Teeth whitening procedure in the dental office

What Are the Best Instant Teeth Whitening Options?

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

Teeth whitening technology is faster safer, and more effective than it used to be in the past. There is a wide variety of whitening options available in retail stores. If you have a special occasion coming up, learn more about the nearly-instant whitening treatments available at your dental clinic as well as over-the-counter options you can use any time.

Instant Teeth Whitening Treatments With Your Dentist

Professional whitening treatments are the real deal. Your dentist can prescribe a whitening treatment specific to your teeth, including creating an imprint of your teeth for a custom whitening tray or an in-office whitening treatment. An in-office whitening treatment typically takes more than one visit. The average bleaching procedure takes about 40 minutes, according to this human article, requiring a lot less time investment on your part. Your dentist may use light- or laser-activated teeth bleaching, which takes only around one hour.

Once you've got teeth whitening from your dentist, you may try an at-home, over-the-counter product for maintaining your sparkling smile. In-office whitening methods tend to be faster and more effective than what you can buy in stores. Here is how in-office treatments typically work:

  • Your dentist applies a gel to your gums to protect them from the bleaching agent.
  • Then, they use a bleaching agent – concentrated hydrogen peroxide – on your eight front teeth.
  • Then, your dentist shines a special light on your teeth to enhance its whitening effect.
  • Within one hour, your teeth can appear several shades brighter.

How Teeth Whitening Toothpaste Works

Whitening toothpaste is a good option for safely whitening your teeth while maintaining your regular oral care routine. Whitening toothpaste is formulated with a low percentage of hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth. These over-the-counter toothpaste types typically take four weeks of daily use to see a noticeable difference in shade. Whitening toothpaste can maintain in-office whitening treatments and protect against cavities, just like other toothpaste types.

Portable Teeth Whitening Systems You Can Use at Home

You have probably seen teeth whitening strips, paint-on teeth whitening gel, whitening toothpaste, brushes, trays, and pens on the shelves at pharmacies. These products are often affordable and easy to do in the evenings at home. While they may not be as effective or as fast as whitening treatments with your dentist, they can noticeably whiten your teeth.

How to Use Portable Toothbrushes for Surface Stains

There are even teeth-whitening products you can carry with you on-the-go! Portable toothbrushes are small and don't require water or rinsing so that you can use them anywhere. These brushes can take care of surface stains before they set in, such as after eating or drinking berries, red wine or coffee.

Using At-Home Whitening Kits

You can also ask your dentist for an at-home gel treatment. At-home treatments may take longer than the immediate in-office treatments, but they are more convenient and comfortable. For this treatment, your dentist sends you home with a tray that is filled with whitening gel. You wear this tray for a set period in the evenings, like while watching TV or reading. You may have to wear these trays for two to four weeks, depending on your dentist's recommendations. These trays are typically prescription-strength whitening and can have fantastic results.

There are over-the-counter whitening gel trays available in shops too. Keep in mind that these are not prescription-strength whitening, but you can see results over time. The problem with take-home kits, though, is patient compliance. You are required to do it consecutively, every day for 7 to 10 days. If you miss a day, you would have to start the process all over again.

Portable Whitening Pens

Whitening pens are becoming a new, accessible and portable method for teeth whitening. Just like toothbrushes, whitening pens can easily travel. Whitening pens contain hydrogen peroxide gel you brush on after brushing. The gel dries quickly and can be applied anywhere, so there's no need to wait for a free evening at home like using the gel trays.

Other Teeth Whitening Tips

Here are some tips that will help to make teeth whitening work much faster and better for you:

  • Keep up with dental appointments to ensure your teeth and gums are healthy
  • Remember that teeth whitening solutions will not whiten crowns or fillings
  • Avoid staining foods and drinks like berries, coffee, red wine and tea during and after the whitening treatment
  • Avoid tobacco products

While there are several teeth whitening options available, your dentist will know which whitening option is best. Ask your dentist for recommendations if you need an at-home, affordable option.