What is the Best Whitening System?

What is the best whitening system that produces great results? 

How much does it cost to achieve the best whitening results fast?

How long will it take to get my teeth white?

What is the best hassle-free whitening process on the market?

How fast and how white can I get my teeth? 

Are the tooth whitening kits purchased from the store as effective as professional whitening performed in-office?

While marketing and advertising generate buzz about the latest products, there still seems to be some confusion — and even debate — about the best way to achieve whiter teeth. Consumers want to know: What is the best whitening system? Which whitening system produces the number one results? How much does it cost to achieve the best whitening results? How long will it take to get whiter teeth?

It seems that it is hard for most individuals to justify the added expense of in-office professional whitening from their dentist. In-office whitening generally costs anywhere from $200 to more than $500. On the other hand, an over-the-counter whitening kit often costs less than eighty dollars. The big picture is that store-bought whitening kits don’t tend to work as well or as quickly. But why?

Still wondering…”what is the best whitening system?”

OTC, or over-the-counter whitening systems, such as Whitestrips by Crest®, use hydrogen peroxide as the primary and active ingredient. Hydrogen peroxide is also the same active ingredient that is used in many professional whitening systems. However, the concentration is generally much lower. In the case of Crest® Whitestrips, this low concentration of hydrogen peroxide is mixed into a gel (glycerin). This same gel that is found on the back of the whitening strips. Unfortunately, when this glycerin gel is applied to the teeth, it covers the teeth and a portion of the gum tissue.

Does in-office whitening use Hydrogen Peroxide?

For this reason, the concentration of any hydrogen peroxide in the gel must be kept as low as possible. If the amount of hydrogen peroxide is too high, it can cause chemical burns to the gum tissue. This gel will whiten teeth, but it occurs over time. Because the concentration of Hydrogen peroxide is so low, it takes much more time. Likewise, more frequent applications are required versus a professional whitening system. But, how are the professional systems different?

The two most noticeable differences between an OTC whitening system and a professional system are:

#1. The difference in concentration of the whitening agent. 

Over-the-counter bleaching systems like those from Crest® (Whitestrips) use 10% hydrogen peroxide. Professional bleaching systems use up to 45% carbamide peroxide to provide their bleaching effects. 

Our professional in-office whitening products do not contain any hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide leads to severe sensitivity. Also, it takes longer to see results when using Hydrogen peroxide. Instead, we use carbamide peroxide. Carbamide peroxide penetrates deeper leading to a whiter, brighter smile more quickly.

Store-bought whitening strips can easily slide around. Thus, they produce extra sensitivity even though they have a weaker bleaching solution concentration. Whitening strips purchased in-store contain only a maximum of 10% hydrogen peroxide, but they create sensitivity by sliding around and irritating gums. Professional level bleaching, which offers the best whitening system today, contains 35-45% Carbamide peroxide | CH6N2O3 – PubChem

Image containing information about store-bought whitening strips vs professional whitening solution.

#2. The greatest disadvantage of store-bough whitening strips is that the strips easily slide around. Thus, they produce extra sensitivity despite a weaker bleaching solution. 

A store-bought whitening kit is a one size fits all and is not an exact fit. Professional options, which tend to be the best whitening system today, use custom-made “trays.” Custom made trays hold the whitening gel in direct contact with the teeth preventing any contact with gum tissue. Professional teeth whitening trays are a thin, flexible shell of clear plastic that gently rests over the teeth, forming a barrier along the gum line.

Custom trays, which comprise the best whitening system, are fabricated with small pockets or reservoirs to directly hold the hydrogen peroxide gel on each tooth’s fronts. Because the trays are custom made, impressions of the teeth must be made on the first visit. Thus, any duplicate or subsequent impressions of the teeth can be made with a “plaster-like” substance.

Whitening tray over teeth with seal along gum line (indicated by the arrows) for the best whitening system.
Fig. 1—Whitening tray over teeth with seal along gum line (arrows).
Image of plaster models of teeth that are used when making trays for a whiter smile.
Fig. 2—Plaster models of teeth used to create clear plastic whitening trays.

On the second visit, we will try the newly made plastic trays to ensure superior fit and excellent comfort. At that time, detailed instructions will be given to the patient regarding how to dispense the proper amount of whitening gel into the trays.

Image of whitening solution being applied to custom trays.
Fig. 3—Loading bleaching gel into the plastic tray.
NFD banner about using and caring for custom whitening trays.

Learn more at:

How long will it take to get my teeth whiter even if I use the best whitening system?

Generally speaking, the age of teeth, the amount of initial staining, and the amount of enamel determines just how long you may need to whiten your teeth. Younger patients tend to have fewer stains and more enamel versus that of older patients.

