It is essential that anyone thinking of having their teeth whitened, or who is considering using an over-the-counter kit should visit their dentist first for a full check-up. This is because these products may damage unhealthy teeth and gums, and are likely to be uncomfortable, or even painful to use due to the increased levels of sensitivity.
Using whitening toothpaste is the easiest way to brighten up a smile. These contain chemicals or mild abrasives to help remove surface stains. They don’t contain any bleach, and will only brighten teeth very slightly. However they are generally very safe to use, and can even be purchased in formulas suitable for sensitive teeth.
Whitening Mouth Rinses
These typically contain small amounts of bleach, as well as other agents designed to reduce plaque and freshen up breath. They need to be used regularly, and the results are unlikely to be dramatic as they don’t remain in contact with the teeth for very long.
Whitening Gels and Strips
These can be purchased from the drug store, and many people find them very effective. The strips are coated in a peroxide gel, and are generally applied twice a day over the course of two weeks.
Tray-based Whitening Systems
These can be purchased from a drug store, or the trays can be custom made by a dentist. Both are used in conjunction peroxide-basede based gel. The trays have to be left in the mouth for a certain amount of time, which may be an hour, or even overnight. This results in the teeth being whitened slowly over a period of several weeks. The advantage of this type of system is that the results are more easily controlled, and it may be better for people with sensitive teeth than whitening them more quickly with stronger bleaching gels. People with sensitive teeth, or those who have not whitened before, may wish to start off with a weaker concentration of bleaching agent to minimize any possible side effects, before moving onto something a little stronger.
This is the fastest and most effective way of whitening teeth, and is performed in the dental office or in a dental spa. The process only takes around an hour to complete, but can lighten teeth by several shades. It is perfect for anyone who wants results quickly, but is the most expensive way of bleaching. The bleaching gels used are quite strong, and the effect is enhanced with a special light that activates the bleach, enabling it to penetrate the teeth more fully.
Teeth Whitening Isn’t Suitable for Everyone
There is little doubt that teeth whitening is a great cosmetic dental treatment, but it isn’t right for everyone. It isn’t recommended for children under the age of sixteen, or for pregnant women. Some people may find their teeth too sensitive to tolerate bleach, although some teeth whitening systems offered by dentists may be able to overcome this as they whiten teeth over a period of two or more months rather than a couple of weeks. Ordinary teeth whitening treatments will only work on live teeth. If a tooth is discolored through having root canal therapy then it may need to be internally bleached by a dentist or lightened using some alternative method such as veneering or crowning.
Teeth whitening won’t lighten existing dental restorations, as it cannot bleach porcelain. Anyone with existing crowns and bridges may need to budget for replacements in order to get an even, white smile. In these cases it is best to have the teeth whitened first so that the new restorations can be accurately matched to the new tooth color.
In any case, it is important to have realistic expectations as results can vary. Over-using products won’t necessarily make teeth any whiter, and could result in all the color being bleached out, leaving them grey in appearance. But when done correctly, teeth whitening can give fantastic results, and can be a huge boost to confidence.