If the whitening gel dentists use is peroxide, is it possible for me to just rinse each day with the peroxide that I get at the store to whiten my teeth? It seems like the same basic concept. Am I missing something?
While you are correct that it is the same basic concept. There are two big differences in the type of teeth whitening you would get by rinsing at home and doing professional teeth whitening with your dentist. The first is the strength of the whitening gel.
Teeth Whitening Gel Strength
The peroxide you get over the counter is 3%. Even Crest Whitestrips, which is much weaker than the teeth whitening you would get with your dentist and only achieves a mild whitening effect, is double the hydrogen peroxide strength at 6%. Your dentist’s gel will be around 30% or higher.
Getting to the Dentin
The second issue is the need for the gel to soak into your teeth to make a difference. In order to really whiten your teeth, the gel has to penetrate the teeth and get to the dentin. For that to happen, the gel would have to be in contact with your teeth for a minimum of 15 minutes. This is why your dentist provides custom fitted bleaching trays. It enables you to wear the gel comfortably. In most cases, patients will wear them for a couple of hours while doing errands or housework, to overnight while they sleep.
While it is possible for you to rinse with peroxide for 15 minutes, I can’t imagine that would be comfortable. So, while technically you could whiten your teeth by rinsing with over-the-counter peroxide, it would take a great deal of grit, determination, and time.
This blog is brought to you by Hoffman Estates Dentist Dr. William Becker.