There are many products and techniques available for patients who want to achieve a whiter, brighter smile. With so many options available, it can be difficult to choose the method that is right for you. The best way to begin any teeth whitening regimen is to schedule an appointment to talk to your doctor about different options and what may work best for you.
What causes tooth discoloration?
Tooth discoloration is usually the effect of exposure to staining agents. Like a new white t-shirt, the more staining agents in the environment, the more teeth will discolor over time. Other, less common causes of tooth discoloration include: genetics, aging, tooth malformation, smoking, and poor oral hygiene.
My teeth are not as white as I’d like them to be. Am I a good candidate for a teeth whitening procedure?
If you’re interested in having a whiter smile, talk to your doctor during your next office visit to learn more about your options. While most patients are good candidates for tooth whitening, it is important to have the doctor evaluate your teeth, discuss whitening options with you, and answer any questions you may have.
I have sensitive teeth. Can I still have my teeth professionally whitened?
If you have sensitive teeth, it should be discussed with the doctor when considering different teeth whitening options. In general, patients with sensitive teeth are still candidates for teeth whitening. However, considerations must be made to minimize discomfort and achieve results. One of the benefits of professional whitening is that whitening gel concentration and instructions for use can be customized based on your individual needs. In less common, more severe cases of tooth sensitivity, patients may be discouraged from whitening their teeth.
Professional vs Consumer Teeth Whitening
As the name implies, professional whitening involves the use of professional strength whitening gels that are more concentrated and effective than consumer strength whitening agents. The whitening gels work by removing internal discolorations and stains from teeth.
Professional (customized tray) Whitening
For patients that desire fast and effective teeth whitening results, tray whitening is an excellent option. The approach is personalized for each individual using custom-made whitening trays and concentrated whitening gel only available through your dentist. There are a variety of different whitening gel concentrations that can be selected from based on each individual's unique needs and desires. The gel is placed in custom-fitted trays that fit perfectly over your teeth - this leads to less mess and greater comfort. At-home professional tray whitening generally takes 10-14 days, although you may notice results in as little as three to five days.
Consumer (over-the-counter) Whitening:
There are numerous teeth whitening products available in the consumer marketplace. While the approaches vary, consumer strength teeth whitening gel options all involve "one-size-fits-all" delivery devices containing whitening agents that are less concentrated and less effective than professional options. The most common consumer teeth whitening approaches are: teeth whitening strips, paint-on whiteners, and whitening toothpaste.
The least expensive consumer whitening option is whitening toothpaste. Unlike whitening gels, whitening toothpastes use abrasives to try to remove surface stains. While whitening toothpastes can mildly lighten your teeth, the frequent use of abrasives may remove natural tooth structure and cause tooth sensitivity. Due to the abrasive nature of whitening toothpastes, most dental health professionals recommend whitening gels rather than abrasive whitening toothpastes for patients that desire whiter teeth.
If you would like to learn more about teeth whitening, please contact our practice to schedule an appointment.