Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2017 06 Hyg Mailbag Whitening Diqthumb

Recommendations for take-home whitening products and whitening toothpaste

June 9, 2017
Colleen Olson, RDH, BBA, shares her recommendations for patients who are interested in take-home whitening products or whitening toothpaste.
Colleen Olson, RDH, BBA, Editorial Director

The Hygiene Message in a Bottle Mailbag is a monthly feature of the e-newsletter, Pearls for Your Practice: The Product Navigator. Each month, Colleen Olson, RDH, BBA, the editorial director of the Hygiene Product Navigator, will answer reader-submitted questions to help you navigate your dental hygiene product decisions (and more!). This month, she shares what she recommends for patients who are interested in take-home whitening products or whitening toothpaste.


What do you recommend for patients who want take-home whitening? Whitening toothpaste?


Thanks for the question! We’ve all been there: you're presenting a perio and restorative treatment plan to get a patient back to optimal oral health, but what they really want is whiter teeth. My doctor is great at encouraging patients to take care of their gums and any decay that needs immediate attention as a first priority. Once those things have been taken care of, he is happy to indulge them in whitening as we proceed to less emergent restorative care.

The go-to whitening recommendation at our office is Opalescence 35% tooth whitening gel with custom whitening trays (Ultradent Products Inc.). I love that this product contains potassium nitrate and fluoride to help desensitize teeth during whitening. It’s easy to use and puts the patient in control of the bleaching. It’s also a great way for patients to maintain the smile they want because they can touch up and rewhiten as necessary. After the initial 7- to 10-day treatment, we suggest wearing trays a couple of times after every six-month prophylaxis appointment to stay on top of stain accumulation.

Whitening toothpastes are another option for patients who might not be ready to make an investment in whitening trays. These types of toothpastes whiten teeth by removing surface stains and some include bleaching agents to aid in tooth whitening. The oral health aisle at the grocery store is bursting at the seams with different varieties of whitening pastes. One great choice is the Sensodyne True White toothpaste (GSK), which is a minimally abrasive whitening toothpaste that also provides sensitivity relief with potassium nitrate and sodium fluoride. Since more than 50% of the population has at least one area of gingival recession greater than 1 mm, this has become one of my favorite options for patients who are looking for whitening toothpaste but might also have some gingival recession or sensitivity issues. (1)

As with any toothpaste, proper brushing technique is crucial. So no matter what you end up recommending to each of your patients, take the time to review how to brush gently and thoroughly to provide them with the tools to maintain optimal oral health and the bright smile they desire.


1. Kassab MM, Cohen RE. The etiology and prevalence of gingival recession. J Am Dent Assoc. 2003;134(2):220-225.

Editor's note: Do you have a question for Colleen? Is there a product you'd like to see her review? Or would you like to submit your own hygiene product article? Send an e-mail to [email protected]. You might just see it in the Hygiene Product Navigator! If you're not a Product Navigator subscriber, click here to sign up.

More reading

May 2017 | Products for sensitivity relief when preprocedural paste and fluoride varnish aren't enough
April 2017 | Teething products for infants and toddlers
March 2017 | Happy visits for patients under age 3

Colleen Olson, RDH,BBA, is an editorial director for the e-newsletter, Pearls for Your Practice: The Product Navigator. She earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Texas A&M University in 2008 and worked in sales for five years. She graduated from the Blinn College Dental Hygiene program in 2013. She is a full-time mom to Bonnie Grace and is currently a part-time hygienist in private practice in San Antonio, Texas. She enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband, Zach, and their families.
For the most current dental product articles, click here.
For the most current dental headlines, click here.