Whether you're a heavy smoker, you drink three cups of coffee each day or you've simply noticed that your teeth are becoming faded and yellow with age, you may be wondering how to regain the bright white smile you once had. While there are several whitening methods available, whitening trays are popular options that can create noticeable improvements for people of all ages. Keep reading to learn exactly how whitening trays work and what facts you should know if you plan on using them.
How Do Teeth Whitening Trays Work?
A teeth whitening tray system consists of trays that you place over your teeth, much like you would a mouth guard, along with a whitening gel that fights surface stains as well as deeper stains. There are various types of tray whitening systems, from those that are only applied at a dentist's office to those that are completely administered at home, along with several varieties that require both office visits and home applications.
All of these systems involve placing a whitening gel or solution in the trays and fitting the trays over your teeth for anywhere from under an hour to overnight. This procedure typically needs to be repeated a few times before teeth become noticeably whiter. An in-office teeth whitening tray application may require you to schedule several dentist visits, while an at-home system may be used once or twice each day for one to two weeks, depending on the individual product instructions and recommendations.
Do You Need to Visit a Dentist?
While some people use whitening gels with over-the-counter trays, it's preferable to visit your dentist and ask him to create customized trays for you. Customized trays will fit much more securely and comfortably than over-the-counter trays, which are intended to fit people with a wide range of mouth sizes, and are therefore likely to run large. If you purchase trays that are too big, they may not be tight enough to keep the gel close to your teeth, potentially making the whitening process less effective.
There's another reason to purchase customized whitening trays. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), teeth whitening trays can also cause gum irritation. This type of irritation can result from having a tray that doesn't fit correctly over your teeth. Instead of risking any pain or irritation, visit your dentist to receive a customized, professionally molded tray that gives you the most comfortable fit possible.
What are the Possible Complications?
If you receive a custom mouthpiece from your dentist, you can cut back on the chances of gum irritation, but there's still the possibility that you'll experience some tooth sensitivity. Experts believe the peroxide content in the whitening substances causes certain people to experience this sensitivity. If you feel pain at any time, your dentist may recommend that you wear the trays for shorter periods of time or stop using them for a couple of days before resuming whitening treatment.