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If the type of whitening gel that dentists use is peroxide, why can’t I just rinse with peroxide at home in order to whiten my teeth for a LOT less money?
This is a great question. We all want to save money and do what we can ourselves instead of depending on others. In reality, there are really good reasons NOT to use the over-the-counter peroxide as a means of whitening your teeth.
When you get peroxide at the store, it has a concentration of 3%. The gel your dentist will use will have a concentration of about 33%. That is a significant increase in strength. Crest Whitestrips, which you can purchase over the counter have a very mild whitening effect with a concentration of 6%.
In order for the whitening gel (or peroxide) to have any real effect on the color of your teeth, you will need to keep it in physical contact with your tooth enamel for a minimum of 15 minutes to soak in. While it is possible you could swivel it around in your mouth for that long, though I doubt you’d want to, your saliva will severely dilute even the measly 3% you are getting. This makes it even less effective.
If you are one of those super people that can swish the peroxide for the time required, you will end up with a problem with candida, an oral yeast infection. This is because peroxide not only oxidizes stains but also kills bacteria. Unfortunately, it does not distinguish between good and bad bacteria.
The Solution to these Problems
We already mentioned that a dentist’s whitening gel will be significantly stronger. However, there is a very important additional benefit. The whitening trays. These trays are custom fitted to your bite, so they are comfortable. They also, keep the gel in contact with your teeth with zero effort from you. Because the trays are clear, you can go about your day, even in public, while you are whitening your teeth. While the trays keep the gel on your teeth, they keep the gel out of your mouth. This protects you from any risk of developing an oral yeast infection. Finally, the trays keep the saliva away from the gel, so there is no weakening of the concentration.
Bottom line, could you whiten your teeth with peroxide at home? Maybe, if you’re super diligent and don’t mind the inconvenience, all while it takes forever. Personally, I’d go with the dentist.
This blog is brought to you by Baton Rouge, LA Dentist Dr. John Theriot.