Everyone wants white shiny teeth. Often regular brushing is not enough to prevent the buildup of stains and discoloration. That is why teeth whitening is such a popular option. Years ago it was a procedure that was performed in a dentist’s office using an array of chemicals and cleaning equipment. Today, technological development means that there are a number of ways of whitening teeth. Some are still done by the dentist and others are things you can do yourself at home.
- Teeth whitening strips and gels are applied directly to the teeth with a brush or using a thin strip that is part of the packaging. These products are usually peroxide based and work by bleaching the teeth. They typically have to be applied twice a day for about two weeks for best results. The process usually has to be repeated every four or five months.
- With tray based teeth whitening systems a tray similar to a mouth guard used for sports is filled with the bleaching agent and placed over the teeth for several hours a day for a few weeks. The trays are available over the counter but a better option is to have one custom fitted by a dentist. A custom fitted tray will ensure that the right amount of the whitening agent is used and that the teeth are exposed to the agent in a controlled and uniform manner. Custom fitted trays can be made to be as inconspicuous as possible.
- Whitening toothpastes are used like ordinary toothpastes. All pastes have a mild abrasive action that helps to get stains off the teeth. Whitening toothpastes usually have extra chemicals or polishing agents in them to enhance the stain removal. These pastes are less effective than other over the counter options and can typically whiten teeth by about one shade but not more than that.
- The best and most effective method of whitening teeth is done in the dentist’s office using a laser. This offers the maximum whitening and produces instant results. It is possible to achieve significant whitening in about an hour and there is no risk of the structure of the teeth being affected.
Keeping Teeth White
Once teeth have been whitened, it is important to maintain the results with proper oral hygiene and the avoidance of foods and beverages that stain the teeth. Your dentist will be able to answer any questions on oral care and the foods that can discolor your teeth.
The number of over the counter teeth whitening kits available make it seem like the process is a simple one. In many ways it is, but there could be complications involved. In some cases using these kits could even lead to tooth or gum damage. It is always advisable to consult a dentist before trying any tooth whitening procedures. If you get the go ahead to try an over the counter option, you can ask for a recommendation on which brand to use. And if you are advised that an in clinic whitening treatment will produce better results, you will have saved the money spent on the kit and the frustration of the bad results.