Plenty of people want a whiter smile. There is a range of options available when it comes to whitening your teeth. Some methods are more effective than others, and some don’t work at all on certain types of teeth.
If you are considering bleaching or whitening your teeth, discussing the pros and cons of each method with a dental specialist first will help you make the choice that’s best for you.
At Home Picks
If you venture down your local drugstore’s oral-care aisle, you’ll most likely see a wide selection of products that promise to whiten your teeth, from toothpaste and mouthwash to whitening strips. Some of these at-home products work better than others. For example, whitening toothpastes are able to scrub away surface stains from your tooth’s enamel. As far as whitening goes, though, toothpastes often contain hydrogen peroxide, a mild bleaching ingredient. At the most, using a whitening toothpaste will get your teeth a single shade lighter.
Whitening strips or gels offer a somewhat more effective over-the-counter whitening option. The gel or strips contain hydrogen peroxide. Unlike the whitening toothpaste, the product stays on your teeth for longer, so the bleaching agent has more of a chance to work. For example, if you use whitening strips, you typically wear them for a period of two weeks, for 30 minutes twice a day. If you use a gel, you paint it on the teeth twice a day for two weeks.
You can also find teeth whitening trays over-the-counter. The tray is typically made of foam and designed to fit over the top and bottom rows of teeth. To use it, you fill the foam tray with a peroxide solution, then place it over your teeth. You’ll have to wear the tray for a few hours at a time, or overnight, for best results. Over-the-counter whitening trays aren’t available in custom sizes, so there is a chance that the tray you choose will be either too large or small for your mouth.
A tray that doesn’t fit well can be uncomfortable to wear. It can also be a less effective way to bleach your teeth, as the peroxide solution can leak out or you might wear the tray for less time because of the poor fit.
A number of teeth whitening options are available from your dentist. In many cases, in-office whitening treatments are more effective than at-home ones. They also give the dentist the chance to examine your mouth closely, making sure you are free of gum disease and that your teeth are in good condition, without cavities.
Another benefit of seeing a dentist for whitening is that the process takes less time. Depending on the type of treatment, your teeth can be made several shades lighter in just an hour. One option involves covering the gums and lips with a protective shield, then painting the teeth with a bleaching gel. A light or heat source is directed at the teeth, which activates the bleaching agent.
In some cases, a treatment that whitens teeth can be performed both at the dentist’s office and at home. For example, you might go to the dentist to have an impression made of your mouth. The dentist will create a custom-fitted foam tray from the impression. A better fitting tray can mean better whitening results and less irritation, as the whitening agent is less likely to leak from the tray.
Duration of Results
How long your whiter smile lasts depends on the treatment option you choose. Typically, in office treatments last the longest, giving you results for a year or longer. The results from teeth whitening strips or gels often last for just a few months at the most.
You can try to prolong the results of your whitening procedure by watching what you eat and drink closely. For example, some foods and beverages, such as wine and coffee, are more likely to stain your teeth than others. Brushing your teeth regularly will help sweep away surface stains, preserving your whiter smile.
Seeing a dentist to get your teeth whitened doesn’t only mean longer lasting results. It can also mean more natural looking results, as the dentist can use a shade guide to help you pick the color of white that best suits your complexion.
If you are considering whitening your teeth, talk to your dentist first. Scheduling an appointment with a periodontal specialist can give you the peace of mind that your teeth and gums are in good enough shape for a whitening treatment. Call (305) 447-1447 today to schedule an appointment at the Miami practice of Drs. Gallardo and Lamas.