Choosing the Best Teeth Whitening Method for You
Modern dentistry has seen many improvements including cosmetic treatments to improve the look of your smile. One of the most popular requests for cosmetic improvements is teeth whitening. There are many options available, whether you have mild staining which can be addressed with whitening treatments, or your staining is severe and you require something more permanent such as veneers. Here is an overview of the treatments available from over the counter home treatments to cosmetic dental treatments we offer at the office.
How Teeth Whitening Works
Although there are different teeth whitening methods available, they all have one thing in common: each one uses a whitening agent to penetrate your tooth enamel to remove the molecules that are causing the discolouration. The stains are in the dentin and therefore the whitening process has to reach below the enamel to extract the discolouration. The stains are usually caused by the following:
- Beverages such as coffee, tea, red wine, and dark sodas
- Dark vegetables
The Benefits of Whitening
It’s obvious that whiter teeth are more appealing when you smile. However, there are other benefits, including:
- You will want to smile more which is proven to help improve your mood
- Increased confidence
- A better first impression
- More people smiling at you because you are smiling more
- A more youthful appearance
- The confidence to pursue success in your career
- Better selfies
- An increased interest in dental hygiene to preserve your whiter smile
Not everyone has a dental plan that will cover cosmetic dentistry. If you are considering teeth whitening it is important to consider your budget. You can speak to your dentist to get an idea of how severe your staining is, to see if you can start by trying over the counter methods if cost is an issue. If your budget is not an issue, then you can get an estimate from our team and they will even submit the request to your insurance company to see if it is covered.
Over the Counter Whitening
Over the counter (OTC) simply means you can purchase the whitening products at your local drug store. They range from toothpastes to trays and strips that allow you to whiten your teeth at home. Here is an overview of the OTC products available:
- Whitening Toothpaste: This is the easiest and least expensive method, but is not effective for deeper, darker stains. It’s ideal for maintaining a white smile and can also help to brighten mild discolourations.
- Paint-on Teeth Whitening: As the name implies, this is a whitening agent usually in gel form that is applied using a brush. It is less expensive than strips or trays but is also not as effective. It can also be difficult to apply evenly which can lead to striping and an uneven look to your teeth. It has a more dramatic effect than toothpaste but has to be applied carefully to avoid uneven colouring.
- Whitening Strips: This is the most popular OTC whitening method. It uses a small amount of hydrogen peroxide applied to strips that you place over your teeth for 30 minutes. It gets good results relatively quickly and can be done as part of your regular morning or bedtime routine. Again, consistency can be a problem if you are not applying the strips evenly.
- One-Size Whitening Trays: Whitening trays often come in kits and contain the whitening agent. They are placed over your teeth for a period of time like strips and can get dramatic results. However, because the trays are generic in size and shape you can again run into consistency issues with the whitening.
Dental Office Options
Our office can also assist with professional whitening services. Dental office whitening treatments also use sensitivity products to help reduce the sensitivity many people have after whitening. Here are some of the most common whitening treatments available at dental offices:
- Customized Whitening Trays: Customized whitening trays offer a more effective and precise whitening system as the trays are customized to fit your teeth and mouth perfectly. This allows for a more even application. The trays are also used at home, so treatment is convenient. As well, professional whitening agents contain more of the active ingredients required to remove stains. The peroxide-based compound provides far more dramatic results than any OTC product.
- Zoom: This whitening procedure takes longer and is performed at the dental office. Each session can be as long as an hour and the number of sessions required depends on the severity of your staining. The system uses a whitening gel in hand with a “lamp” which speeds up the gel’s whitening effects. After the session, a sensitivity-reducing treatment is applied.
- Composite Veneers: This cosmetic treatment is used only in cases when the stains are so severe, “bleaching” will not work. Veneers provide a “cover” for the fronts of your teeth. The veneers are customized to match the look of your teeth and uses a colour that looks natural suiting the brightness you desire. They can also be used to hide other imperfections, so they can kill two birds with one stone.
When Whitening is NOT Advised
Not everyone should consider whitening using bleaching methods. There are a number of reasons the treatments should not be used, including:
- Sensitivity: If you suffer from sensitivity the agents used tend to worsen this issue.
- Deep Stains: If your staining is too deep, they will be resistant to whitening agents. In this case, we will recommend veneers.
- Aging: Some older patients might have the same issues as those with deep stains and veneers will be recommended instead of whitening agents.
- Dental Work: If you have dental work, the whitening process will not work. You can choose veneers to replace your dental work to brighten your smile.
- Pregnancy: Whitening should wait until your baby is born and you have finished breastfeeding.
- Over-Whitening: If you have been over-whitening your teeth it can cause enamel erosion. If you feel your teeth are not white enough despite several whitening treatments at home or at the office, we will discuss your options.
Maintaining your White Smile
Once you’ve achieved the level of whiteness you wanted, you can follow some basics to keep your smile white, including:
- Avoid the food and drink that will stain your teeth
- Brush and floss regularly
- Use a toothpaste with whitening agents
- Book your regular dental checkups and cleanings
If you are interested in learning more about our dental office whitening treatments, click here or call us at 888-602-2308 to book a free consultation.