Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Dental Hygiene








Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine if vital tooth whitening affects oral health-related quality of life (OHRQOL) in adults age 50 years and older, and if tooth whitening causes increased participation in social activities.

Methods: Using a 2 group, single blind, randomized, pre-test, multiple post-test design, 62 participants were enrolled. The experimental group used a whitening product twice daily for 3 weeks. The control group used no whitening products. The Oral Health Impact Profile (OHIP) served as the pre- and post-test measure. The OHIP measures OHRQOL on 7 subscales: functional factors, psychological disabilities, psychological discomforts, physical disabilities, social disabilities, handicaps and physical pain. Additional questions measured the subjects' social activities at baseline, 3 weeks and 3 months. Data from 53 participants, who completed the study, were analyzed using paired t-tests and ANOVA at p=0.05.

Results: Statistical significance was observed for the OHIP physical pain subscale (p=0.0029) and the handicap subscale (p=0.05). Pre- to post-test means of the physical pain subscale increased in the experimental group (4.84 to 7.10), suggesting a lower OHRQOL, most likely related to tooth sensitivity experienced by the experimental group. Means from pre- to post-test of the handicap subscale (1.96 to 1.19) reveal that the experimental group reported an improved OHRQOL and felt they were more willing to work. Repeated measures ANOVA and Tukey's post-hoc tests revealed that the experimental group reported significantly less (p=0.04) social activities at the 3 month post-test (3.92 to 3.45). No statistically significant between-group differences were observed in the overall OHIP score for functional factors, psychological disabilities, psychological discomforts, physical disabilities and social disabilities.

Conclusion: Results indicate that vital tooth whitening does not improve overall OHRQOL in older adults.


Article available with permission from the American Dental Hygienists Association.

Original Publication Citation

Bruhn, A. M., Darby, M. L., McCombs, G. B., & Lynch, C. M. (2012). Vital tooth whitening effects on oral health-related quality of life in older adults. Journal of Dental Hygiene, 86(3), 239-247.