Method Dental
401 9 Ave SW #222 Calgary AB T2P 3C5 (403) 262-3434

(587) 318-2763

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Calgary, AB
(403) 262-3434

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Teeth Whitening: What’s Safe & What’s Not

Teeth Whitening: What’s Safe & What’s Not

woman with bright white teeth smiling

Types of At-Home Teeth Whitening

The natural colour of teeth is usually an off-white or eggshell colour, so many people are interested in utilizing at-home whitening systems to brighten the look of their smile. Teeth naturally darken with age and can become stained from frequent consumption of certain food and drinks. Numerous Canadians are looking to combat darkened teeth with whitening procedures. 

Whitening can be done in the comfort of one’s own home in a few different ways. 

  • Bleaches: Bleaches are usually peroxide-based and can change the colour of the tooth itself. It is important to always consult your dentist before utilizing a bleaching process to ensure it is the correct method to whiten your teeth, as some teeth may not respond to whitening treatments.
  • Surface Whiteners: Surface whiteners are commonly found in toothpastes and utilize special abrasives to increase the product’s effectiveness. Surface whiteners are only able to lighten the appearance of surface stains, and should never replace regular brushing and flossing.

At-Home Whitening: Bleaches

Whitening Pens

Whitening pens are popular due to their small, portable size and general convenience. They are easy to use, usually consisting of a plastic tube filled with a whitening gel or liquid and a brush tip. The tube can be twisted to dispense the product onto the brush, which is then applied directly to the teeth after brushing, with no need to rinse after use. Sometimes, a light can be added to help activate the product further and intensify the results. 

Whitening Strips

Whitening strips are a low cost, convenient, and easy to use whitening application that can be found at most drug stores. Each packet comes with two strips, one for the top teeth and one for the bottom, lined with a whitening gel that helps remove stains. Strips can be worn during the day while completing various activities, as they are very discreet and easy to dispose of.

One downside of strips is that with prolonged use, your teeth may begin to feel more sensitive. If you already suffer from sensitive teeth, consult your dentist before using whitening strips.

At-Home Whitening: Surface Whiteners

Charcoal Toothpaste

Charcoal toothpaste is an abrasive whitener in the form of a black paste with a consistency similar to baking soda. Charcoal may not work as effectively as a peroxide-based whitener, but it may bind to some stains on the tooth’s surface and remove them. It has had positive results when used to remove stains from things like coffee and tobacco but may not provide you with a dramatic whitening effect.

Additionally, charcoal toothpastes can help remove surface stains due to their abrasive qualities. Using them too much or brushing too firmly can cause damage to the enamel. As well, most charcoal toothpastes do not contain fluoride, which helps to protect enamel. It is recommended to talk to your dentist before using charcoal toothpaste to see if you should utilize a fluoride rinse to help protect your teeth against decay.

Whitening Toothpaste

Whitening toothpastes usually contain one of three whitening ingredients; abrasives, hydrogen peroxide, or carbamide peroxide. It is used daily as a normal toothpaste, or as per the instructions indicated on each product’s label. 

Toothpastes with bleaching agents (like hydrogen or carbamide peroxide) can induce sensitivity after prolonged use. This can be diminished by alternating traditional toothpaste out with whitening toothpaste.

Advantages and Disadvantages of At-Home Whitening Systems

Utilizing an at-home whitening treatment can be affordable and easy to use. Most forms of at-home whitening systems can be purchased over the counter at most pharmacies and drug stores or sourced online. They are also convenient if you have a busy schedule, as you can use a type that best fits your needs, whether its daily use or on-the-go. 

At-home whitening treatments can cause tooth and gum sensitivity if used or applied incorrectly. Additionally, at-home systems may not whiten deep stains and discoloured teeth depending on the severity, or false teeth such as crowns and veneers.

In-Office Whitening

If your teeth have darkened over time due to ageing, or are deeply discoloured and stained, in-office teeth whitening may be a suitable option for you to ensure your total satisfaction in the final result. The results from bleaching in-office can last up to 3 years, but may be affected by prolonged consumption of food and drinks that may stain the teeth.

Your dentist will be able to recommend the best option for you, so always consult your dentist before pursuing any methods of teeth whitening.

Vital vs. Non-vital Bleaching

  • Vital bleaching is done on living teeth that have darkened due to ageing or the consumption of foods that stain.
  • Non-vital bleaching can be done on teeth that are no longer living due to a root canal by whitening it from the inside out.
woman getting her teeth whitened at the dentist

How It’s Done

Your dentist will insert a cheek retractor into your mouth which fully exposes all of your teeth visible when you smile. A bleaching gel is then applied to the teeth and left to sit between 15 and 30 minutes. The gel is then removed and reapplied for an additional 15 to 30 minutes, and this process may be repeated a few times until the desired result is reached. 

Some treatments also involve an intense light that helps to enhance the effects of the bleaching gel, which is mimicked in some at-home treatments. 

Take-Home Treatments

If you’d like the trusted guidance of your dentist, but the convenience of an at-home whitening kit, you’re in luck! Customized at-home whitening kits are available to fit your busy schedule while maintaining the effectiveness you’d expect of a professional product. While it may not be as potent as an in-office treatment, you should see noticeable results within 2 weeks.

You will be provided with a whitening gel and custom trays. Simply brush your teeth, apply some gel to the trays, insert them into your mouth, leave them in for the designated amount of time, and rinse! Your dentist will go through specific instructions with you to ensure you do not have any questions and feel fully comfortable with the system.

Advantages and Disadvantages of In-Office Whitening Procedures

Whitening your smile through your dentist allows you to access treatment backed by science and monitored by a professional who will ensure you receive the results you crave. Professional teeth whitening can help boost your self-confidence through achieving the bright white smile you want.

In-office whitening can achieve the results you want much faster than at-home systems and are generally regarded as the safest form of bleaching. Your dentist will be able to monitor your teeth and gums to prevent any complications during the process. Additionally, undergoing an in-office teeth-whitening treatment helps to kill bacteria that may cause gum disease or tooth decay. You’ll leave the office with a bright white smile that looks and feels clean.

In-office whitening can be expensive in comparison to at-home treatments. Additionally, any whitening system is not a permanent solution to stained teeth, and you may be required to follow-up for future procedures. As with any whitening process, there is always a risk of incurring tooth and gum sensitivity after treatment. 

If you are interested in brightening your smile, visit your dentist to see what your options are to help you feel and look your best. Your dentist can help decide which whitening method is best for you based on your needs. 

Visit Us in Downtown Calgary

Method Dental is located on the +15 level of Gulf Canada Square.


  • 401 9 Ave SW #222
  • Calgary, AB T2P 3C5

Contact Information


  • Monday7:30 AM - 6:00 PM
  • Tuesday7:30 AM - 4:00 PM
  • Wednesday7:30 AM - 4:00 PM
  • Thursday7:30 AM - 6:00 PM
  • Friday7:00 AM - 2:00 PM
  • SaturdayClosed
  • SundayClosed
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