Obtaining white teeth can do wonders for your smile and appearance. It’s no wonder that teeth whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic dentistry options.
In addition to the discoloration caused by the build-up of surface stains acquired from using tobacco products and consuming certain foods or drinks, the average person’s teeth are naturally shades of light grayish-yellow, and naturally become darker with age. Teeth whitening methods give everyone a chance to enjoy bright smiles that would otherwise not be available to them.
Not all treatments are suitable for everyone, so it is important to check with your dentist before deciding which tooth whitening option to go with. Some treatments use bleach while others do not, and not everyone’s teeth are suited for bleaching.
Teeth whitening is ideal for people who have healthy gums and teeth, with no fillings. Teeth with yellow tones respond best to whitening.
Most bleaching products are peroxide-based. The peroxide is what actually bleaches your tooth enamel and makes your teeth whiter. The strength 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 discoloured teeth respond to bleaching treatments. For example, bleaching will not work for patients with root canal treatments, fillings, crowns and/or extremely dark stains on their front teeth. Only your dentist can tell you if your teeth and gums are healthy enough to go through a whitening process.
If your dentist has determined 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.
Teeth Whitening Toothpastes
Whitening toothpastes are limited to removing surface stains on the teeth. They use special abrasives, as well as additional polishing or chemical agents that aid stain removal. Because the abrasives are usually just finer versions of the ones used in regular toothpastes, they are unlikely to cause excessive wear to the teeth. However, because whitening toothpastes do not contain bleach, they can only make your teeth about one shade lighter.
Over-the-Counter Whitening Strips and Gels
Over-the-counter and professional whitening products produce more noticeable results because they contain hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide that helps lighten the color deep within the tooth.
Whitening gels are clear, peroxide-based gels that you apply directly to the surface of your teeth with a small brush. They usually need to be applied twice a day for 14 days. You will generally see initial results in a few days, and the final results usually last for about four months.
Whitening strips are thin, virtually invisible strips coated with a peroxide-based whitening gel. You apply the strips for 30 minutes two times a day, for 14 days. You can see the initial results in a few days, and enjoy the final results for 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 said by some experts to be less effective than other over-the-counter whitening products because a whitening rinse is only in contact with the teeth for two minutes a day, as opposed to 30 minutes for many strips. Manufacturers say they may take up to 12 weeks to produce results.
Tray-Based Tooth Whiteners
Tray-based tooth whitening systems work by filling a mouth guard-like tray with a gel whitening solution that contains a peroxide-bleaching agent and then wearing the tray for a period of time, generally from a few hours a day to every night for up to four weeks or longer (depending on how discolored your teeth are and how white you want to make them). They 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 than whitening products purchased over the counter. They are also custom made and fit your teeth exactly, while over-the-counter trays come in generic sizes and could allow the bleaching agent to come into contact with your gums and cause irritation.
In-office bleaching is the quickest way to whiten teeth. While dentist-administered procedures are generally very expensive, they produce the best results. As well, they will give you a better sense of how effective the treatment will be. It involves applying the whitening product directly to the teeth, and combining it with heat, a special light, and/or a laser. This light-activated 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, although several appointments are usually needed.