As a dental hygienist, I often get asked about at-home teeth whitening options. In the dental office, we use Zoom to whiten teeth professionally, and some patients ask if Zoom can be done at home.
Professional Zoom whitening cannot be done at home as it requires a dental professional to apply a light-cured barrier to protect the soft tissue, whitening gel and a specific light to accelerate the bleaching process. Zoom offers take-home teeth whitening gel to use in custom whitening trays.
Zoom whitening is a powerful and effective way to brighten and whiten teeth, and our patients in the dental office have seen significant results. In this post, I explain in more detail the process of professional in-office Zoom whitening, why it cannot be done at home, what products Zoom carries that can be done at home, and how long the procedure takes.
Why Zoom teeth whitening cannot be done at home
Professional Zoom whitening uses an extremely high concentration of hydrogen peroxide to destroy the stain molecules inside the tooth structure (not surface stain). Because the concentration is so high, only licensed dental professionals can perform the procedure on consenting patients.
If this product is not used by a trained professional, serious side effects and issues could occur; for example, if the hydrogen peroxide gel comes into contact with the soft tissue and bleaches it, it can be very painful and could cause a burning sensation.
Before Zoom teeth whitening, it is essential to have a dental professional check the health of your teeth and gums and also clean your teeth.
There is a lot more that goes on during a dental hygiene appointment than the average patient knows about, and to learn more about what really goes on during your one-hour dental hygiene appointment, you can read the post I wrote about it that is linked below.
It is important to note that any fake tooth structure such as fillings, crowns or veneers will not be effected by the whitening gel and will not whiten.
The procedure itself does take some time to prep and execute. The light-cured protective barrier must be placed on the teeth, and the other preparations must be completed.
Once the patient is fully prepped, the whitening gel is applied to the teeth and removed and re-applied 3-4 times during the entire whitening process. Removing the whitening gel from the teeth requires high-volume suction and water to rinse away and make sure the gel is not ingested and is entirely removed.
A dental professional is trained to monitor the treatment and make adjustments as needed to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the treatment.
We even give the patient a pen and paper so they can communicate with us anytime they need to. Sometimes the patient can experience what we call teeth whitening zingers, sharp shooting intense pain that is caused by teeth whitening.
These zingers can be extremely painful and can occur during the Zoom whitening procedure and continue for hours after the treatment is completed. To learn more about teeth whitening zingers, I wrote a post about preventing and stopping them, which is linked below.
Again, the concentration of hydrogen peroxide is so high that we must monitor the patient for the entire duration of the treatment. Due to all the risks mentioned, it is unsafe to perform at home.
However, Zoom does sell take-home whitening products that are safe to use by non-dental professionals and can be done at home. Below I explain further.
Zoom sells take-home teeth whitening gel for custom trays
Zoom whitening sells take-home whitening and touch-up kits that complement the in-office professional teeth whitening and can be used with custom-made trays. I recommend buying these products directly from a dentist as the products I found not being sold directly by Zoom are not legitimate.
I always tell my patients to be careful where they buy their dental products from and to make sure they buy from the company themselves or their verified company store on Amazon or other selling platforms.
You are putting this product in your mouth, and I don’t want anyone to take the chance to order a non-legitimate product that has not been tested for safety and efficacy.
Custom trays are the best at-home teeth whitening method you can do.
The custom whitening trays need to be fabricated by a dental professional. Models need to be made of your teeth out of impressions, or a dental scanner, and the whitening trays are made by melting/softening plastic over your teeth models and trimmed to fit your mouth perfectly.
Custom teeth whitening trays are much more effective than strips because they are specifically made for your teeth, and the surfaces will be more evenly coated with the whitening solution.
Is in-office teeth whitening better than at-home whitening?
At-home kits may not be as effective as having in-office professional whitening done; however, with prolonged use, the results can be similar depending on the tooth shade.
Over-the-counter whitening kits for at-home use are not as powerful as the professional-grade products used in a dental office. The results from take-home whitening treatments may not be as dramatic or long-lasting as with professional treatment.
Many online teeth whitening gimmicks and certain products claim to whiten teeth when they have no scientific evidence of efficacy. Products such as coconut oil, whitening toothpaste, and gum will not change the colour of your teeth.
How long does Zoom whitening take in the dental office?
The Zoom whitening treatment is done in a dental office and can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 90 minutes to complete, but it typically takes about an hour to complete. However, the actual length of the treatment may vary depending on the condition of your teeth and the desired level of whitening.
Before the whitening gel is applied to the teeth, consent is given by the patient, and all questions and concerns the patient may have are reviewed with the dental professional. The teeth are then prepped for the procedure, and the patient is given a pen and paper in case they need to communicate.
The gel is applied to the teeth in 15-minute intervals. The patient can have up to 4 applications (each of 15 minutes) depending on their pain threshold and desired result.
The zingers can come on at any point but most often start gathering intensity the longer the whitening gel is on the teeth. If this happens, the patient may ask to stop the treatment after three applications (or at any time they need to).
Also, if the patient has achieved the desired whitening shade after three applications, the 4th one is unnecessary.
In the dental office I work, we book 2 hours for Zoom whitening to give enough time to prep, discuss with the patient, complete the treatment, and discuss treatment after it is completed.
Remember that teeth whitening is just one aspect of maintaining a healthy smile. Brushing and flossing regularly and visiting your dental professional for cleanings and check-ups are essential to keep your teeth and gums healthy because a healthy mouth contributes to your overall health.
I hope you have found this information helpful!