Everybody loves a bright white smile, and there are a variety of products and procedures available to help you improve the look of yours.
Many people are satisfied with the sparkle they get from brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, flossing once a day, and regular cleanings at the dentist's office. However, if you decide you would like to go beyond regular care to make your smile look brighter, you should investigate all of your options.
Finding the Best Treatment for You
Schedule a visit with your dentist to learn whether whitening procedures would be effective for you. Whiteners do not correct all types of discoloration. For example, yellowish teeth will probably bleach well, brownish teeth may bleach less effectively, and grayish teeth may require extended bleaching time or other esthetic dentistry treatment options. Likewise, whitening may not enhance your smile if you have had tooth-colored fillings or crowns. The whitener will not affect the color of these materials and they will stand out in your newly whitened smile. In these cases, you do have other options, such as porcelain veneers.
Tooth Whitening Treatments
- Professional teeth whitening with your dentist
- At-home whitening system
- Whitening toothpaste
When selecting a whitener or any dental product, be sure to look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance - your assurance that a product has met ADA standards of safety and effectiveness.
Professional Teeth Whitening (ZOOM!®)
Professional teeth whitening by your dentist is your best choice when you need immediate whitening results. This procedure is called chair-side bleaching and may require more than one office visit. Each visit may take from sixty to ninety minutes.
During chairside bleaching, the dentist will apply a protective barrier to the gums. A bleaching agent is then applied to the teeth and a special light may be used to enhance the action of the agent.
At-Home Whitening System
There are several types of products available for use at home, which can either be dispensed by your dentist or purchased over the counter. They are generally teeth whitening trays (mouthguards), strips, or paint-on products.
Teeth Whitening Trays
These products contain peroxide(s), which actually bleach the tooth enamel. Carbamide peroxide is the bleaching agent and comes in several different concentrations. Peroxide-containing whiteners typically come in a gel and are placed in a mouthguard. Usage regimens vary. Some products are used twice a day for 2 weeks, while others are intended for overnight use for 1-2 weeks. If you obtain the bleaching solution from your dentist's office, they can make a custom-fitted mouthguard for you that will fit your teeth precisely.
Teeth whitening can have minor side effects and you should speak with your dentist if these become bothersome. For example, teeth can become sensitive during the period when you are using the bleaching solution. In most cases, this sensitivity is temporary and should lessen once the treatment is finished. Some people also experience soft-tissue irritation, either from a tray that doesn't fit properly or from solution that may come in contact with the tissues. If you have concerns about such side effects, you should discuss them with the dentist.