Although brushing regularly will certainly help keep your teeth looking great, more and more people are turning to teeth whitening products and procedures to give them the bright look that they want. There are several options for teeth whitening available today, each with its own benefits and disadvantages. Generally, these options fall into two categories: in-office bleaching and at-home whitening products.
Some dentists recommend in-office bleaching for patients who are interested in teeth whitening procedures. This procedure is done in the dentist’s office and typically takes about 30 minutes to one hour per visit, and multiple visits are often required to get the desired results.
One benefit of this procedure is that the dentist is present to make sure the bleaching agent is applied safely and thoroughly. These procedures also involve protection of the gums, either with a protective gel or a rubber shield, which ensures that this area of the mouth is not affected by the bleach. Once the bleaching agent is applied, a special light or a laser is sometimes used to speed up the whitening process.
As with other teeth whitening treatments, temporary teeth sensitivity is a common effect of the procedure. Results may vary; some people find that the results aren’t as dramatic as with other whitening treatments. One risk of using this treatment is a potential allergy to the bleaching agent or the protective gel that is applied during the procedure.
At-Home Whitening Products
A variety of over-the-counter products are now available for those who wish to whiten their teeth at home. The most popular type of these at-home products is whitening strips. The strips contain a bleaching agent that is applied by sticking the whitening strips to the surface of the teeth. There are a wide variety of brands which offer teeth whitening strips, each which requires a different number of strips over a varying amount of time. Some of the most common whitening strip products involve using strips once a day for one or two weeks.
In addition to whitening strips, there are also bleaching solutions which come in bulkier trays. With these, the user puts the bleaching agent in the tray and holds them in their mouth like a mouth guard. Depending on the product, the tray may be applied for anywhere from a matter of minutes to overnight.
Finally, there are teeth whitening toothpastes. These toothpastes contain chemical or polishing agents that help with removing stains. Unlike bleach products, these toothpastes simply remove stains from the surface of teeth rather than changing their intrinsic color. For that reason, many people use these products daily with no expected time of stopping. Whitening toothpastes are viewed as more of a tooth color maintenance tool rather than a one-time or limited-time whitening procedure.
With any of the above at-home whitening products, tooth sensitivity may result. The actual effect can vary from person to person, although bleaching products generally have more noticeable results compared to toothpastes. One risk of using one of these products for whitening teeth is that some products have not been approved by the American Dental Association (ADA). For safe and effective results, always choose an over-the-counter whitening product with the ADA seal of approval on the packaging.
Tips to Keep in Mind
Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a teeth whitening treatment:
- No product or procedure is guaranteed to whiten your teeth. A dentist may be able to predict which products or procedures will work best for you, but results can still vary from person to person with each type of treatment.
- No product or procedure is completely without risk. Some products may damage tooth enamel if they are applied incorrectly or left on for too long. Additionally, some people may experience allergic reactions to the products involved in these treatments. For the best results, only use ADA-approved products or choose a procedure that has been approved by your dentist.
- Do not undergo any in-office teeth whitening procedures that are being performed in a non-dental venue. Lawmakers in many states are currently trying to increase the limitations of non-dental entities attempting to offer these treatments. Any in-office treatment should be performed in a dentist’s office. If you are not sure if a specific treatment should be used, ask your dentist first.
Always make sure you talk to your dentist before undergoing any type of teeth whitening procedure or buying teeth whitening products. Certain teeth types are not well-suited to teeth whitening. For instance, teeth with bonding or tooth-colored fillings may not react well with tooth whitening products or procedures. Additionally, if your teeth have a grayish hue rather than a yellowish hue, they may not respond to whitening treatments at all. If you are still concerned with improving the look of your teeth, options like veneers may be better for you.