Teeth whitening is a popular procedure and it can be extremely safe and effective. Unfortunately, most teeth whitening techniques are ineffective and unsafe with misleading claims. For instance, the science proves that the application of light does not enhance the results and it is a gimmick! In this article, I will explain the best method for safely bleaching your teeth with the custom-designed teeth whitening trays (also known as bleaching trays).
How to use and clean teeth whitening trays
This article covers:
- The best whitening gel for safe teeth whitening
- The best teeth whitening method
- The design features of the best custom teeth whitening trays
- How to properly use teeth whitening trays
- How long to wear teeth bleaching trays
- How to clean teeth whitening trays
WHAT IS THE BEST TEETH WHITENING GEL?
The best and safest whitening gel on the market is 10% carbamide peroxide.Carbamide peroxide is active for long periods of time (8-10 hours) with a slow conversion to hydrogen peroxide. Higher concentrations of gel do not translate to better results, but they do guarantee higher sensitivity for most patients. 10% carbamide peroxide has been extensively studied by Dr. Van Haywood and shown to have safe and effective. The lower concentration is made more effective by increasing the application time.
THE BEST TEETH WHITENING METHOD
The best and safest teeth whitening is achieved with properly designed and fitted custom teeth whitening trays. This method of whitening is also known as Nightguard vital bleaching among dental professionals, but most people know them as teeth whitening trays or teeth bleaching trays. The use of light does not enhance or activate the gel and it is a gimmick. Always avoid any bleaching methods that involve abrasive ingredients or acid as they will damage your enamel and they are completely unnecessary.
Treatment with 10% carbamide peroxide in custom teeth whitening trays is the best method of teeth whitening. Higher concentrations of gel, or the use of a light to activate the gel are not recommended.
BEST DESIGN FEATURES OF CUSTOM TEETH WHITENING TRAYS
Most whitening trays have poor designs that are ineffective and waste expensive gel material. The goal of the whitening tray is to form an extremely precise and tight gingival seal (gumline seal) to prevent leakage of whitening material out of the tray and to prevent saliva from entering between the tray. This will allow the gel to have the best results and minimize irritation to the gums. The ideal tray material is slightly thicker and rubbery to make this tight seal. Most trays are scalloped to follow the gumline but this is a poor design for seal and make the trays flimsy. Your dental models need to be customized prior to making the trays so that they slightly fit under the gumline to form this super tight seal. Lastly, no reservoir is recommended to hold the whitening gel because studies show that it only wastes gel without improving results.
BEST DESIGN FEATURES
- Tray Extends 3mm past the gumline with no scalloping
- Tray material is slightly thicker and rubbery
- Tray has a precise extension into the gum sulcus to keep the gel sealted against the teeth
- No gel reservoir to prevent wasted material
HOW TO USE TEETH WHITENING TRAYS
- Make sure your custom tray is clean. Never use hot water when cleaning your tray because it will warp the plastic.
- Apply a minimal bead sized amount of whitening gel to the front surface of each tooth you will be whitening. The bead is applied to each tooth near the gumline. Applying more gel, or adding gel to the front and back of teeth will only waste the gel while not improving results.
Important: Whiten all teeth up to the first molar so that there is no visible change in teeth shade when smiling. Skip any teeth which you have been instructed to avoid, such as crowns.
- Gently place the loaded custom tray onto your teeth and press firmly into place.
- Use a finger to gently press against the front surface of your teeth to adapt the tray.
- Run a finger along your gum line to remove any bleaching gel that may have squeezed out during the previous steps.
- Go to bed.
- When you wake up in the morning, remove the trays and brush your teeth as usual. Clean your trays as described below.
HOW LONG TO WEAR CUSTOM TEETH WHITENING TRAYS
You can safely whiten teeth with 10% carbamide peroxide for 10+ hours. The gel is active this entire time, but there are certain conditions that may not allow for this extended wear. This includes gum recession, cavities, defective fillings, periodontal or gum disease, or areas of dentin exposure. Your dentist must advise you of any limitations. These limitations can be addressed prior to whitening to allow for a more comfortable experience. When none of these conditions are present, most patients are able to wear their trays overnight. I recommend 2 nights on, one night off for the best results.
- Start by wearing your trays for a few hours at a time.
- Gradually transition to wearing your trays overnight
- If sensitivity is tolerable, continue wearing trays nightly. 2 Nights on / 1 Night off.
- When sensitivity becomes uncomfortable, take a few extra nights off, then continue.
- If you have any concerns about your treatment, see or contact your dentist.
HOW TO CLEAN TEETH WHITENING TRAYS
- After removing your trays, a cotton swab is the best for removing most of the gel residue.
- Do not use hot water as it may cause your tray to lose its shape.
- Before using the tray again, use one more cotton swab. The dried gel is easier to use.
- Between uses, I recommend anti-bacterial cleaning tablets to clean and disinfect the trays. My favorite product is called Retainer Brite: Buy Here
Typical Whitening (Bleaching) Results