Dental whitening (homemade and clinical): does it work? How does it work?

Yellowed teeth can have several causes. Habits such as smoking, genetic issues and diet can affect tooth color.

Therefore, more and more people are looking for dental clinics with the objective of making their teeth whiter, eliminating the yellow aspect.

This procedure is called tooth whitening, which can be done both in the office and at home.

Learn more about the procedure and its techniques:


What is Dental Whitening?

Tooth whitening is an aesthetic procedure that aims to lighten the staining of yellowed or stained teeth.

The technique consists of using substances such as hydrogen peroxide (popularly known as hydrogen peroxide) and carbamide peroxide on the teeth.

These substances come into contact with oxygen, which causes the breakdown of the molecules responsible for the yellowish pigmentation of the region, resulting in lighter teeth.

The person responsible for carrying out the procedure is the dental surgeon (s).

Types and how they are made

There are different types of tooth whitening.

Currently, there is the possibility of performing clinical whitening, which is done in the office, and whitening with a tray (also called homemade), done at home.

In addition to them, there are options for products sold in pharmacies, which have, in general, lower cost.

Popular homemade recipes also make the list, promising whiter teeth.

Learn more about the procedures:


Clinical whitening is that performed in the dental office.

The number of sessions required can vary between 2 to 3 sessions, according to the patient’s clinical condition. However, there are cases in which the expected result is already achieved in the second consultation.

During the procedure, a gel based on hydrogen peroxide – a chemical compound – is used for whitening.

There is also the possibility of using LED light to speed up the action of the substance, however, there is no scientific proof of its effectiveness.

The process generally occurs as follows:

  1. Teeth hygiene;
  2. Protection of the gingival area;
  3. Application of the whitening gel.

The cleaning step takes place through simple cleaning. It is performed with the objective of removing possible impurities that could influence the treatment, such as bacterial plaque and tartar.

After that, the gum tissue is protected. It must be done because of the substance present in the whitening gel, which, because it is very strong, can cause burns when in contact with soft tissues.

This protection occurs with the application of a substance around the teeth. Then, it is exposed to light and turns into a kind of resin, blocking contact with the gel.

Finally, the bleaching gel is applied. The time of action must be indicated by the professional, and can vary between 20 and 50 minutes.

With tray

Tray whitening is the so-called “homemade whitening” with the guidance of a dentist.

It consists of using a mold containing a whitening substance, for a few hours, every day, for the period of time stipulated by the dentist.

It is, in general, a procedure with a lower cost than clinical treatment, however, it may take a longer period of time to show results, since it has a lower concentration of the whitening substance.

The steps for starting treatment are usually:

  1. First evaluation visit and mold measurements;
  2. Second consultation with receipt of the completed mold and guidelines;
  3. Use at home in accordance with the guidelines received.

During the first consultation, the teeth are evaluated and the patient is fit for the procedure. If the result is positive, the professional performs the impression of the dental arch, which will be used for the manufacture of the impression tray.

During the second meeting with the dentist, the delivery of the tray is made, along with the products that will be used for whitening. The professional also provides the necessary guidelines for conducting the treatment.

After that, the individual starts the treatment at home, applying a small amount of the gel to the tray and using it during the time established by the dentist.

In general, consultations are held every 15 days to evaluate the results.

From pharmacy

Currently, several products can be found in pharmacies that promise teeth whitening, from gels to adhesive tapes.

It is worth remembering that these options, despite having whitening substances in their composition, in general, will not cause the same results as the procedures with tray or clinical, since the amount of the product in its formulation is very small.

Despite this, they can be used by those who are not looking for a significant change in tooth color.

It is important to emphasize that these products must be used under the guidance of a qualified professional, as they can cause problems to the teeth.

Homemade with baking soda

Before using any homemade tip to whiten your teeth, you need to take some precautions, as they do not always work or, even more serious, can cause damage to oral health .

This is because, in general, most of the ingredients have no whitening potential, giving only a false whitening sensation. An example is the homemade recipe with baking soda.

This product, contrary to what many people think, does not generate results.

The reality is that bicarbonate only provides cleaning on the surface of the teeth, which, by removing residues, causes a false whitening sensation.

In addition, the recurring use of this recipe can damage the tooth enamel, since the bicarbonate provides an exfoliation in the region, which can cause the enamel to wear out.

Whitening toothpastes

There is currently a series of toothpastes on the market that promise a whitening of the region that can, in general, be used by all people.

