A fast way to whiten teeth is through the use of whitening devices available in stores, according to New York University dentistry professor Jonathan B. Levine. Whitening devices use heat and light to speed the reaction of hydrogen peroxide gel. The devices can significantly whiten teeth in about two days.
Whitening strips are best used over a time frame of several weeks, Dr. Levine notes. The strips, which contain a hydrogen peroxide gel, are placed directly on teeth. The gel can cause irritation to fingers and gums. Over-the-counter whitening gels and trays also take several weeks to work. The systems are referred to as "boil and bite" and require the user to heat a gel-filled tray and place it inside the mouth. A significant portion of users report sensitivity to the gel. Paint-on gels target individual teeth and make it easier to avoid the sensitive tissue in the mouth. The gels take several months to provide significant results.
The most effective whitening method varies among individuals, according to Dr. Levine. If a whitening method causes pain or irritation, an individual should try another method. Generally, whitening is more efficient as the concentration of hydrogen peroxide gel increases. Success of a method depends on the amount of time the gel is in contact with teeth and how consistently the method is used.