With the higher demand for whiter teeth, the supply of whitening products for the application at home has increased exponentially in recent years.1 At the same time, dentists offer professional teeth treatments in their office.
Below you will find information about these two methods. There will also be a section where we will compare the different applications with one another. In that comparison we will consider aspects as the complexity of the application, the harming factors and the costs of bleaching. This is followed by a recommendation from the editors and the final conclusion. The statements we made during this process can be checked in the linked literature.
What kind of systems are there for changing the tooth colour?
There are two permissible methods in Germany and Austria for whitening natural teeth:
- Whitening at the dental office with highly concentrated peroxides (15 to 35 percent)
- Lightening at home with low-concentration peroxides (max. 0.1 % hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide)
Peroxides are among the oxidizing agents and whiten teeth during the exposure time. Coloured deposits from certain foods (coffee, tea, red wine) can be removed. Discoloration caused by enamel malformations, the excessive intake of fluoride or dental accidents cannot be removed by whitening applications. In addition, dentures, implants and fillings cannot be lightened.
How does teeth whitening (bleaching) at the dentist work?
The dental whitening treatment at the dentist starts with the professional tooth cleaning. Afterwards the gel is applied. This gel contains high-dose hydrogen peroxide (15 to 35 percent) and is removed again after an exposure time of 20 to 60 minutes.
The result of the treatment is visible immediately and can be checked using a colour card. However the whitening result depends on the type of discoloration, on the initial tooth colour and on the age of the patient.2
Some dentists are using the term ‘power bleaching’ for the offered treatment. According to Duschner, it works as follows. The mode of action of peroxide-based whiteners is based on the oxidation of discoloured organic components that have formed on the teeth over time.3
How does home whitening (lightening) work?
The procedure of teeth lightening at home is similar to the bleaching process at the dentist. A gel containing peroxide is applied to the tooth enamel. It breaks down into water and oxygen and, through oxidation, whitens the tooth. An LED lamp can speed up the process.
According to the law, the hydrogen peroxide concentration in products for household use must not exceed a value of 0.1 percent and is therefore much lower than at the dentist. Due to the longer exposure time, however, similar results can be achieved.
The key factors of effectiveness are concentration and time.4 Whitening at home is considered to be less risky and can be done more frequently than whitening at the dentist.
What’s the common price for teeth whitening treatments at home and at the dentist?
Depending on whether you want to whiten your teeth at the dentist or at home, you can expect significant price differences. Whitening at the dentist’s office is (usually) more expensive than buying a kit for home use.
The dentist can set the price of his whitening treatment himself. Depending on the method and the time required, he estimates between 250 and 750 euros. If you want to whiten individual teeth you have to expect the bill to be 70 to 150 euros per tooth. The costs for the professional tooth cleaning are usually added.
To find the best offer, it pays to inquire about the prices at several dentists and compare. The health insurance companies consider bleaching to be a cosmetic service and therefore do not cover any costs.
With at-home applications, you get away cheaper. For a one-time purchase of a kit (usually consisting of a splint, an LED light and the active ingredient-containing gel) you pay between 90 and 160 euros.
From then on, you can use the splint and light over and over again. When you’re out of gel, you can reorder a new tube. The prices for whitening sessions depend on the frequency of use and on the amount of gel used.
The following table summarizes the current price ranges for a single application of all teeth in Germany:
|Bleaching at the dentist||Bleaching at home|
|60 to 120 euros preparatory tooth cleaning (PTC)||90 to 210 euros for a one-time purchase|
|250 to 750 euros per treatment||40 to 80 euros for a tube of gel (sufficient for about 10 treatments)|
Does bleaching damage the teeth?
A study summary from 2018 examined, among other things, the harmfulness of tooth whitening kits.5 Tooth sensitivity and oral irritation were the most common side effects that often occurred with higher drug concentrations. These side effects were mild and only temporary. The teeth whitening process did not affect the quality of life among the subjects.
Another source summarizes that hydrogen peroxide has a long history of use in teeth whitening and that it seems to be safe. In fact, it goes so far as to claim that in addition to changing the appearance of discoloured teeth, it can also delay the need for more invasive veneers and crowns.6
A third study examines the influence of carbamide peroxide on the melting properties and the susceptibility to further discoloration.7 Based on observations, bleaching teeth with carbamide peroxide does not increase the susceptibility of the tooth enamel to stains and does neither change its topography (surface structure).
In today's research there is a consensus that peroxides per se do not by no means cause damage to the enamel or dentine. Demineralization, etching, erosion or the like can be ruled out if whitening systems are used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.8
However, the effectiveness and also the harmfulness of bleaching systems can be changed by additives and carrier materials (gels or pH buffer substances). The manufacturer and user should therefore have an understanding of the reaction mechanisms in order to be able to reliably exclude possible interactions and side effects.9
Although research has as good as ruled out major damage with both home whitening and dentist whitening, users still report side effects. After bleaching at the dentist with significantly higher concentrations of active ingredients than used in home kits, the teeth would be temporarily sensitive and the gums would be irritated.
The dosage for home bleaching is usually so low that there is no risk of damage if used properly. If you tend to have particularly sensitive teeth or if you have injuries in the oral cavity, we recommend a prior examination at the dentist.
How long do teeth whitening results last?
