If you've spent any amount of time on social media, you've probably seen your favourite TV star or influencer advertising a teeth whitening kit. Whether it be the LED lights or a gel kit, you've probably seen it all.
But before you fall prey to that super convincing Instagram ad or Facebook post, there are a few things you should know about teeth whitening kits bought online.
Read on for seven things you should know before committing to an expensive kit
1. No one really knows if the ingredients are safe
If you buy something online, you might just assume everything you purchase is safe, right? With teeth whitening kits, unfortunately, that isn't the case.
A lot of the LED whitening kits use a combination of sodium bicarbonate (if you think that sounds familiar, it's literally the same baking soda you can buy at the grocery store) and sodium chlorite. There really isn't a lot of research to support whether they are safe or not when used in combination, especially with an LED light.
Most dentists will use hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide, both of which are well researched, are safe and can actually break down stains.
When you go to the dentist for a whitening session, your dentist has to use a product and ingredient combination that has been tried and tested as safe for use.
It’s not only the ingredients you need to things about. The LED light may also not have been properly tested and have long-term safety data.
2. Teeth whitening kits don't contain a huge amount of the active ingredient that makes your teeth white
In Australia, only dentists can legally obtain and use higher concentrated bleaching agents such as carbamide peroxide.
Many of these online teeth whitening kits only contain about 18% of the active ingredient to whiten your teeth. While it can help, you definitely won't get the same results you'd get at a dentist.
3. The LED light doesn't come with the protective gear a dentist uses
Your dentist will likely use an LED lamp if you get your teeth whitened professionally. You may think that this is pretty much the same as using one of the products purchased online.
While in both cases, the LED light helps accelerate the whitening process, a dentist applies a protective barrier over your gums to prevent damage. The at-home kits don't come with those.
At the moment, there isn't much research to say concretely what long-term exposure will do to your gums, but if you're going the DIY route, you shouldn't overdo it with the light.
4. The trays won't exactly fit you like a glove!
When you go to a dentist to have your teeth whitened, they’ll make you a custom tray. The tray will be totally moulded to your teeth and will ensure the gel gets placed evenly on your pearly whites.
DIY kits usually come with trays you place in boiling water and then mould onto your teeth. While this does create a “custom tray”, it isn't anywhere near as good as the one a dentist can make you. As a result, you may have parts of your teeth that don't get the gel put on them, as there may be gaps in the trays.
5. Don't always trust the reviews
Many people do research for their online DIY teeth whitening kits (or any product before they purchase it), and that may include reading reviews. Some people may even be persuaded to buy a DIY kit after not only seeing their favourite celebrity promote it but also a plethora of really good reviews.
You should be wary of these reviews, as they don't always present the entire picture. The reviews could be biased. Many of the companies provide incentives for individuals to give reviews, such as additional gels or kits. This incentive could influence the review provided.
6. A DIY kit can't assure you're a good candidate for teeth whitening
Before you have your teeth whitened at a dentist's office, he or she will check your gums and teeth and ensure they're healthy. Considerations like bleeding gums, chipped teeth, cavities or cracked teeth can not only disrupt the whitening process but cause you serious pain.
Not everyone has stains on their teeth that can be removed by whitening. A dentist will tell you if this is your case, so you may actually purchase the kits only to have it not work at all.
Tetracycline stains caused by antibiotics will not respond to DIY kits, and your dentist would need to discuss other options with you. Additionally, crowns and veneers will not whiten either, so if you are unhappy with their colour, your dentist can assist.
If you're still keen to go down the DIY route, it is a good idea to at least plan a check-up or to order the kit not too long after you've had one.
7. They don't provide a lasting solution
Despite their claims of whiter and brighter teeth, your smile won't last all that long. Teeth whitening kits will only keep your teeth whiter for 1-3 months, which isn't all that long in the grand scheme of things.
Many also recommend that you continue using the LED light and gel once a week. As mentioned previously, the long-term effects of this are still not known. Therefore, you could be doing serious damage to your mouth just to keep up appearances.
Short of porcelain veneers, there is no permanent solution to a whiter smile. This applies to what's done at the dentist's office as well, though he or she can give you a smile that lasts longer than the results of your DIY kit.
What to do if you want whiter teeth for good?
While there is no permanent solution that doesn't require top-ups, here at TL Dental, we use Zoom! Whitening system.
This is because it has proven and quick results that a DIY teeth whitening kit just can't match.
When you get Zoom! Whitening at TL Dental, you'll also get custom trays to use at home.
Because we're committed to keeping your smile at its brightest for the rest of your life, you'll get a free top-up syringe with each check-up. This way, you can actually achieve longer lasting results.
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