Whiter and Brighter

People want a white smile. A nice set of pearly whites make you look cleaner and younger. So you want to whiten your teeth, but which products work the best? In today’s world, it seems that everyone has a way to whiten your teeth, from herbal remedies and over the counter options to professional in-office whitening. Here we will discuss a few ways to whiten your teeth and what you need to know to whiten safely.

Whitening Toothpastes. Crest, Colgate, Sensodyne, all have whitening tooth pastes they market and sell. How do they work? Most of the whitening toothpastes on the market work by removing the surface stains in teeth by using more abrasives to mechanically remove the coffee and tea stains that have collected on your teeth. These pastes do a moderate job of making your teeth whiter, but it may come at a cost. The more abrasives in the toothpaste, the more wear on your teeth. Whitening toothpastes can be up to twice as abrasive as regular toothpastes. While using a tube or two of whitening toothpaste may not cause any noticeable wear on your teeth, if that is the toothpaste you use exclusively it may cause long term damage to your teeth. Some tooth whitening systems have begun to add peroxide to the paste but the limited exposure at a low concentration may not give you as good of a result as the whitening strips or professional trays.

White Strips. Over the counter white strips will use a peroxide (hydrogen or carbamide) to whiten the teeth inside and out. The over the counter products may contain around 10% peroxide. Peroxides work by changing the natural tooth color both on the surface and within the tooth. The use of peroxide can cause teeth to become sensitive as it may temporarily unblock nerve fibers in the tooth. To limit sensitivity, it is smart to use a sensitive toothpaste 10-14 days prior to beginning any bleaching regimen. Bleaching with peroxides can also cause short term gum irritation. Because of the smaller amount of peroxide contents in the OTC white strips, it may take more applications and longer duration for each application to get the whiter smile you are looking for.

Take home whitening trays. The way these trays work is similar to that of the over the counter white strips with a few major differences. The biggest difference is the trays are custom fit to your mouth, therefore they are easier to apply and make less of a mess than the white strips. The other big difference is the concentration of peroxide, which can reach 35%. With a higher concentration of peroxide, it means less time needing to wear the trays and few overall applications. This whitening process comes at a little higher of a cost. The downsides to whitening trays are increased chance at sensitivity due to higher concentration of the peroxide as well as possible gum irritation.

In-Office bleaching. This is by far the fastest way to whiten your teeth. Usually a whitening appointment takes 1-2 hours in the dental chair where we apply a bleach composed of up to 45% peroxide to your teeth. Because of the high peroxide content this procedure needs to be done in-office so that we may apply a barrier between your teeth and gums to prevent soft tissue burns. With this barrier in place, it makes gum irritation minimal. This procedure can be done for those patients that need whiter teeth immediately, usually prior to a big event such as a wedding or anniversary.

Ultimately the decision to whiten your teeth is up to you. Whitening is a cosmetic procedure and so it’s up to you to decide which whitening (if any) is right for you!

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