Whiter teeth can improve your smile and appearance, so it’s no wonder that teeth whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic dentistry options. Discoloration of teeth can be caused by the build-up of surface stains acquired from using tobacco products and consuming certain foods or drinks. Teeth whitening methods give everyone a chance to enjoy a bright smile.
Not all treatments are suitable for everyone, so it’s a good idea to check with your dentist before deciding which whitening option to go with. Some procedures use bleach while others do not, and everyone’s tolerance to the treatment is different.
Teeth whitening is ideal for people who have healthy gums and teeth. Most bleaching products are peroxide-based. The peroxide is what bleaches your tooth enamel and makes your teeth whiter. The concentration of the peroxide typically determines the strength of the whitening treatment. The percentages of peroxide currently found in teeth whitening products are 10%, 16%, and 22%.
Not all discolored teeth respond to bleaching treatments. For example, bleaching will not work on fillings, crowns, or other restorations. Your dentist can tell you if your teeth and gums are healthy enough to go through a whitening process. If your dentist determines that you are a candidate to have your teeth whitened, you will need to decide which teeth whitening method to go with.
Your teeth-whitening options include teeth whitening toothpaste, over-the-counter whitening strips and gels, whitening rinses, tray-based tooth whiteners, and in-office whitening. These can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to show results. If you want white teeth now, Zoom! Whitening is an option that can turn your teeth 5 to 8 shades whiter in one dental appointment.
Whitening toothpaste is limited to removing surface stains on your teeth. They contain special abrasives, as well as polishing or chemical agents that promote stain removal. The ingredients are usually just finer versions of the ones used in regular toothpastes, so they are unlikely to cause excessive wear to the teeth. However, because whitening toothpaste does not contain bleach, it can only make your teeth about one shade lighter.
Over-the-counter and professional whitening products produce more noticeable results because they contain ingredients that help lighten the color deep within the tooth. Whitening gels are applied directly to the surface of your teeth with a small brush twice a day for 14 days. You will generally see a significant change in color after a few days, and the final results usually last for about four months.
Whitening strips are coated with a peroxide-based whitening gel and applied for 30 minutes two times a day, for 14 days. The results occur in the same amount of time as the toothpaste and also last about four months.
Whitening rinses, like most mouthwashes, freshen breath and help reduce dental plaque and gum disease while also including ingredients like hydrogen peroxide that whiten teeth. They need to be swished around in your mouth for 60 seconds twice a day before you brush your teeth. Rinses are usually less effective than other over-the-counter whitening products because a rinse is only in contact with the teeth for two minutes a day, as opposed to 30 minutes for the strips, and it can take up to 12 weeks to produce results.
Tray-based whitening systems work by filling a mouth guard-like appliance with a gel whitening solution that contains a peroxide-bleaching agent and then wearing the tray for a period of time. Depending on the initial level of discoloration it can take a few hours a day to every night for up to four weeks or longer. Tray whitening kits can be purchased over the counter or from your dentist. Ones from the dentist produce faster and more effective results because they contain a stronger peroxide-bleaching agent. Professional trays from your dentist can be custom made and fit your teeth, while over-the-counter trays come in generic sizes. Trays that don’t fit correctly can allow the bleaching agent to come into contact with your gums and cause irritation.
In-office whitening is the quickest way to brighten your teeth. Professional treatment does cost more than the other options, but the results are usually worth the investment. Professional treatment includes applying the whitening product directly to your teeth, then exposing them to a heat source, a special light, or a laser. Professional whitening by your dentist can make your teeth three to eight shades lighter. You can see dramatic results in just one 30- to 60-minute treatment! Ongoing treatments are usually recommended to maintain satisfying results.
In the past, teeth whitening was considered a luxury only the wealthy could afford. Through recent advances, whitening is now an affordable and common practice that deliver significant benefits. These benefits touch on the professional, personal and social lives of those who go through the teeth whitening procedure. Understanding these important benefits has helped the few who have remained skeptical appreciate the importance of investing in whitening treatments.
Socially, having a great smile is an excellent way of gaining confidence. A confident smile gives you the opportunity to enjoy a healthy and fulfilling social life. The more confident you are about your smile, the more motivated you will be to take good care of it with regular dental checkups and a good oral hygiene routine.
Today, teeth whitening procedures are much more affordable and often considered a great investment. For your health and safety, be sure that the procedure is performed or guided by a qualified and experienced dental professional. Your dentist can advise you on the latest and most effective whitening methods for the best possible results.