You’re getting ready for a big date when you look in the mirror and realize the horror: Your entire mouth showcases your affinity for coffee, sugar, and dental neglect. You go to reach for your teeth whitening pen and begin to wonder…Do teeth whitening pens really work?

Whitening Pens

In the last few years, whitening pens have been coined a “quick fix” for stained teeth. But how does this process work?

According to the American Dental Association, carbamide peroxide breaks down into hydrogen peroxide and urea. Hydrogen peroxide is an active bleaching agent found in most bleaching products. Once the peroxide breaks down, oxygen flows into the enamel which gives it a “lightened” or whiter color. 

However, the reality of whitening pens needs to be addressed. Do whitening pens really work? Honestly, it depends on the use and user expectations. 

Do not pick up a whitening pen expecting to achieve a 5-star Hollywood smile when you’re a devout coffee drinker and/or dedicated smoker. Think of a whitening pen as a tool to manage your white teeth after they’ve been professionally whitened/cleaned or a quick touch-up before a special event. 

So why can’t you get the perfect smile for a whitening pen? Because once a food/beverage stain finds your tooth, it begins to absorb into it immediately. Typically, by the time you brush your teeth at the end of the day, a few stains have already latched onto your tooth. This cycle repeats every day. If you use a whitening pen after you eat, it will lift the newfound stains in your mouth. However, it won’t remove the stains already settled on your tooth.

Dangers of DIY Whitening

Sometimes, you just want to do things yourself to get it over with. However, that’s not always the safest option.

Depending on the exact brand/whitening product, you may be exposed to harsh additives that can erode your enamel over time. Often times patients also experience gum irritation and mild tooth sensitivity when using unsafe whitening products. Lastly, DIY whitening may leave your teeth with an uneven color. 

Before trying out any product, especially one that can potentially harm you, make sure to read the customer reviews. Additionally, share the product with your dentist and ask them if it’s safe to use on your teeth. I mean, who better to ask?

At the end of the day, whitening pens are good for a quick fix, but the safest and most effective method to whitening your teeth is to have them professionally whitened.

Please keep in mind patients with sensitive teeth, receding gums, and those sensitive to hydrogen peroxide are NOT ideal candidates for whitening pens and should avoid using them.