Dentist-Approved Ways to Get Whiter Teeth
Our teeth can discolor through the years as our enamel wears down. The wearing down of enamel allows dentin, a yellow color substance that makes the core of our teeth, to show through. This is what gives our teeth a yellowish tint. Teeth whitening helps restore teeth to a shiny white color through the use of bleach.
Teeth whitening is the process of lightening the color of one’s tooth. This is done by removing or controlling extrinsic stains, or completely changing the intrinsic teeth color. Almost everyone can qualify for teeth whitening. However, it’s not safe for you to do so without professional assessment. A dentist needs to check your oral health before they can recommend the safest whitening method for you. The method will heavily depend on the severity and type of staining.
There are several ways to whiten your teeth according to dentists. These range from do-it-yourself methods to in-office whitening. You need to learn the differences between these before you make your decision.
While all toothpastes can help remove surface stains, there are specialized toothpastes with chemical agents and gentle polishing with additional stain removal properties. They usually don’t contain bleach, however, so they will only remove surface stains.
More professional products contain chemicals like hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide which can help lighten teeth color. These can help whiten teeth by one shade.
Are whitening toothpastes safe to use? Most products sold over-the-counter have an ADA Seal of Acceptance. This means they can be distributed without prescription. Since whitening toothpastes use low levels of chemicals, they are safe and effective to use without professional guidance.
These are like mouthwashes, so their primary function is to freshen your breath and reduce gum disease and dental plaque. What makes them different is that they contain chemicals like hydrogen peroxide which can whiten your teeth.
Like whitening toothpastes, you can’t expect immediate results as the amount of chemical added is reduced to the safest level for home use. Most manufacturers say that they will take at least 12 weeks before you can see the results. They will also only help the teeth become one color lighter.
The advantage is that they don't cost much. Also, you don’t need a professional to guide you on how to use them. It will only take 60 seconds to use whitening rinses, preferably before you wash your teeth.
The disadvantage is that they are the least effective OTC whitening product. This is because the rinse will only come in contact with your teeth for a short time.
Whitening Strips and Gels
Like other over-the-counter products in this list, whitening strips and gels also get the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Both contain peroxide which help in teeth whitening. Unlike toothpastes and rinses however, you need to follow a more deliberate instruction in using them.
Whitening strips are thin, almost invisible strips coated with peroxide gel. A box of these will come with detailed instructions. Some strips only have the whitening gel on one side, so you must be careful in applying this side to your teeth. The gel needs to be in contact with the entire teeth surface but not with the gums.
Whitening gels, on the other hand, are clear gels with peroxide. You apply it like you apply toothpaste. Using a small brush, put the gel on your teeth’s surface. There might be more instructions that you need to follow when applying whitening gels depending on the brand of the gel.
Both the whitening strips and gels must be left on the teeth for about 30 minutes. Results can be seen within a few days and can be sustained for months. Dentists strongly advise against using strips and gels often. These products contain agents that may reduce your teeth’s firmness. Constant usage will lead to surface changes, especially if you have had teeth restorations.
Teeth Whitening Options Available in Our Office
There are two popular teeth whitening options available through your dentist. The first, in-office teeth whitening, produces a significant color change in your teeth in a short amount of time, usually within an hour. The procedure is done at the dentist's office by applying a high-concentration peroxide gel on the teeth after they have been protected with a special shield.
The second method, involves the use of take home whitening kits. These whitening kits are purchased from your doctor for use at home. The strength of the gel used in these kits is lower than that used for in-office bleaching, and thus the gel can be applied for longer periods of time. Usually the trays are worn a couple hours a day or overnight for a few days or weeks depending on the product.
Tray-Based Teeth Whitening
Tray-based teeth whitening systems can be purchased from a dentist or over the counter. However, even if you buy them from a pharmacy, you still need the supervision of a professional as they are not eligible for an ADA Seal of Acceptance. You can apply them at home or at a dentist’s office.
This method of whitening involves filling the mouth with a guard-like tray that will comfortably fit your own teeth. The tray contains a gel with peroxide concentration-- usually 10% to 38% carbamide peroxide. The frequency and length of treatment is determined by the concentration used. The concentration depends on the degree of teeth discoloration and the level of whiteness you wish to achieve.
This might be the quickest and most effective way to whiten your teeth. In-office bleaching involves applying a whitening product directly to your teeth. This whitening product usually has a concentration of hydrogen peroxide ranging from 15% to 35%.
This product might be applied together with laser, heat, or other special light to accelerate the process or enhance the result. Dentists suggest light-activated systems as they do produce better and more immediate effects. When the non-light system is used, the concentration of bleach used is higher.
The treatment will last 30 to 60 minutes, and the results are dramatic. Your teeth will show visible changes just after the first appointment. However you might have to go back for more treatments for the results to last longer.
The biggest drawback of this teeth whitening method is that it’s the most expensive. If you don’t have the money to get in-office whitening, you can start off with over-the-counter products.
Depending on the method you’ve chosen, your teeth will experience a varying degree of whiteness. Which one is the best for you? If you want the most reliable answer, you should consult a dentist.
Teeth whitening is never permanent. Depending on the method you choose, it might last from a few weeks to months. However, if you don’t maintain them, you’ll eventually lose the color again.
People expose their teeth to different foods and beverages daily. These will stain the teeth and cause the whiteness to fade. If you want to keep your teeth’s color without undergoing constant treatment, you might want to avoid foods and beverages that cause severe staining. This is especially necessary when the method you’ve chosen only requires a yearly touch-up. Thus, it’s necessary to pair teeth whitening with good eating habits.