Millions of people suffer from tooth discoloration to varying degrees. Even those who brush, floss, and visit the dentist regularly may find that food, environmental factors, and the passage of time will eventually take their toll on the natural radiance of their teeth. Fortunately, professional teeth whitening is an incredibly effective way to lighten or altogether eliminate stains and achieve a naturally white smile. There are many teeth whitening systems and products including whitening toothpastes, over-the-counter gels, rinses, strips, trays, and whitening products obtained from a dentist.
Find out if teeth whitening is right for you.
Teeth whitening is ideal for people who have healthy teeth and gums. Individuals with yellow tones to their teeth respond best. But this cosmetic procedure is not recommended for everyone. Results vary depending on your dental health and the treatment you choose. However, the vast majority of patients have been satisfied with the outcome of their whitening treatment. Side effects are rare and mild, and the treatment is convenient and non-invasive. Following a professional whitening regimen, you could enjoy a dramatically improved smile and a huge boost of self-confidence. Candidates for teeth whitening typically have mild to moderate discoloration, and they want to achieve a sparkling smile. However, there are certain factors that may preclude patients from being good candidates for treatment.
- Patients with restorations on the front facing teeth (such as porcelain veneers, dental crowns, or dental bonding): Unlike natural teeth, restorative material does not respond to bleaching agents. Typically, if these patients do choose teeth whitening, they will also need replace their restorations. The new crowns or veneers will match the enhanced color of their smile.
- Patients with intrinsic stains: Intrinsic stains are gray discolorations, white spots on the teeth, or discoloration that results from a “dead” tooth. These stains affect the underlying layers of the tooth. In general, teeth whitening is most effective on extrinsic stains (the yellow or brown stains) that affect the outer enamel.
- Patients with extreme tooth sensitivity or worn enamel: Whitening may exacerbate these conditions.
When you are looking to lighten your smile, you have many options to choose from. Over-the-Counter Methods – This the cheapest form of whitening. These methods can include:
- Toothpastes: These products strictly whiten and will not bleach your teeth. Whitening toothpastes have a mildly abrasive effect, and some can lighten teeth by up to one shade.
- Gel: Whitening gel can offer comparable results to strips. The exact treatment regimen will depend on the type and strength of gel you choose.
- Rinses: Whitening mouthwash contains small amounts of peroxide. You will use these rinses just as you would use a traditional anti-bacterial mouthwash. Many experts believe that whitening rinses are not as effective as other methods, since the peroxide is only in contact with your teeth for about 60 seconds.
- Pre-made whitening trays: Store bought whitening trays often fit uncomfortably. Because they are not customized for your smile, the gel may ooze out and irritate your gum tissue. Dental professionals recommend dentist-provided trays instead.
- Strips: Whitening strips are thin pieces of plastic coated in peroxide. You will attach the strips to the front of your teeth, and you will wear them about 30 minutes a day for two weeks. The results typically last around four months. Most experts and consumers agree that whitening strips are the most effective form of do-it-yourself whitening.
- Dentist-prescribed whitening, such as Opalescence®, offers much more dramatic results than over-the-counter products and is an excellent investment in your smile. If you choose this method, you will receive custom-made whitening trays. They will fit comfortably in your mouth, and you will fill them with whitening gel. This gel will use a lower concentration of peroxide than in-office treatment. Therefore, the procedure will pose little risk for gum sensitivity, even without complete dentist supervision. You will wear the trays for 30 minutes to an hour every day,
- In-Office Whitening– Although take-home whitening is quite effective, in-office care usually offers a less expensive alternative. We use Sinsational Smile® and a laser light to achieve optimal results. The high-power light will activate the gel, allowing the oxygen to penetrate your teeth more thoroughly. The whole process takes less than an hour and is combined with a take-home pen to apply at home for longer lasting results. Sinsational Smile® is recommended for patients who have had sensitivity to stronger bleaching products and produces and less ‘dramatic’ result.
Just as every patient’s smile is unique, the results of teeth whitening treatment will vary. Although most patients are pleased with the results, they are not 100 percent predictable. There are several factors which contribute to the overall outcome of teeth whitening treatment. The final color of a patient’s smile will depend on several factors.
- The severity of the stains
- The level of the tooth the stains reside on
- Lifestyle and dietary habits
- The type of teeth whitening system used
- The number of treatments a patient undergoes
- Whether the patient wears whitening trays as directed (in cases of at-home teeth whitening)
Additionally, whitening is not permanent – if you smoke, drink tea, coffee, red wine, etc., you will need to ‘touch-up’ occasionally. Touch-up kits can be purchased from our office. So…if you would like a whiter, brighter smile, call Smile Sarasota today!
Credits: The Doc Shop, WebMD