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How To Stop Saliva While Teeth Whitening

The best way to stop your saliva from pooling while you are teeth whitening is to go to sleep while using the product. This fact is confirmed by KoR Whitening's take home whitening kit instructions. Their system uses customized whitening trays where you whiten your teeth while you sleep.


KoR specifically recommends that you start the whitening treatment right before you go to bed. It is not advisable to sit around with it while watching tv or doing something while awake. They allege that the increased salivation occurs as a result of being awake. Therefore you should be salivating less if you're asleep.


KoR whitening kit
KoR whitening kit

That's right, you can stop or at the very least decrease the amount of saliva that forms while teeth whitening if you simply go to sleep. Here is a study from Archives of Oral Biology which measured the saliva volume produced over the course of a day for 5 year old boys. They allege that it is virtually zero when they're asleep.


In case you were wondering why we produce more saliva while we're awake vs when we're asleep, it has to do with oromotor movements. According to this study by Sleep Medicine Reviews, when we're awake we produce more saliva because it helps to lubricate the oromotor movements in our mouths. However when we're asleep, most of the movements stop so we stop salivating.


Nonetheless, we understand that not every whitening product is used while you sleep so you may still be wondering how to stop the saliva from coming. If you can't, you may at least want to reduce the amount of saliva while you're asleep. Thus, our purpose here today is to show you various ways on how to stop or reduce saliva with different types of teeth whitening products.


How to stop saliva while teeth whitening while awake

There are many teeth whitening products where you're only supposed to whiten for a short duration of time, which makes them unsuitable for sleeping with. For these awake whitening sessions, you won't be able to stop the saliva completely but there are ways to help reduce some of the saliva production.


How to stop saliva while teeth whitening:

  1. Lay supine. After putting on whitening strips on, lay down on bed/sofa.

  2. Swallow frequently. When saliva starts to pool, swallow it immediately.

  3. Minimize tongue movements. Oral movements stimulate salivary flow.

  4. Repeat steps 2-3 until you finish the treatment.

  5. Remove the strips.


These tips are fairly universal so they can be applied to all of the products above. We will use the Crest 3D White Strips as an example since they are one of the most common and readily available. For this product depending on the specific variation, you basically wear the strips for 30-60 minutes in total. After that you just remove the strips and you're done.


Examples of whitening products where you stay awake:

  • Whitening strips

  • Whitening strips with LED light

  • Ready to wear whitening trays

  • Home remedies with or without hydrogen peroxide


By laying down, you won't necessarily stop the saliva but you can at least prevent it from touching the whitening strips because you continually keep swallowing it. What that does is it increases the effectiveness of the whitening treatment because your saliva has a lot of enzymes in it. The saliva is the enemy of whitening gel because they actually start to break down the material if it comes into contact for too long with it. Thus, the faster you swallow saliva the less chances it has of coming into contact with the strips.


What happens if you swallow teeth whitening gel?

Nothing bad will happen to you if you swallow the teeth whitening gel. There aren't any detrimental side effects that will make you grow 4 arms or make you sick. The reason why it is safe is because the concentration for the whitening gels are usually lower for take home products vs the in-office ones. The professional products at your dentist are of significantly higher concentrations.


In regards to the safety of swallowing the gel, the toxicology department of the public health of England states that low concentration hydrogen peroxide gets rapidly detoxified prior to even reaching the blood stream. Only miniscule amounts even make it into your system. This is important to note because the vast majority of teeth whitening products are made of hydrogen peroxide or a derivative of it so this principle applies.


Last but not least, don't forget that your saliva has a lot of enzymes in it that are waiting to deactivate the whitening gel. This is the reason why you were trying to avoid salivating while whitening in the first place. This means that salivation will naturally deactivate the gel into a harmless substance.


To summarize, it is not harmful for you to swallow any of the whitening gel while you're whitening. Usually towards the end of the session, most of the gel has stopped working or providing benefit anyway. That is why you have to take off the strips after a certain amount of time because it's no longer effective.


How to stop saliva while teeth whitening with a product where you can sleep with it

If you're using a teeth whitening product that will allow you to sleep with it, the best way to stop the saliva is simply to go to sleep. As the two studies above have shown, saliva either completely stops or slows down significantly while you're asleep.


The teeth whitening products that may permit to sleep with:

  • Ready to wear trays.

  • Customized take home solutions by your dentist.


How to stop the saliva while using these products:

  1. Put on the trays or material prior to going to bed.

  2. Go to sleep.

  3. You will naturally swallow your saliva while you're asleep.

  4. Remove the material when you wake up.


What to do with saliva when teeth whitening

Basically while you're whitening whether you are awake or asleep, you should swallow the saliva. Swallowing it is the best thing to do because it prevents it from interfering with the gel. Once again the saliva has a lot of enzymes within it that will attempt to deactivate the gel so you should swallow it to maximize the effectiveness of your whitening.


A study by the College of Family Physicians of Canada found that hydrogen peroxide gets rapidly detoxified prior to even entering your system. This is consistent with what the public health department of England said. In other words, all of that low concentration of hydrogen peroxide which you're swallowing is not harmful to you.


Takeaway

As long as you are whitening your teeth when you're awake, saliva will start to pool because that's a natural function of your body. Oromotor movements stimulate saliva production in order to lubricate your mouth and protect the soft tissue.


If your whitening treatment allows you to sleep with it while it whitens, the best thing to do would be to go to sleep. Your saliva production slows down significantly while you're sleeping.


Having less saliva in your mouth while you're whitening is advantageous because it contains a lot of enzymes which can deactivate the whitening gel. The more effectively you can keep saliva away, the more effective your treatment will be. Too much saliva can ruin your whitening treatment.


However, if you're not able to sleep with it then you can at least down in bed while you whiten. That way the saliva will pool towards the back of your throat. What you can do with the saliva at that point is simply to swallow it. It is perfectly safe to do so since most of it has not even touched the whitening gel. Aside from that, the saliva will automatically break down the gel anyway so it's not harmful to swallow it.

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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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