Not all in-office dental teeth whitening products are the same, but how can we compare?
Most people know someone who has paid hundreds of dollars to have their smile professionally brightened at a dentist’s office. That person, for whatever reason, paid to have a medical practitioner use a powerful bleach to whiten their teeth. But if asked about it today, despite the costs and the near-surgical experience they endured, they probably won’t remember the name of the product or the treatment they purchased. For most people, the technology their dentist uses to whiten their smiles is a happy mystery. And that’s fine, unless you’re a potential consumer trying to navigate the marketplace. It is difficult for everyday people to determine which is the best product, irrespective of their dentist, for the time and money they’re prepared to invest in the process.
Many Canadians between the ages of 15 – 45 dream of having whiter teeth and bright white smiles and most of these people have pursued some type of teeth whitening remedy at some point in their lives. The folks who get serious about it will probably start by asking their dentist what is the best, and when that happens they’re sure to be sold whatever is on the menu at that clinic. The dentist is their trusted expert, but consumers should realize these business owners have their own agenda. Have they ever personally experienced the same teeth whitening treatments they are selling to the public?
The City of Toronto is an especially confusing cosmetic dentistry marketplace with thousands of dentists selling no less than six competing tooth whitening technologies.
How does in-office Tooth Whitening Work?
An in-office dental whitening treatment is usually performed in a single visit to a dentist’s office that can take as little as forty minutes. In that time consumers can achieve more significant results than multiple sessions whitening at home. Because the enamel bleaching process harnesses what is an otherwise caustic material, it must be done under the scrutiny of a licensed practitioner. Their expertise is required preparing and applying a protective coating on the gum tissue and lips. Next the whitening gel is applied to the teeth. Then an ultraviolet lamp is shined onto the teeth to chemically activate the ingredient which is usually a peroxide in the gel. In-office tooth whitening treatments employ higher concentrations of the bleaching agent in the gel than what’s commonly available in the drugstore. Despite the risks and extra preparations needed to protect soft tissue lips and gums, this cosmetic dental treatment can yield impressive results that are immediately visible.
Teeth whitening has become more popular with the rise of Facebook and Instagram, and the growing availability of the service is making it ubiquitous. There’s over five thousand dentists in the downtown core, and thousands more dental offices thrive in the surrounding boroughs and suburbs. All clinics now offer some type of teeth whitening service to their patients, but most websites do not specifically name the brand of technology they prescribe. Patients seeking a particular brand name service often have to call around and ask the staff at the front desk.
Some dental offices have more than one choice on the menu, but its unlikely that all hygienists employed there have been trained in each different system. Consumers who call or visit Archer Dental for teeth whitening are presented with a choice between two different services. Patients at the Rosedale location can select from either, or Venus Whitening Max and although these are two competing systems most patients would hardly know the difference.
The patient’s experience is similar in both cases, and the results are near equal with GLO being judged superior by the staff at this clinic. Also important is that GLO patents, especially those with sensitive teeth, report less discomfort during and after the process.
GLO Science PRO WHITE is an in-office teeth whitening treatment that combines GLO warming heat and light with professional strength whitening gel. GLO is the new kid on the block. The system appeared last year and is taking over Toronto one dental office at a time. GLO stands for Guided Light Optics (GLO) and their device innovation combines warming heat + light in a closed-system mouthpiece which activate their whitening gel in a low oxygen environment. Below is a photo of Dr. Natalie Archer getting the treatment herself before deciding to feature the product and service in two of her three clinics across the city.
Venus White Max remains a popular choice in Toronto. The Venus in-office whitening system utilizes 38% hydrogen peroxide as the active ingredient with potassium nitrate to minimize sensitivity. Many dental offices also use a light pen as catalyst for the reaction, but this is not required with this material.
Venus does not require an ultraviolet light or any type of whitening light to work. The whitening gel is activated chemically beforehand by mixing the product using a syringe-to-syringe technique (one syringe contains concentrated hydrogen peroxide and the other contains the chemical activator).
Smartbleach 3LT treatment combines an intense green light (but NOT a laser) with a red alkaline gel to create an intense whitening effect within the tooth structure. Smartbleach markets their service as a non-acidic tooth whitening process. This light activated process could mean that Smartbleach 3LT creates whitening without any dehydration or demineralisation of the teeth.
Philips Zoom WhiteSpeed is by far the market leader in Toronto. Six out of every ten dental offices in the downtown core offer Zoom whitening today. This company has improved technology and made it better by adding a pH booster to the whitening gel and improving their blue LED light’s overall efficacy.
Opalescence Boost offers the the strongest compound on the market. Their chemically activated power whitening gel, when properly mixed, weighs in at 40% hydrogen peroxide! The bleach is activated using the syringe to syringe method (combining gels A and B) and so it also does not require heat or lights to work. The first syringe contains 38 percent hydrogen peroxide, the active tooth whitening ingredient. The second syringe contains fluoride and potassium nitrate (PF), which helps strengthen tooth enamel, reduce sensitivity and protect against cavities. When mixed together the gel becomes a distinct red colour and this informs the practitioner that it’s ready and helps ensure correct placement and full removal of the product after the treatment. This system has good reviews regarding its effectiveness, but it’s also considered among the most uncomfortable choices in the marketplace.
Kool Lite Whitening is an in-office whitening procedure that promises patients a dazzling white smile in as little as 15 minutes. During this whitening procedure patients are fitted with a compact gel-lined tray positioned carefully in their mouths. To protect their gums from potential irritation, vitamin E oil is applied before the procedure begins. One the gel filled tray is in place, an LED light is applied to illuminate the rig and thereby activate the whitening gel ingredient inside.
Readers should note that all six of these strong teeth whitening solutions should only be used under a dentist’s care. If done incorrectly many of these treatments could seriously injure soft tissue in peoples’ mouths. Which is the best solution for the price? That could depend on the individual patient’s needs and the staff at the dental clinics as much as the remedy itself.