As time goes by, almost everyone can benefit from having his or her teeth whitened. Drinking coffee, cola, or red wine, smoking, taking certain medications, or simple aging can all cause the enamel on teeth to discolor (some illnesses or genetics can cause even deeper discoloration). The difference between stained or yellow teeth and a whiter smile is enormous! Let’s take a closer look at the options and what approach might be best for you.
At-Home Teeth Whitening
The number of alternatives to whiten your teeth at home has expanded in recent years. Whitening strips, gels, trays, and toothpaste all promise whiter, brighter smiles. Generally speaking, you’ll realize results that should last a few months if you’re committed to the time and effort to whiten at home.
The methods to whiten teeth at home all aim to remove surface stains through abrasives and some include chemical agents to provide additional removal of stubborn enamel stains. Most approaches, however, don’t whiten deeply discolored stains.
Whitening toothpaste doesn’t include a bleaching agent but focuses more on coarse ingredients to shift stains from the surface of the teeth. The actual lightening effect for teeth from toothpaste is minimal.
Whitening gels include hydrogen peroxide, are applied directly to the surface of your teeth, and must be applied twice a day for about two weeks. A similar approach is whitening strips that are coated with a peroxide whitening gel and usually used twice daily for up to one hour for 14 days. Both treatments give results that last about four months. The peroxide included is a fraction of what is used in a professional setting.
Some patients prefer teeth whitening trays they wear at home. Using a peroxide bleaching process, patients use a gel solution with a mouth tray for a couple of hours every day or even overnight, for about four weeks. It’s important to get a teeth tray that is custom-fitted for your mouth to ensure good contact between the tray, gel, and teeth.
All at-home teeth whitening options take several weeks to see changes and the whiter teeth last a shorter amount of time than professional whitening. The reason is simply because over-the-counter solutions include much less whitening agents, about 3% hydrogen peroxide, than professional cleaning. At-home whitening, however, is very convenient and is less expensive, but can cause gum irritation and sensitivity if not monitored adequately.
Professional Teeth Whitening
In-office, or chairside, bleaching procedures typically use more powerful whitening agents, up to 35% hydrogen peroxide concentration, to ensure a whiter smile in a shorter amount of time. If you’re serious about teeth whitening or have stubborn stains, it’s hard to beat professional, in-office teeth whitening treatment.
To ensure deeper whitening of the enamel, and to remove tough stains, a light or laser is often shined on the teeth that have been treated with a whitening gel. This process is significantly accelerated compared to at-home whitening and usually requires just two sessions that last about an hour each. Also, the range and the number of teeth that can be whitened are much greater than at-home whitening strips, which usually are only able to whiten the front teeth.
In addition to laser or light therapy for teeth whitening, patients can consider getting custom-fitted whitening trays and using these at home. As detailed above, the process takes longer, and the results aren’t quite as noticeable, but can be effective and are a convenient alternative. Our office offers complimentary, custom-fit whitening trays for our patients!
Consulting a dentist for teeth whitening is also necessary for patients that have veneers, crowns, or dental bonding to explore what options are possible, as teeth whitening may not be viable or appropriate.
While professional whitening of teeth is more expensive than the at-home process, you will realize dramatic results faster that will last longer than at-home options. It’s also important to consider that having teeth whitened by dental professionals ensure all precautions are taken before treatment, the reaction of gums and sensitivity is monitored or avoided, and necessary cleaning and any cavities or dental issues are taken care of before starting the process.
Having your teeth whitened is a great, effective way to eliminate stains, lighten, and brighten your teeth! A healthy, white smile is the goal, and it’s great to have options that deliver results. If you are considering whitening your teeth, we’d love to help explore the options and make sure the result is just what you expect! Contact us to set up a time to discuss teeth whitening at (303) 284-6463 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.