Over-the-Counter Dental Products: How to Avoid Negative Results


The Price of Success

With the rise of cosmetic dentistry in recent years, the dental field has seen many innovative new technologies that have taken the industry by storm! From Porcelain Veneers to Invisalign Aligners, to enhanced methods of teeth-whitening. Such new technologies have revolutionized professional dentistry and opened the door to a whole new realm of future smile possibilities. However, while the success of easily accessible and user-friendly cosmetic dental products are wonderful, they come at a price.

What price you may ask? Well, it’s the fact that some of these over-the-counter dental products have become bit too accessible.

If you were to visit your nearest convenience store or local pharmacy, you would inevitably discover a copious assortment of over-the-counter dental products (OTC) readily available for purchase. Indeed, OTC aligners and whitening-based products can sometimes yield the desired results; however, at Overland Park Dentistry we have had numerous cases of patients who have used OTC products in the past and have experienced a variety of complications from doing so. Therefore, in this article we will elaborate on some of the potential drawbacks associated with over-the-counter dental products, and how they could potentially trigger a host of unexpected and unwelcome problems!

Over-the-Counter Dental Products: Dangers of OTC & DIY Aligners

Although OTC aligners might initially appear to be a quick and inexpensive alternative to scheduling an appointment with a dentist, it’s important to realize that everyone’s smile is unique, thus having different requirements. While OTC aligners can be successful in making minor to moderate adjustments to a person’s teeth, realigning someone’s teeth is not as simple as it seems and can have far reaching implications should the treatment be administered incorrectly.

Because of this, a comprehensive oral exam is conducted by a dentist or orthodontist prior to a patient receiving aligners to ensure that the patient’s gums and teeth are healthy enough to undergo realignment treatment, and that the aligners will be custom fitted to meet the patient’s specific needs. However, by opting not to undergo the preliminary exam or to personally receive the necessary professional supervision, you could be setting yourself up for complications such as gum damage, tooth loss/displacement, root resorption, or severe bite problems (malocclusion). These complications can be extremely difficult or sometimes even impossible to correct, thereby causing even more oral health issues for the afflicted patient than they previously experienced.

While it’s true that the frequency in which such incidents occur has somewhat declined thanks to recent introduction of online ordered aligners, by no means is this a foolproof method. Indeed, custom DIY aligners ordered via online sources are statistically a safer option than OTC aligners, without the hands-on guidance of a professional you are STILL rolling the dice with your smile and ultimately running the risk of incurring complications.

Over-the-Counter Dental Products: OTC Whitening Trays & Strips

Before we delve into the matter, lets first briefly refresh everyone’s memory as to what exactly a tooth whitening is and why its done. As a strictly cosmetic procedure, whitening your teeth is the practice of removing any stains or discoloration your teeth may have. When you age, your teeth sustain a significant amount of wear and tear, thereby accumulating nicks and blemishes on the surface of your teeth. To remedy this, whitening products can be used to reverse the signs of aging, thus enhancing your smile’s appearance tenfold!

Unfortunately, we’ve seen the dangers our patients have incurred by grabbing the latest TicTok craze in a box at the convenience store, instead of seeking professional teeth whitening. We’d like to focus on four of the most common OTC whitening dangers.

Over-the-Counter Dental Products: Teeth Whitening Dangers

OTC Teeth Whitening Danger 1: Abuse and Overuse

One of the most common problems that can occur when you whiten your teeth without a professional overseeing your treatment is the potential for abuse or overuse of the bleaching agent. An over-the-counter kit does not include professional strength products, so it can only be so effective. Many adults want a whiter white and will leave the product on for a longer time than recommended, which leaves teeth at a higher risk of tooth sensitivity, worn tooth enamel, tooth decay, and other issues.

If you choose to use an OTC white strip product or any other bleaching kit, make sure to only use it as instructed on the directions. The results for most kits last approximately 7 to 14 days.

OTC Teeth Whitening Danger 2: Burns

An OTC bleaching kit that you purchase at the pharmacy does not contain customized products to fit your unique dental anatomy, unlike a professional whitening treatment. That means your gums are at risk of developing mild to severe burns, as the bleach can be held up to the soft oral tissues of the gums for as long as 30 minutes at a time.

In contrast, professional whitening is applied according to the specific dimensions of your teeth and gums. That makes it the safest possible choice for teeth whitening.

OTC Teeth Whitening Danger 3: Allergic Reactions

The risk of allergic reaction is always present with teeth whitening, even if it’s a minor risk. We’ve heard stories of lips that double in size from the swelling and of gums and lips that feel like they are burning for days.  If you choose to whiten with an OTC product, you can avoid some of the risk of allergic reaction by consulting with your dentist first. We will discuss all allergies and your health history to ensure that you can safely move forward with a bleaching treatment.

OTC Teeth Whitening Danger 4: Sensitive Teeth

Sensitive teeth is something we see many people experience after they use OTC whitening products. It may be feeling a “zinger” while you are wearing the bleach during the treatment. Or it can linger as long-lasting sensitivity to cold and hot foods and beverages. We can help you avoid this sensitivity, as your dentist will be able to make special adjustments or recommendations to your treatment plan if you are at a high risk of developing teeth sensitivity.

Safe and Effective Aligners and Teeth Whitening

If you have questions about over-the-counter dental products, just ask us! Remember, the best way to ensure a healthy, straight, and bright smile, without damaging your gums, teeth, and bite during the process, is by scheduling your Smile Consultation appointment at Overland Park Dentistry. We can discuss your smile goals, oral health, and budget to decide which method of teeth straightening and whitening is the best for you and your smile.

Local dentist, Dr. Charles R. Kimes, DDS, and his team at Overland Park Dentistry look forward to having the opportunity to care for you and your family with preventativerestorative or cosmetic dentistry treatments. To schedule your dental appointment with your Overland Park Dentist, contact us at our south Overland Park office at (913) 647-8700 or our north Overland Park office at (913) 341-2380.

Overland Park Dentistry
Even though going to the dentist is one of my least favorite things to do, my experience with Dr. Kimes have always been good. They are both very kind and considerate and try to treat you as painlessly as possible.