Tooth Whitening Options
There are numerous whitening products on the market and it can be confusing on what to use, what works, and how they work. If you have been in the dental aisle of your local drug store recently you have seen the overwhelming number of choices that are available over the counter and this does not even begin to include what is available in your dentist’s office. There are two ways that you can “whiten” a tooth. The first is by removing the deep stains which is done by products that contain peroxides. The second way is removing the surface stains which can be achieved by chemical and/or physical agents. Before you begin any whitening process you should speak with your dentist. Not all products will work for all types of discoloration. Cavities, fillings, crowns, etc. will not “whiten” and many people are unaware where these things exist in their mouths.
In general, all toothpastes help remove some of the stains that we expose our teeth to on a regular basis. However, whitening toothpastes have additional polishing and chemical agents that help make them more effective stain removers. These toothpastes are great at removing surface stains, but they do not change the actual color of your teeth. Be aware that using these products can cause your teeth to be more sensitive to cold.
Over-the-counter Bleaching Products
There are several over-the-counter whitening products on the market. These products are great at brightening your smile but they do not create drastic changes. The concentration of whitening agent in this type of product is usually less than you will find in products you receive from a dental professional. As with any whitening product, you should see your dentist or hygienist first for a full exam to be sure there are not underlying causes for the stains on your teeth and for recommendations on the best product for your teeth. Tooth sensitivity is the most commonly seen side effect but you may also notice irritation of the soft tissues both of which are usually temporary.
Professionally Applied Products and Dentist Dispensed Products
The products in this category usually contain a higher concentration of whitening solution so that you get a faster more dramatic change in color. This can be accomplished with custom trays that you wear at home or an office visit where the whitening agent is applied in the office for a prescribed length of time. With the trays the whitening is completed over a 2-4 week time period and with the office visit application the whitening process is completed in about 1 hour. As with any whitening process, you may experience increased sensitivity to cold that is usually temporary.
If you are looking for a way to improve your smile, whitening is a safe and effective way. Be sure to have an exam by your dentist or hygienist to discuss what product may be the best for your teeth and your desired results.