Whiter Teeth! (Part 3)

“So, which method of bleaching teeth is ‘the best’?”

In our last post, “Whiter Teeth! (Part 2)”, we explored how one of two bleaching solutions (carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide) could be applied to teeth in one of three ways (in-office power bleaching, at-home dentist-supervised tray bleaching, and over-the-counter do-it-yourself bleaching) to make your teeth whiter.  If you are considering whitening your teeth, you are probably wondering which way is “best”.

For some people, the best method would be the one that works the fastest.  For others, it might be the least expensive process.  Most patients agree that the best system would be the one that got their teeth the whitest.

The Scientific Method

In searching for the answer, we should use an “evidence-based” approach. Rather than just relying on uninformed opinions or the sway of commercial advertisements, we want to look for sound scientific research that was designed and performed to give an accurate, repeatable, and impartial conclusion.

A valuable scientific study would always include a list of the materials and methods that were used, an honest and accurate report of results that were observed, a discussion that proposes an explanation for the results that were recorded, and finally a conclusion about what the study “proves”.

Theoretically, if any other investigators use the same materials and followed the same methods to duplicate the experiment, they would achieve the same results.  Of course, if the original set up of the materials or methods is “flawed”, then the results would be inaccurate and the conclusions would be invalid.

As an example, if you test the use of a product on just one subject and get a desired result, you can’t be sure that the result isn’t just a fluke.  If, on the other hand, you test that product on 1000 subjects and achieve the same result every time, you would be very confident that that the results are legitimate.

As you might imagine, not all scientific studies are designed well. To find the most reliable resources, we reference “peer-reviewed” journals.  Before an article appears in one of these publications, an editorial board of recognized industry experts carefully scrutinizes the scientific method to look for any faults.  Whether intentional or even inadvertent, these errors introduce bias that can skew the results and therefore discredit the conclusions.   

The Best Bleaching Method

With that in mind, articles in both the Journal of Esthetic Restorative Dentistry and Compendium  (two highly respected peer-reviewed dental journals) have stated:

“The use of 10% carbamide peroxide in a custom-fitted tray is the safest, most efficacious, and cost efficient method, for the least investment. It provides the best ultimate result, with possibly the longest duration, and is easiest for most patients.” [1] [2]

In other words at-home dentist-supervised tray bleaching is best.

Wait a minute!… 

Is that just a “self-serving” claim?  How do we really know it’s true?  Is there proof?

Let’s take a common sense look at some scientific facts of which you may not be aware in our next post “Whiter Teeth! (Part 4)”.  Stay tuned.

Copyright © 2013  Stephen R. Snow, DDS

 [1] Leonard RH Jr, Bentley C, Eagle JC, et al. Nightguard vital bleaching: a long-term study on efficacy, shade retention, side effects, and patients’ perceptions. J Esthet Restor Dent. 2001;13:357-369.

 [2] Haywood VM. Frequently asked questions about bleaching. Compend. 2003;24:324-337