There is no general answer to that. Like a fingerprint, the initial tooth coloration in humans is individual. Depending on predisposition, lifestyle and age, the teeth are naturally white, yellowish, greyish or dark.10
It has been observed that whitening at the dentist creates a bigger effect in the whitening process than home lightening. The duration of the result depends to a large extent on the consumption of foods that contain certain color pigments by the patient. If he smokes after the treatment or drinks beverages with coloring pigments such as coffee, tea or red wine, the teeth may discolor again within a few weeks. Good oral hygiene, flossing, and cleaning your teeth regularly can keep your teeth white for longer.11
However, the period of time until you let the dentist do the whitening again should not be too short. Due to the increased concentration of active ingredients dentists recommend a break of at least 2 years.12
Tooth lightening at home differs from the whitening at the dentist. Concentration and exposure time are lower here and the application is less risky in general. In most cases, the whitening result is less intense than at the dentist’s, but the product can be used as often as desired.
The best teeth whitening kit for home-application
In order to be able to recommend a good kit to you, we researched extensively and compared different offers with one another. In the end, we were won over by the products from OnlySmile, which we briefly introduce below.
OnlySmile is one of the providers in the medium-priced segment for home whitening products. OnlySmile focuses on sustainability and wants to keep transport routes as short as possible. In order to do that, they develop and even manufacture some of their products in Germany where their headquarters are located. A starter kit consists of the splint, the LED light and the gel and thus it contains everything you need to start the treatment straight away.
The peculiarities of the company lie not only in the production location in Germany and the ease of use, but also in the years of work that go into the high-quality products. OnlySmile is still in close contact with their customers to obtain authentic feedback and to further develop products.
For the whitening process to start, the gel must be applied to the splint, which is then placed into the mouth. The treatment is completed after 30 minutes. Users particularly appreciate the fact that they can do the household chores or relax and watch their favourite series during the exposure time.
The wish for whiter teeth can easily be met with modern techniques. With the knowledge of this article, risks can be minimized and renewed discoloration can be delayed. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, which are summarized in the table below.
|Lightening at home Pro||Lightening at home Contra||Bleaching Pro||Bleaching Contra|
|painless and safe||Several applications may be necessary||more intense result after one application||unsuitable for teeth that are sensitive to pain|
|repeatable at any time||repeatable every 2 to 3 years|
|unlimited number of uses||limited number of uses|
|easy to use at home||must be carried out by qualified specialists|
|time saving||more time consuming|
With a lightening kit for home applications, the treatment frequency can be controlled independently. In contrast to bleaching, there is also no maximum number of applications here. The method is also more cost-effective and time-saving and, overall, less risky. However, results may only be visible after several applications. With bleaching, you will usually see a clear whitening of the teeth after the first application.
Even if the advertising promises you otherwise – whitening and lightening have their limits. Heavily discolored teeth have a hard time turning pearly white and the results of treatment rarely last a lifetime.
For the well-groomed person with a conscious lifestyle, teeth whitening
is still a good way to improve the appearance. The application can
strengthen self-confidence and improve the quality of life.
In our opinion, you can safely use products for home use to whiten your teeth.
You can find the recommended starter kit from OnlySmile under the following link: https://onlysmile.de/en/collections/all/products/onlysmile-zahnaufhellungsset
Do you have any questions about tooth whitening? Leave a comment below and let us know what you’re thinking. We read all the comments and are always open to your constructive feedback!
1 vgl. Eachempati P, Kumbargere Nagraj S, Kiran Kumar Krishanappa S, Gupta P, Yaylali IE. Home-based chemically-induced whitening (bleaching) of teeth in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Dec 18;12(12):CD006202. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006202.pub2. PMID: 30562408; PMCID: PMC6517292.
2 vgl. Joiner A. The bleaching of teeth: a review of the literature. J Dent. 2006 Aug;34(7):412-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jdent.2006.02.002. Epub 2006 Mar 29. PMID: 16569473.
3 Heinz Duschner: Einige Aspekte zur Sicherheit der Anwendung. Zahnaufhellung mit Peroxiden. https://www.mds-dental.de/german/download/09-14.PDF.
4 vgl. Joiner A. The bleaching of teeth: a review of the literature. J Dent. 2006 Aug;34(7):412-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jdent.2006.02.002. Epub 2006 Mar 29. PMID: 16569473.
5 vgl. Eachempati P, Kumbargere Nagraj S, Kiran Kumar Krishanappa S, Gupta P, Yaylali IE. Home-based chemically-induced whitening (bleaching) of teeth in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Dec 18;12(12):CD006202. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006202.pub2. PMID: 30562408; PMCID: PMC6517292.
6 vgl. Bartlett D. Bleaching discoloured teeth. Dent Update. 2001 Jan-Feb;28(1):14-8. doi: 10.12968/denu.2001.28.1.14. PMID: 11819944.
7 vgl. Farawati FAL, Hsu SM, O’Neill E, Neal D, Clark A, Esquivel-Upshaw J. Effect of carbamide peroxide bleaching on enamel characteristics and susceptibility to further discoloration. J Prosthet Dent. 2019 Feb;121(2):340-346. doi: 10.1016/j.prosdent.2018.03.006. Epub 2018 Aug 20. PMID: 30139674; PMCID: PMC6363879.
8 Heinz Duschner: Einige Aspekte zur Sicherheit der Anwendung. Zahnaufhellung mit Peroxiden. https://www.mds-dental.de/german/download/09-14.PDF.
9 vgl. Heinz Duschner: Einige Aspekte zur Sicherheit der Anwendung. Zahnaufhellung mit Peroxiden. https://www.mds-dental.de/german/download/09-14.PDF.
10 vgl. Kurylo W.O., Protoven O.P.: Zahnaufhellung als Verfahren für attraktives und strahlendes Lächeln. In: Ministerium für Bildung und Wissenschaft der Ukraine: Matieralien der 74. Allukrainischen Studentenkonferenz Medical Students Conference in Poltava. S. 85. Poltava, Ukraine 2018.
11 vgl. ebd.
12 vgl. https://www.dgaez.de/