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A variety of over-the-counter tooth whiteners are available. These include trays, gels, strips, toothpastes, flosses, and mouthwashes. Before using these or any other whitening treatment, talk to your doctor about the risk and benefits of tooth whiteners.
There are two main types of over-the-counter (OTC) tooth whiteners currently available: whitening toothpastes and bleaching (whitening) kits. Toothpastes contain whitening ingredients that are called abrasives. They don't change the color of the teeth but instead help remove stains that are on the outer layer of teeth. Over time, this can lead to brighter teeth.
The other types of OTC whitener are bleaching kits. These consist of whitening strips or whitening gels that are placed into a mouthpiece. You wear the strips or mouthpiece for a certain amount of time each day, for a few days to a couple of weeks. These products contain a bleaching agent called carbamide peroxide, available in different strengths. Unlike the ingredients in your whitening toothpaste, the peroxide changes the color of teeth by bleaching the tooth enamel. Be aware that some OTC bleaching/whitening kits may cause side effects. If you notice unusual symptoms, stop using your bleaching product and talk to your dentist.
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.