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Teeth whitening options

White teeth

If you are interested in teeth whitening, our experience with most of the products on the market can help you navigate through the many choices. Results vary by person and it may be helpful to talk to your dentist about the best option based on the results you would like, your budget and time.

Stain removal vs. whitening

Toothpastes remove surface stains by using mild abrasives while whitening products contain carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide to actually lighten the tooth colour.

Over the counter products can lighten your teeth by one shade where dentists can provide prescription strength options that lighten your teeth by up to eight shades. Note: bleaching is not recommended for children under 16, or for pregnant or lactating women.

There are various gel and tray options to consider. Custom whitening trays maximize gel contact with crowded teeth while over-the-counter tray systems and strips work best for perfect orthodontic teeth.

Results vary based on your teeth and the stains your teeth are exposed to. Avoiding coffee, tea, red wine and smoke will increase the time between treatments. Bleaching does not work on fillings, veneers, crowns and other restorations so consider whitening your teeth beforehand.

Sensitivity and allergies

Sensitive teeth are a common side effect of teeth whitening, particularly for those with gum disease, worn enamel or cavities. Your dentist can help you minimize sensitivity and avoid any products you may be allergic to (e.g. peroxide). Consult your dentist before using a tooth-whitening product if you have defective restorations or receding gums.

Our recommendation

The best value for teeth whitening is to use custom trays with prescription strength gel at home. This gets the best results with minimal repeat visits and associated costs. We always discuss the various options with patients interested in whiter teeth and often suggest patients try over-the-counter strips as a first step to see how their teeth respond, before making a bigger investment.

The table below summarizes some of the key points:


Shade difference

(scale of 1-8)






Good for maintenance and/or minor shade improvements.

 Strips and Gels


4 months

 Best for perfect orthodontic teeth and small shade improvements.




Not enough contact time with your teeth to have significant results.

 Over-the-counter tray system


4-6 months

Best for perfect orthodontic teeth.

 Custom tray system


6-12 months

Dentist creates an impression of your teeth to create custom trays that maximize contact with the gel and improve results – also protects gum tissue.



3-6 months

 Expensive and needs frequent in-office repeats.

 Veneers, bonding and crowns



Best for brownish coloured teeth and dark stains; expensive but long lasting.


Contact us of you have questions about whitening your teeth.

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