Teeth Whitening

dental-teeth-whiteningThere are many different teeth whitening treatments and products available. Whitening systems can be done at home or at your dentist’s office. There are whitening toothpastes, rinses, gels and products that can be bought at your local department store. For greater results many people go through their dentist to obtain whitening strips, gels and other products. Teeth whitening is a safe cosmetic procedure that is ideal for those who have healthy teeth and gums. Those with a yellowish or brownish tone to their teeth respond best to treatment. Teeth whitening is not recommended for certain individuals including those who gum sensitivity and very worn teeth. People under the age of 16 should not whiten their teeth because the nerve endings in the teeth are enlarged until that age. Pregnant and lactating women should not bleach their teeth either. Those who suffer from gum disease, cavities and exposed roots should also avoid teeth whitening procedures. Those who have fillings and crowns should also avoid whitening procedures because it can result in uneven whitening and can damage the dental restorations.

Costs

The cost to whiten one’s teeth varies greatly. It depends on what method is chosen. Over the counter products, toothpastes and rinses are a fairly inexpensive way to whiten one’s teeth, but do not expect dramatic results. Teeth whitening strips are very common and can provide good results for a reasonable amount of money, but these products are not recommended to be used often. Getting your teeth whitened professionally by a dentist or as a cosmetic procedure will cost more, with many people paying upwards of $300.

The Procedure

If you are a candidate for whitening procedures you must decide which one you want and can afford to do. Those seeking a minor change in whitening will usually opt for cheaper at-home options including whitening strips and gels. Whitening peroxide based gels are applied with a small brush directly on the front surface of one’s teeth. Instructions usually ask that you apply the gel twice a day for 14 days in total. Whitening strips have come a long way in the past few years. They are very thin and build an adhesive to the front surface of the teeth. Whitening strips use peroxide to lighten teeth over a period of a few weeks. Results last approximately four to six months. Toothpastes and rinses can help to maintain your whitening for a longer period of time, while preventing future stains. Toothpastes help to remove surface stains using mild abrasives. Some whitening toothpaste use gentle chemical agents to help remove stains. Whitening rinses are a newer product that uses hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth. It may take up to three months to see results. Its effectiveness is not as powerful as many other whitening products. Tray-based whiteners can be obtained in a drugstore or from the dentist. They require a mouth tray that is filled with a gel whitening solution. This solution contains a peroxide bleaching agent which whitens the teeth. The tray is worn a few hours or more depending on the degree of discoloration. In-office whitening is the most effective and quickest way to get whiter teeth. In-office bleaching uses a whitening product that is put directly on the teeth. This chemical agent may be used with a special light, laser or heat. Results are seen within one treatment. The treatment generally takes 30 to 60 minutes. To achieve dramatically whiter teeth multiple appointments may be required. In-office whitening is the most expensive option.

It is important that you have realistic expectations about how white your teeth will appear. Usually your teeth will lighten up to three shades lighter than their current color. Those who have heavily stained teeth may require to use more treatments to successfully lighten. Those who have yellowish teeth respond the best to treatment.

Recovery

After the first few treatments you may notice significantly more sensitive gums and teeth. This is usually temporary, with treatment being paused until the sensitivity decreases. Many people will use toothpaste designed for those with sensitivity to help alleviate the pain. It is important to make sure you are not damaging your gums by whitening too often. If you notice whitening or red gums stop whitening process until the inflammation has subsided. You can also ask your pharmacist for a high fluoride product that can help to re-mineralize your teeth. Rarely at-home whitening options can cause swelling and infection of the gums but if you notice any symptoms contact your dentist. Following instructions carefully can help to prevent any discomfort or long term risks. Only use products that have the American Dental Association’s seal of approval.

Follow-up

It is important to follow teeth whitening instructions in order to get the desired results. The effects are not permanent, so touch-up treatments may be required. In order to prevent new stains, a whitening toothpaste and daily rinse can be used daily.