Many foods and beverages are known to stain your teeth. You may have noticed your smile isn't as bright as it used to be. If you're interested in trying a teeth whitening product or treatment but don't know where to start, you can start here. Learn about the differences among the different whitening products, why teeth whitening at the dentist's office is so effective, and how to choose the best product for you.
How to Choose a Teeth Whitening System
Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications
Professional Teeth Whitening
A professional treatment typically achieves the fastest and most effective whitening at the dental office. In-office whitening treatments contain whitening agents in higher concentrations than over-the-counter products. In fact, many people can notice visibly brighter teeth in one visit. However, many other people may need up to three visits to complete treatment.
Most dental offices offer professional whitening services, including in-office treatments and take-home products. You will need an examination to determine whether you are a candidate for teeth whitening. If you are eligible, you may need to complete other dental procedures first, such as treating any cavities or gum disease first. Your mouth should be healthy before starting a whitening regimen. Professional teeth whitening can be completed at the office using gels and a special light to enhance the effect.
Custom At-Home Whitening Trays
Custom-made trays are filled with a whitening gel provided by your dental professional and worn at home. Different products will require wearing the tray at different times of the day and for various lengths of time. Your dental professional will instruct you about how to use the product to get the best results. After you have completed your at-home whitening regimen, your dental professional should examine you to evaluate your whitening treatment's success.
Whitening your teeth at home is more convenient. You need to follow the instructions carefully to get the best result and use the product safely. All whitening products may cause tooth sensitivity and can irritate your gum tissue with prolonged contact.
Professional in-office teeth whitening procedures are the fastest and most effective way to whiten your teeth. Your dental professional can closely monitor the progress of your whitening procedure while protecting your teeth and gums. However, treatments can be expensive, and your dental insurance may not cover these treatments. Thankfully, tooth whitening products in stores can remove many surface stains and give you a noticeably brighter smile. Ask your dental professional to recommend specific over-the-counter tooth whitening products that are safe to use as some products may be too abrasive to use regularly.
What Products Should I Use to Whiten My Teeth?
You don't necessarily have to change your habits to whiten your teeth. There are a few products out there you can add to your daily routine or toss in your bag for on-the-go whitening. At-home whitening products include:
- Whitening toothpaste
- Whitening mouthwash
- Whitening pens
- Whitening strips
Colgate® Optic White® Overnight Whitening PenA teeth whitening pen with an enamel safe whitening serum formula designed for no tooth sensitivity.
Whitening pens are quick, easy, and portable. Whitening pens are thin brushes filled with a bleaching gel. To whiten your teeth, you simply apply a thin layer of gel to your teeth, much like applying nail polish. To ensure even whitening, apply the gel to the entire front surface of each tooth.
Whitening pens are perfect for use before a special event. Whitening pens may produce a noticeable difference in tooth shade by lightening the outer layer of tooth enamel. However, the gel does not penetrate into the tooth's deeper layers, limiting the overall result.
Whitening Toothpaste and Mouthwash
If you want to remove stains from your teeth gradually, whitening toothpaste and mouthwash are simple options. Several kinds of toothpaste can brighten your smile, including toothpaste with small amounts of peroxide, which penetrates the tooth to whiten, and baking soda, which helps remove surface stains. Whitening toothpaste is used just like other types of toothpaste. Simply brush twice a day, and, over time, your teeth will brighten.
Whitening toothpaste and mouthwash work gradually by lifting stains from your enamel as you brush and rinse. They help remove discoloration from stain-causing foods and drinks like coffee and red wine. However, whitening toothpaste doesn't brighten teeth as much as professional whitening trays or gels.
Whitening toothpaste is also a good choice for maintaining your tooth shade after professional whitening and ensuring that teeth remain white over longer periods, especially if you continue to consume tooth-staining foods and beverages.
Whitening strips are available over-the-counter in most stores and are available in different strengths. These products consist of thin strips of plastic coated with whitening gel on one side, which is applied to your teeth' front surface. Most people use two strips, one on the top teeth and one on the bottom teeth, which can be worn simultaneously.
Whitening strips are very convenient and popular, but it is essential to follow the instructions for application and wear time carefully to get the best result. Care should be taken not to apply the strip over the gumline, as the gel can irritate the tissue. Whitening strips aren't as portable or as simple as pens or toothpaste, but they tend to have more bleaching agent or peroxide in the gel than these more portable products.
Things to Consider Before Choosing Teeth Whitening Products
It is essential to talk to your dental professional before using any teeth whitening system. Teeth whitening isn't appropriate for everyone and is not recommended for children.
Chemical whitening can irritate sensitive teeth and gums, especially if you have gum disease. If your teeth are stained brown or gray, they may not whiten evenly when they're bleached. Fillings and crowns cannot be whitened and may appear darker if adjacent teeth are whitened. If you plan to replace older fillings or crowns, whiten your teeth first so that your dentist can match your new dental work to the lighter shade.
There are several options to whiten your teeth, but your dentist can help you make the right choice for your situation, including alternatives like veneers to brighten your smile.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.