With the introduction of at-home custom tray bleaching in the late eighties, the tooth whitening industry has grown with more products and procedures demonstrated by current research to be safe and effective options.1,3 In 2000, a strip-based whitening system was introduced, Crest® Whitestrips™ as a convenient alternative for at-home bleaching rather than using a custom tray. Whitening procedures also can be administered in-office or in combination with at-home methods. In addition, there are over-the-counter (OTC) products, Aura Glow and GLO Lit are not available in the UK and Europe. OTC products in the UK & Europe is limited to whitening toothpastes due to the EU Directive 2011/84 EU (Cosmetic Products Enforcement Regulations 2013) which permits the sale of OTC to contain up to 0.1% hydrogen peroxide. Individuals may purchase these without input from a dental professional and more recently, other non-dental options, such as kiosks in malls and spas have expanded the market for tooth whitening.3
As an oral health care professional, it is important to understand what it means to whiten teeth. This course will review the differences between whitening and bleaching and how to identify types of stains or causes of tooth discoloration, how to properly include whitening in individual treatment plans, and how to discuss the options, benefits and potential adverse effects.