Teeth whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic dentistry treatments that offers a quick, non-invasive and affordable way to enhance a smile. It can be used to remove surface stains, as well as deep intrinsic stains, and is available in both in-office and take-home treatments. Household bleaches come from your dentist or are sold without a prescription and can be applied to teeth using trays, strips, as a rinse, or with a brush. A number of whitening toothpastes have earned the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance and have been shown to whiten teeth by removing surface stains.
Look for the seal when choosing whitening toothpaste. The chemical used in teeth whitening products is usually hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide oxidizes and breaks down stains in the spaces between the enamel, diluting the pigments and providing the appearance of clearer teeth. Carbamide peroxide is slower acting but is preferred for at-home teeth whitening. Fruit and vinegar contain acid, and you put your pearly whites at risk when you prolong contact with your teeth or use them to scrub your teeth, because acid can wear down enamel. Your dentist can make custom whitening trays for your upper and lower teeth.
You put the whitening gel in the trays and use them for short periods during the day or during the night. Your dentist will tell you how long to use them. If you wear the splints for too long, the peroxide in the gel can irritate your teeth. Household bleaches are designed to be used for days or weeks. The cost of teeth whitening can vary significantly from product to product, procedure to procedure.
Tooth whitening performed by a dentist is at the opposite end of the price spectrum from over-the-counter options. Today, cosmetic dentistry experts believe that even deep intrinsic stains can be removed with supervised take-home teeth whitening that lasts for a few months or even a year. The two most common side effects with teeth whitening are a temporary increase in tooth sensitivity and mild irritation of the soft tissues of the mouth, especially the gums. Patients should understand the risks before having teeth whitening in a beauty salon or anywhere other than the dentist's office. Good candidates for teeth whitening are those looking to improve mild to moderate discoloration on the surface of the teeth. However, patients with intrinsic stains are often better suited for an alternative cosmetic procedure, such as porcelain veneers.
According to the FDA, the term “whitening” is allowed to be used only when teeth can be whitened beyond their natural color. You don't need to go to a cosmetic dentist to whiten your teeth. Many general dentists use the same process and products and have the same ability to provide treatment. If the patient already has a dentist they are happy with, it might make sense to stay with them to whiten their teeth. Those who don't have a dentist can use our online tool to find local general and cosmetic dentists who offer whitening and begin the process of making an appointment. Both in-office and take-home teeth whitening can help you achieve the beautiful smile you've always wanted.
Teeth whitening is an extremely safe and minimally invasive treatment that is available with very few restrictions.