Dental Teeth Whitening Can Give You A Friendlier Smile
You’ve made the realization - your teeth could be whiter.
Either your teeth become darker as you grow older (which is normal as you age), or they get stained consuming certain foods, drinks, smoking tobacco, and a wide list of other reasons.
They can also become discolored when the enamel on your teeth wears thin, which allows dentin (a yellow substance that makes up the center of your tooth), to show through.
Regardless of the reason for your discoloration I know you want a white smile, and you can have it!
The solution is often to whiten your teeth (sounds obvious, right?).
2 Teeth Whitening Methods Involving Bleach
There are two main ways you can whiten your teeth.
Option #1: You can have an in office bleaching treatment. Within the hour you can expect your teeth to be significantly whiter than they were when you came in.
The teeth whitening procedure involves applying a rubber dam over your teeth and taking special precautions to make sure it is sealed around the teeth properly which protects the rest of your mouth from the bleaching gel being applied to your teeth.
Once you’re protected, a high concentration peroxide gel is placed on your teeth. The peroxide is called “carbamide peroxide”. Once the carbamide peroxide is placed on your teeth, it reacts and turns into “hydrogen peroxide”, which you’ve probably used to treat and disinfect cuts or wounds.
The gel is left on your teeth for around an hour at which point the peroxide will have whitened your teeth. In most instances a high intensity light is used on the teeth to improve the effectiveness of the peroxide bleaching gel. The light excites the peroxide molecules making them more effective at whitening your teeth.The most common term used for this type of whitening is Laser Whitening although the light used is not really a lazer.
Option #2: Take-home teeth whitening kits.
The strength of the peroxide gel used in these kits is lower than the gel used for in-office bleaching. It is the method of bleaching I prefer my patients to use. The lower concentrated peroxide gel is less harmful to the soft tissues in your mouth and hence does not require the use of a rubber dam to isolate your teeth. Due to the lower concentration of the bleaching gel it will need to be applied more often to your teeth to create the whitening effect you want.
The advantages of take home teeth whitening kits is you have full control over how long you bleach your teeth at a time that is convenient for you. There is less risk involved with using a lower concentration of bleaching gel and usually less tooth sensitivity after the procedure which can occur for a short period of time. Also bleaching your teeth is not permanent and you have the option to bleach your teeth in the future at your convenience to maintain your whiter teeth.
It’s important that you still come in and get proper instructions from a dentist, and do more than just “read the label”; improper use of these home kits could cause damage to your gums or other parts of your mouth/body.
There are a few types of kits that you can buy. They come in the form of whitening strips, paint-on whitening, or dental trays. For the purpose of effective illustration, I’m going to just focus on dental trays today.
You can see a dental tray pictured below. It’s a plastic device, very similar to a mouthguard that you might wear when playing sports.
Here’s how the kit works (it’s simple): apply the provided peroxide gel on the tray, and then put it in your mouth over your teeth.
You can wear the tray for a couple of hours each day (overnight works great). I might recommend you do this for a few days, or even a few weeks, depending on your specific case. You'll want a personal recommendation before you get your kit though, otherwise you might end up with a whitening plan that's isn't right for you.
I've written more about the different types of teeth whitening kits here.
Another Option: Surface Whiteners
If you have some surface stains on your teeth, surface whiteners may be a cheap option to help brighten your smile.
An example of a surface whitener? How about...
...chewing gum! Or it might be a special “whitening toothpaste”. That’s pretty simple right? Just toothpaste and chewing gum - no need to visit a professional right?
Well, these surface whiteners may be cheap and easy-to-obtain, but there’s a reason for that; they aren’t particularly powerful! Surface whiteners are only really useful for light surface stains on your teeth.
They're are no substitute for trays or professional whitening, but they could prove useful if you’re “in-between” whitenings right now.
Some options for tooth whitening gum include:
If you’re not into gum, you might try some teeth-whitening toothpaste. Some examples:
- Arm & Hammer Peroxicare
- Colgate Total Advanced
- Rembrandt Fluoride
- Aquafresh Whitening Action
- Crest 3D
As I mentioned before, these won’t be even close to the effectiveness of a professional treatment, but for the sake of comprehensiveness I wanted to include them.
You can also learn more about the dangers of teeth whitening here.