Image of a banner about teeth whitening for children from NFD.

Read more about teeth whitening in young kids.

What is the best method of whitening for fast, effective results? 

Our dentists use the Opalescence® system.

The benefits of Opalescence® system are:

  • Opalescence® tooth whitening gel contains PF (potassium nitrate and fluoride), which helps maintain enamel’s health throughout the whitening process.
  • Formulated to prevent dehydration and shade relapse.
  • Opalescence® in-office whitening contains 35% Carbamide peroxide CH6N2O3 – PubChem concentration.
  • Custom trays are used to apply sticky, viscous gel that won’t migrate to soft tissues.

How fast and how white can I get my teeth? What are the factors that influence the whitening results?

The answer is that it entirely depends on how dark and stained the teeth are initially, the level of whitening desired, and how frequently whitening gel is applied.

The whitening’s final results depend on the initial tooth color shade. Comparatively, patients that have a more yellow hue have a much greater response to whitening versus those with more gray or brown hue. Every patient has a unique and inherent whitening potential. 

What is initial tooth color shade or inherent whitening potential?

Unique and inherent whitening potential – is a level at which our teeth won’t whiten anymore, and this varies from person to person. Ultimately, our teeth whitening amount is controlled by our genes and the amount of enamel on our teeth. Of course, some people can achieve great whitening results, and some can not get those super white teeth. Those particular individuals might want to consider dental veneers or crowns for achieving a bright, white smile.

Check out this smile and the little amount of enamel. You can see thin enamel and not much tooth enamel structure remains. This particular patient would not be able to get her teeth super white with whitening products. Dental veneers or crowns would be her only choice to get super white teeth.

Image of a smile with stained teeth.

Another patient case shows extraordinary whitening results. This patient has lots of enamel, which led to excellent and fast teeth whitening results.

Before and after image of a happy patient from Nebraska Family Dentistry with whiter teeth.

In conclusion, the best whitening system is one that is of professional grade. Professional whitening systems produce better results because they have custom made trays and stronger whitening solutions. 

For some patients with a minimal amount of enamel or severely worn teeth, teeth whitening may not give them the desired results. In the end, those patients should consider dental veneers or crowns to achieve super white teeth. 

Our dentists are more than willing to help you decide the best teeth whitening method for you. A confident smile is a beautiful smile. If you have more questions, please feel free to give us a call. We’re here to help!

Additional CAQs you may have about teeth whitening: 

Why does teeth bleaching create sensitivity?

Reason #1: Tooth dehydration. A large concentration of hydrogen peroxide naturally dehydrates the teeth during bleaching. In addition, using a UV or LED light makes can cause even more sensitivity!

Reason #2: Gums become sensitive due to teeth whitening solution spilling over. For this reason, custom trays are essential. Equally important, be sure to take extra care and do not to add too much whitening solution.

Is Teeth Whitening Safe?

Teeth bleaching and whitening is one of the safest cosmetic procedures we do in dentistry.

At the concentrations we use in dentistry (5%-38%), it doesn’t damage the enamel. Likewise, there is no softening, stripping, or abnormal wear of the enamel associated with whitening.

What does bleaching do to the enamel? 

According to research, at the concentrations we use in dentistry (5%-38%), it doesn’t damage the enamel. Not to mention, there is no softening, stripping, or abnormal wear of the enamel associated with whitening. 

How old must you be to do teeth whitening?

Dental professionals recommend not beginning the whitening process before the age of 13. Do keep in mind, however, this may vary depending on the patient. Due to the enlarged pulp chamber in children and young adults, the teeth’ nerves can be very sensitive. Therefore, it may not be advisable.

How long will teeth whitening results last?

Teeth whitening results generally tend to leave you with a stunning smile long after treatment. Do remember, though, that some factors can make teeth lose their shine; things like diet, genetics, age, medications (like tetracycline), and individual habits (such as smoking) can all affect the length of time that your whitening results will last. Fortunately, however, touch-up treatments are easy and quick. Thus, you can get that bright, white smile back quickly. 

What about whitening my existing dental work? 

Can I whiten a filling or crown? Is there a “best whitening system” for restorations?

No. Unfortunately, only natural tooth structure can be whitened. Any crowns or fillings you have will not react to whitening products. If you have a crown or a visible filling, you may want to talk to your dentist about different options to improve your smile.

Does Charcoal Toothpaste Work for Whitening Teeth? Although charcoal tooth products can make teeth feel extremely clean and smooth, there are some disadvantages. Charcoal is more abrasive than regular toothpaste. So, it is to avoid using charcoal toothpaste daily. Learn more…/trending-hygiene…/

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