Teeth Whitening

Effective Whitening Systems

There are many teeth whitening products on the market today. These include toothpastes that will whiten the teeth, gels that can be purchased over-the-counter, trays and strips, and of course, teeth whitening agents that can be given to you by the dentist. Teeth whitening is important if you have healthy teeth and no filings and healthy gums. Those persons who have yellowing teeth will respond best to such treatment procedures. However, the procedures aren't recommended for just anyone.

Whitening Toothpastes

Toothpastes work to help remove the surface stains on your teeth by using mild abrasives. Some of the toothpastes that whiten teeth will use a gentle polish or a chemical that will help to remove stains more effectively. The whitening toothpastes will only remove the stains, they don't have any bleach in them. However, using over-the-counter whitening agents work because they have hydrogen peroxide in them which removes the stains and helps to bleach the surface of the tooth as well. This will help to brighten your smile by whitening your teeth. In contrast, the light-activated compounds that the dentist uses will help to whiten your teeth from three shades to eight shades whiter.

Over-The-Counter Whitening Gels And Strips

Gels are applied via a small brush that "paints" the gel directly on the surface of your tooth. You "paint" this on twice per day for 14 days. You'll see results within a few days and the final results will last for approximately 4 months depending on what you're eating (blueberries and coffee, for example, can stain). The whitening strips are thin and nearly invisible and you'll apply these directly to the teeth. They are coated with peroxide and you'll put these on twice per day for 14 days as well. You'll leave them on for about 30 minutes each time you apply them. You'll also see results in just a few short days and the final results will last for approximately 4 months. Total retail price for these will vary from $10 to $55 depending on the product that you choose.

Tray-Based Tooth Whitening Products

You can purchase these either at your dental office or over-the-counter. You'll fill a mouthguard tray with a whitening solution that is like a gel. You'll then put this into your mouth and wear it for a few minutes to a few hours each day for about 4 weeks or longer if your teeth are very stained.

In-Office Whitening Procedures

These work the quickest and are easy to have done. The dentist will use an in-office bleaching and whitening product. They will apply this to your teeth and use it with a special heat sensor that will give it a zap of light. It's usually a laser light. This light accelerates the whitening of the product. The results will be nearly instantaneous. However, you'll have to have several appointments and procedures for them to last.

How Long Do Whitening Products Last?

It's important to note that this procedure will have to be repeated anywhere from monthly to several times per year. It will be dependent on the foods and beverages that you consume. Obviously blueberries and coffee stain your teeth, while mashed potatoes won't. Also, everyone's teeth will react differently to the products so you'll have to determine how frequently each person needs to have the procedure done to see results.

Over-the-Counter Products Vs. Dentist-Supervised Products

There are a few differences in the two procedures.

  • Strength of the bleaching agents - The dental office is going to use a stronger bleaching solution compared to the over-the-counter products. This could be the difference of 7 to ten percent depending on the product used.
  • Mouthpiece trays - The mouthpiece trays that are done at home will be ill-fitting (one size fits all) but if the dentist gives you this kit they will fit the mouth piece to your specific mouth so it's going to fit much better. Custom made trays help to reduce the contact of the product with the gums.
  • Other protective measures - Over-the-counter products also require that you leave them in longer, some as long as overnight. This can irritate sensitive gums and the tongue. The dentist will protect the gums and the tongue as well as the palate from the effects of the bleaching.
  • Supervised vs. unsupervised process - Supervised vs. Unsupervised whitening processes: The dentist that gives you a product to use at home will offer you more benefits to protect your mouth and gums than a generic, one-size-fits-all product that you get over-the-counter. Your dentist can also perform an oral exam that will take into account your entire dental history and the rest of your medical history to focus on proper whitening techniques for your teeth. The dentist can select the best product for your specific needs. This will be determined on the type of stains and how long they've been on your teeth.

Dental supervised procedures will involve several treatments per year and ensure that you're doing the procedure as directed. They'll ensure that the trays fit your mouth properly and that your gums have no signs of irritation. They'll also see how your teeth are reacting to the procedure. When you use an over-the-counter product you'll be the only one to monitor it and you'll have to guesstimate whether or not it's working properly for your specific needs in your mouth. Not all products are the same or work the same so this can present issues as well. Your dentist can best advise you on whitening procedures.