Teeth Whitening Effectiveness, Claims and Safety

A bright smile can be one of your best assets. Smiling not only makes you more attractive, but it can make you appear more charismatic. When flashing your pearly whites, you want to be confident that you’re showing off a smile free from yellowing and stains. This is why new whitening products appear on the market each year and it is one of the most popular dental requests. With all the products on the market, many questions arise on the claims of teeth whitening effectiveness and whats safe to use.

When it comes to the most effective professional whitening solutions, Tru Family Dental recommends the time-tested take home whitening trays. Based on cost, comfort, safety and overall effectiveness these are a good choice in teeth whitening for most patients. Dr Yang from the Crystal Lake office explains that whitening options besides take home have a possibility of unpredictable and inadequate results which may be unsatisfactory. He recommends that ‘rapid’ in office whitening treatments be discussed with patients on a case by case basis due to possible discomfort and sensitivity.

Patients interested in professional teeth whitening treatments should plan a consultation with their dentist to determine the most appropriate treatment option(s) and recommendations based on their lifestyle, financial considerations, and oral health. A pretreatment examination and routine monitoring allows for professional assessment of each patient’s situation to minimize problems and manage any adverse effects.

For a general overview of the most commonly available whitening options, our guide to teeth whitening takes a look at the options available, their whitening claims and safety.

Teeth Whitening Options and Claims


The purpose of all toothpaste is to remove surface stains on the teeth with mild abrasives. Whitening toothpastes have special polishing agents or chemicals that can give the toothpaste extra stain removal power.

Claims: Some whitening toothpastes over claim their effectiveness. In reality, whitening toothpastes can lighten your tooth’s color by one shade.

Safety: Generally, whitening toothpastes are safe. Look for toothpastes with the seal of the American Dental Association (ADA). This ensures that it meets the ADA’s guidelines for safety and effectiveness.

Over-the-counter gels and strips

Products like gels are usually clear and peroxide-based. They can be applied with a small brush directly to the surface of the teeth. Results can appear in about a few days or a week and last for three to four months.

Whitening strips, which have increased in popularity in the last decade, are thin strips coated with a peroxide-based gel. These are applied to the teeth once or twice a day for up to 14 days. The results are similar to gels.

Claims: whitening strips claim to give you “dramatic whitening effects after treatment,” which can be approximately three shades lighter. These can provide short-term whitening (from six months to a year), but are not the choice for more long lasting results.

Safety: These products are not endorsed by the ADA, because the organization contends that professional consultation is required for use. Colgate states that the gel used is “considered safe for adults, but children and women who are pregnant should consult their physician before using.” The most common side effects are tooth and gum sensitivity caused by the bleaching agent. The side effect is usually temporary and will cease within three days after stopping treatment.

Whitening Trays

Prior to the invention of strips, tray systems were one of the most popular methods for at-home whitening. Using trays involves filling a mouth guard-like tray with a gel solution and then wearing it for a couple of hours a day or during the night for up to a month. These can be purchased over the counter or prescribed by a dentist.

Claims: Some claims for trays say that they can whiten teeth by up to 8 shades.

Safety: The same issues as the strips apply to trays. The ADA recommends consulting with a dentist prior to using any at-home whitening treatments.


One of the newest whitening methods available is the whitening rinse. In addition to freshening breath and reducing plaque, these rinses also have hydrogen peroxide, which whitens teeth. It can take up to three months to see results with this method.

Claims: Using the rinse for 60 seconds twice a day will show results after about three months. This can take much longer than other products due to the minimal contact the rinse has with your teeth and may lighten by one shade.

Safety: These products currently don’t have the ADA seal of acceptance. Check their list of products for updates.

In-Office Whitening

In-office teeth whitening has built its popularity as quick and effective solution, but does come with some considerations. Treatment may resist certain stains and those with tooth and gum hypersensitivity may encounter discomfort. At Tru Family Dental, availability of in office bleaching varies by location and patients are encouraged to discuss treatments with their dentist to determine the most appropriate solution.

Claims: Light-activated whitening conducted in your dentist’s office can make your teeth three to eight shades lighter. This method also lasts longer because of the strength of the bleaching agent used.

Safety: The ADA recommends a full exam by your dentist as well as a sequenced treatment plan before the treatments are given. This method is done under the supervision of your dentist to decrease the likelihood of any adverse effects. This is also more expensive than take home whitening trays, and may not be effective for every patient due to hereditary factors and types of stains. Concerns for side effects related to hypersensitivity do exist.

Choosing a whitening treatment that is right for you can be complicated, because there are so many options available. Contact us to consult with one of our dentists to determine your own whitening needs. Our dentists will take time to discuss your expectations and develop a plan that will lead you toward a whiter, brighter smile.

Posted In: Cosmetic Dentistry & Whitening