A Look at the Diverse Options Available for a Whiter, Brighter Smile
Our teeth are one of the first things other people notice during face-to-face interactions, so it’s no surprise that we dream of having pearly-white teeth. Stained teeth are often a source of embarrassment, even though they are a part of life. Teeth turn yellow as we age, and can become stained from food, drink, and other habits. There are even deep stains caused by exposure to trauma and certain chemicals during tooth development. There are, thankfully, many teeth whitening options available that can help you achieve a whiter, brighter smile!
The best time for treatment is after a dental cleaning, since it removes surface stains and plaque that could get in the way of a successful whitening treatment. Talk to your dentist about the following options to help you decide which treatment is best for you.
Many dentists offer a take-home teeth-whitening system so you can whiten your teeth at your own convenience. With the take-home treatment, your dentist will take impressions of your teeth and create a custom-fitting teeth-whitening tray. Along with this tray, your dentist will give you bleaching gel—or the tray will come with the gel already inside—a desensitizer to help your gums, and instructions for use at home. Typically, the take-home treatment involves injecting the gel into the tray with a syringe and wearing the tray for a few hours each day. This home treatment will usually take a week or two to complete depending on your dentist’s instructions.
Although the take-home treatment takes a week or two to get the desired final results, these results usually last longer than other types of treatments. This treatment method is also more effective at bleaching hard-to-remove stains. Instead of a one-time whitening, the daily use of this whitening system results in an enhanced whitening effect. Each day that the bleach gel is applied, a stronger, deeper whitening occurs.
Some dentists offer in-office whitening treatments that may only take one visit to complete. This is usually the most expensive type of whitening treatment, however, it can provide immediate results since it uses a high concentration of bleaching gel. With these treatments, the dentist will:
- Apply a base-layer of protective gel to the gums;
- Apply bleach—concentrated hydrogen peroxide—to the eight front teeth; and,
- Shine a specific light on the bleach to speed up and enhance the whitening treatment.
The in-office treatment usually only takes an hour, and can provide immediate results with teeth that are up to 10 shades whiter. However, this is not a permanent treatment, so your teeth will inevitably be prone to staining soon after. To maintain white teeth, dentists will often pair this treatment with a take-home teeth whitening system.
Some factors will also affect the results of this treatment, such as age, heredity, and the type of stains on your teeth. While this treatment is effective for removing organic stains—i.e. from aging, foods, drinks, and smoking—there are certain inorganic stains that may not be removed from this treatment—such as stains from trauma, tetracycline antibiotics, or overexposure to fluoride. Your dentist may recommend either another in-office treatment, or a combination of an in-office and a take-home treatment to remove the difficult stains.
Over-the-counter teeth whitening products are an easy and affordable option. You can find them at your local grocery store and pharmacy, and whiten your teeth at your own convenience. These products include:
- Whitening toothpastes,
- Teeth whitening strips,
- Paint-on tooth gel,
- Mouth trays with gel,
- Whitening brushes, and
- Whitening pens.
Compared to professional whitening treatments from your dentist, the over-the-counter products take longer to achieve results. The results are also not as impressive since these products contain a lower concentration of bleach compared to dental office treatments.
Tips for Tooth Care
No matter what type of treatment you opt for, there are certain steps you can take to keep your teeth whiter for longer and to help treat tooth sensitivity. Try to follow this tips after treatment:
- Floss and brush teeth regularly to remove new stains;
- Brush with sensitivity toothpaste to relieve pain;
- Take a break from whitening treatments;
- Quit smoking;
- Avoid stain-causing foods and drinks—coffee, tea, wine, bright-coloured sports drinks, berries, tomatoes, and hard candy;
- Use a straw if you must drink these stain-causing drinks; and,
- Make regular visits to your dentist for a cleaning and checkup.
For help with deciding which option is best for you, go over the following details with your dentist: your budget, level of tooth sensitivity, type of stains (organic vs. inorganic), and desired time-frame. Your dentist will recommend a treatment option that is best for you and your teeth so you can get that pearly-white smile you’ve been wishing for.