However, just like in homemade recipes, these creams do not alter the natural pigmentation of the teeth. In reality, the products contain abrasive substances, which, when brushing, cause a scraping and polishing of the teeth.

Thus, they act only on the stains that are on the front of the enamel – the external part of the tooth -, often caused by poor hygiene and bacterial plaques.

Does hydrogen peroxide, salt or turmeric whiten your teeth?

No . There is no scientific evidence that substances such as hydrogen peroxide, salt and turmeric – also known as turmeric – cause teeth whitening.

Like bicarbonate, these products only alter the outside of the tooth, removing impurities and not their coloring, in fact.

In addition to not being effective in the long term, the use of these substances can cause damage to the gums and teeth, so their use should only be done under medical guidance.

As for hydrogen peroxide, although the main substance is hydrogen peroxide, the same used in whitening gel in offices, its home use is not recommended, since the concentration found in the product sold in pharmacies is much lower than that used by ( The dentist.

Thus, it would be necessary to apply the product for a long period of time on the teeth, which is not possible with just a mouthwash, as it is popularly used.

In addition, only the professional will know how to properly handle the liquid and make the necessary gingival protection so that there is no damage to the mucosa and tooth enamel.

What are the side effects of tooth whitening

In general, the tooth whitening procedure should not be uncomfortable for the patient. Despite this, as with other treatments, some discomfort may occur.

Between them:


Sensitivity is the most common side effect of tooth whitening. During the procedure and even afterwards, the teeth may have thermal sensitivity, that is, be sensitive to hot and / or cold food and drinks.

It is important to always inform this symptom to the professional responsible for the treatment, so that the necessary measures are taken, such as reducing the exposure time to the whitening gel, for example.

The interruption of treatment can also be indicated, depending on the patient’s clinical condition.

Gingival Irritation

Gingival irritation is a symptom that can occur during treatment. In the impression technique, this can occur due to faults or improper placement of the impression tray, for example. In the clinical procedure, the whitening gel may have leaked into the gingival tissue, causing irritation.


In general, there should be no pain during the procedure. Despite this, it is possible that it will occur.

In such cases, it is necessary to contact the professional, so that there is an assessment and the necessary measures are taken.

How long does the effect of tooth whitening last?

The duration of the effect of a tooth whitening can vary depending on the way the patient takes care of the teeth after the procedure, their eating habits and hygiene. In general, the results last from 1 to 3 years, and the process can be redone after this period, if necessary.

What should be avoided during tooth whitening?

During a tooth whitening procedure, some care must be taken for the success of the process. Among them, avoid some highly pigmented foods, either by artificial or natural dyes, as they can stain your teeth.

Among the foods that should be avoided are:

  • Dark teas – black, matte, red fruits;
  • Pure coffee;
  • Red wine;
  • Whole grape juice;
  • Soft drinks;
  • Alcoholic beverages;
  • Ketchup;
  • Tomato;
  • Dark sauces;
  • Açaí ;
  • Beetroot.

In addition to the listed foods, stopping tobacco use is also recommended.

How much does tooth whitening cost with a dentist

The values ​​of a tooth whitening can vary according to the chosen technique and number of sessions.

In addition, the cost varies according to the geographic region and the chosen professional.

In general, whitening costs:

  • Clinical – between R $ 700 to R $ 2000 *;
  • Homemade with tray – between R $ 300 to R $ 1000 *.

* Average prices consulted in January 2020. Prices may change.

Dental whitening is a procedure that is not part of the list of dental procedures of the National Supplementary Health Agency (ANS).

Thus, there is no obligation, on the part of dental plans, to cover this procedure.

In addition, for those who want alternatives found in pharmacies, we bring some options:

  • Dental Megasmile Instant Whitening Mousse ;
  • Sensodyne True White Toothpaste ;
  • Oral-B 3D White Toothpaste ;
  • Colgate Total 12 Whitening Toothpaste .

It is worth remembering that it is always important to consult a professional before using whitening products, so that he / she can analyze which is the best option for each patient.

Do you have contraindications?

-Yeah . As with other cosmetic procedures, there are some contraindications.

Whitening is not recommended for pregnant women and nursing mothers, as contact with whitening substances can be transmitted to the fetus or breast milk.

Can pregnant women do laser hair removal? See if it’s safe

Treatment is also not indicated for people under 15 years of age. In addition, before starting treatment, it is necessary to undergo an evaluation with dental professionals.