Everything you need to know about teeth whitening products in Singapore: Effectiveness, safety, risks, and more

Everything you need to know about teeth whitening products in Singapore: Effectiveness, safety, risks, and more

Pearly whites

Text: Emily Heng

Image: Instagram | @hismileteeth

We'll be upfront: to think of Instagram as nothing but a social networking service seems short-sighted in this age, particularly when add-ons like IGTV, ad manager, and Instagram shop have transformed the app's capabilities and reach significantly. These days, we aren't just logging on to catch up with our peers — instead, we're tracking the latest trends, watching tutorials, and adding to our carts faster than you can say double-tap. It stands to reason, then, that what's latest and greatest in beauty tends to be discovered via the 'gram. Setting our spidey senses tinglin' as of late? The influx of at-home teeth whitening kits and products we've spotted on our feed.

With big names such as Kim K, Jenn Im, and Olivia Culpo sporting these nifty devices and paste, there's definitely a new trend underway. One that, worryingly, comes with an elevated risk as compared to a Skittle mani. You see, teeth-whitening products in the past have garnered flak thanks to its corrosive properties that worsen pre-existing teeth and gum problems. Think heightened sensitivity, exposed nerve tissue, and even gum disease. Yikes. Does this mean we should be avoiding teeth-bleaching offerings like the plaque plague? Well, maybe not just yet. We get the dirt on this squeaky-clean sitch, below.

Do at-home teeth whitening solutions work?

It really depends on the type of product and the frequency of use. Whitening toothpaste and strips tend to contain a lower concentration of bleaching agents, and hence are safe for day-to-day use or for the set period as indicated by the manufacturer. Your chompers can go up to one to two shades lighter with sustained use of these bad boys.

At-home teeth whitening kits, however, are a different story altogether. Depending on your brand of choice, most kits often comprise customised trays accompanied by a personalised bleaching concentration depending on your needs. You'll then be required to wear them for a duration ranging from 20 minutes to two hours depending on what is prescribed for you.

Are at-home teeth whitening solutions detrimental to your dental health?

Not if you use them as instructed. The Raffles Medical Group points out that certain side effects can occur even if you do, however, such as tooth sensitivity and irritated gums. This is normal, and will diminish with time. Still, it is recommended you exercise caution should you be purchase teeth-whitening kits from online sources. According to the Health Products (Cosmetic Products-ASEAN Cosmetic Directive) Regulations 2007, all dental products must contain less than or equal to 0.1% of hydrogen peroxide or other similar chemicals to be allowed for sale to the public.

Unfortunately, it a rule not entirely adhered to by manufacturers, with an investigation in 2017 uncovering a local label, Beautiful, for utilising up to 4% of hydrogen peroxide in their products. Thankfully, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) remedied this by removing all sales listings of the product.

Are at-home teeth whitening procedures suitable for everyone?

No. Ideally, at-home teeth whitening kits should only be used by those with healthy teeth and gums. The HSA advises that anyone suffering from gingivitis, periodontal disease and gingival lesions avoid such procedures as it could worsen any pre-existing conditions. It should also be noted that whitenening agents are ineffective against those who have tooth-coloured fillings, as they are made of materials that can't be bleached.

Is it better to get your teeth whitened at a dentist?

It is always best to consult your dentist as to which is the best course of action for you. They will then make a recommendation depending on if you have more extrinsic stains (surface-level discolouration) or intrinsic stains (deeper discolouration). In-office treatments are, naturally, more pricey and time-consuming, though they show more discernable results as dentists can wield products with a higher level of bleaching agents. Read: teeth can go up to three to four shades lighter if you opt for professional treatments.

Are there any methods to lighten teeth naturally?

Baking soda remains a popular option up to today as it serves as a mild abrasive that helps scrub away surface stains. If not, eating crunchy foods such as fruits and veggies also benefit by rubbing away plaque as you chew. Limiting dark liquids such as coffee, wine, and soda can also go a long way in preventing more staining.