Everyone desires white teeth for a pleasing and attractive smile, but which teeth whitening kits are right for you? According to the American Dental Association (ADA), wanting whiter teeth is the number one request dentists hear from their patients. However, with all the products being marketed, it's often difficult to know which whitening process to use. The first step should be to seek the advice of your dentist or dental hygienist, who are uniquely qualified to explain and recommend the right product and technique based on your teeth and dental history. When choosing a safe and effective teeth whitening method - whether over-the-counter or a dental office dispensed version – the ones recommended by your dental office should be your only choice.
Dazzling to Dull
White teeth or the natural shade that you remember from your younger years, can darken or yellow over time. Most importantly, to maintain a dazzling smile, you need good home care and regular dental visits. Flossing daily and brushing with a whitening toothpaste that contains peroxide and/or baking soda, can help you keep your teeth looking their whitest by helping to remove plaque and surface stains. Lifestyle factors can cause staining to occur intrinsically or into the deeper layers of the tooth. These can include side effects from medications and medical treatments, as well as from tobacco use.
Also any trauma, like bumping or dislodging a tooth can cause a tooth to darken over time. Of course, some of your favorite beverages, like coffee and red wine, will dull and darken your smile by penetrating the enamel over time. Teeth can also darken without any external factors, simply just from aging. As you age, the enamel layer covering the tooth can become thinner allowing the darker layer underneath, the dentin, to become more prominent. Whitening treatment will depend on the existing shade of the teeth and the contributing factors and the final shade that the patient desires.
What are the options for a whiter smile? Based on your dentist's advice, it will entail either an office dispensed whitening kit, an in-office procedure or an over-the-counter product, all of which are easy processes. The active ingredient is either hydrogen or carbamide peroxide that can range from 10 to 22 percent in strength. Typically, the simple case that desires only a few shades lighter can be achieved with a product available at a drug or discount store and done at home. These can include strips, pastes or gels and the amount of bleach concentration is usually 10 percent or less, as the ADA recommends.
In-office procedures can be done in as little as five minutes or up to an hour, depending on the process. Perhaps the most common and effective treatment is having custom trays made from an impression of your teeth at your dental office. Then you bleach at home with a high concentration bleach material dispensed by your dentist, who will closely monitor you during the process. There can be some temporary sensitivity in the teeth while bleaching and your dentist or dental hygienist can make suggestions to reduce this side effect.
After You Bleach
Once bleaching is complete, you can maintain your sparkling smile by touching up at home with strips or your trays, usually every six to 12 months. Again, your dentist should dictate how long to do it, as over-bleaching can harm your enamel and gums. Additionally, after you're done bleaching, using a whitening toothpaste like Colgate® Optic White® will help whiten your teeth and is safe for daily use. Your dentist can advise you if or when it's best to rewhiten after treatment.
Tooth whitening or bleaching has become the most popular aesthetic dental treatment requested. It's also the most cost effective way to improve your smile, but it's not always risk-free. Teeth whitening kits vary and offer effective results when used properly. The single most important step to getting and maintaining dazzling teeth is to consult your dentist, who will know the best choice for your smile!