long or applying incorrectly. For example, if you choose to use whitening strips that stay on for long periods of time, or “extra fast” whitening kits, these can cause higher levels of tooth sensitivity because your teeth are exposed to the bleaching agents for longer, and at higher percentages.
2. Gum Irritation: If you’ve ever bought a whitening kit that comes with a tray, you know that these are not custom-fit to your mouth, and so it’s super easy to get the bleaching agents onto your gums. When this happens, it can cause major gum irritation, burning sensations, bleeding, and for some individuals, it may cause a whitening of the gums.
3. Enamel Erosion: Your enamel is the top layer of your teeth, and its role is to act as a barrier, protecting your teeth from bacteria and tooth decay. When you lose this protective barrier, your risk for tooth decay significantly increases, which if left untreated, can cause infections, tooth sensitivity, teeth chipping, tooth loss, and even tooth abscesses. The issue with over-the-counter tooth whitening pens, gels, and strips is that they can quickly erode the enamel by using excessively abrasive chemicals. A study in 2019 found that a common active ingredient found in over-the-counter products, sodium chlorite, significantly reduced the hardness of teeth, opening them up to future surface abrasions.
4. Illegal Limits of Hydrogen Peroxide: A common ingredient used in over-the-counter teeth whitening products is hydrogen peroxide. While the legal limit on this is 0.1% in home products, studies have found that teeth whitening pens, & gels bought online contain significantly more than the legal limit. We’re talking anywhere from 15-30%, which can lead to major side effects, tooth erosion, tooth loss, and chipping. So, if you’re planning to purchase over-the-counter teeth whitening products from companies like Wish, Amazon, AliExpress, or eBay, double check that hydrogen peroxide level.
5. Undesired Results: With over-the-counter teeth whitening products, you’re far more likely to get uneven results, especially if you’re going for a dramatic change in tooth color. This can be caused by several factors such as incorrect use, uneven teeth structure, and even the type of teeth whitening product you’re using. Some teeth whitening products can also have a “glaze” effect and leave teeth looking unnaturally white.
So, is it worth the savings? The answer may be a resounding no. If you’re looking to whiten your teeth safely and effectively, we recommend speaking with one of our dentists here at Spring Haven Dental. Our professional teeth whitening treatments are proven to deliver dramatic, long-lasting results in as little as one appointment, and without the risks that over-the-counter teeth whitening products have. Don’t risk your teeth for a temporary change, instead, talk to us today and see what we can do for you!