What better way to greet your loved one this Valentine’s Day than with a brilliant smile? Whether you want immediate results or are willing to invest just a few days or weeks in the process, there is a whitening treatment to fit your needs – and your budget.
For a lot of people, a whitening toothpaste is the easiest choice for making their teeth whiter. If you follow the average over-the-counter whitening toothpaste’s instructions, you can have a whiter, brighter smile in as little as one week. These toothpastes generally contain concentration of 1% to 1.5% hydrogen peroxide, which is enough to clean surface stains, but won’t penetrate your tooth enamel to work on hard-to-remove stains such as buildup from black coffee or red wine.
Like whitening toothpastes, whitening rinses use hydrogen peroxide to whiten your teeth. All you have to do is rinse your mouth with one of these special whitening mouthwashes for 60 seconds each morning and at night. You should begin to see noticeable results within a week. Some whitening rinses claim to work up to four times better than whitening pastes, and if you combine a whitening mouthwash with a whitening toothpaste, you can expect to see even better results.
Over-the-Counter Gel Whitening Trays
Using a milder whitening gel than professional at-home systems, most over-the-counter whitening trays are fairly easy to use. You usually wear a set of gel-filled whitening trays for up to an hour daily until your teeth reach the desired shade. While this method uses a higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide than either whitening toothpastes or mouthwashes, generally in the 6% to 10% range, your teeth will still only whiten up to certain point. Also, these products may make your teeth more sensitive. In addition, over-the-counter tooth-whitening trays often do not fit your mouth perfectly, which can allow the whitening gel to leak, lead to gum irritation and provide a less effective whitening result.
At-Home Whitening Strips
Another popular method of whitening your teeth at home is the use of whitening strips which are applied directly to your teeth for approximately an hour each day. Like whitening trays, these strips generally contain a hydrogen peroxide concentration of 6% to 10%, and as with other at-home whitening treatments, the results will vary. Whitening strips are most effective when your teeth are completely straight, because the plastic strips must touch the entire surface of each tooth for optimal results.
At-Home Brush-On Gel Whitening Systems
Brush-on gel whitening systems have been a popular at-home choice for many years. You simply brush on the formula, allow it to dry on your teeth for 10 – 30 minutes and end up with whiter teeth. Most of the brush-on whitening systems use a concentration of hydrogen peroxide that is up to 21%, which is generally higher than that of either whitening toothpastes, trays, strips or mouthwashes. This means that you may find that you get better, quicker results with this system – but also that you may be more likely to experience side effects such as tooth sensitivity and gum irritation.
Natural At-Home Whitening Treatments
On the other end of the spectrum are natural at-home tooth-whitening treatments. From homemade pastes to scrubs, there are a number of natural options that can help to remove surface stains and return your teeth to a lighter shade. Most combine an ingredient with mild bleaching properties, such as lemon juice or strawberries, with a mild abrasive, such as salt or baking soda, to scrub away stains. These recipes are generally safe and can be the most inexpensive option, although they generally do not provide results that are as impressive as most tooth-whitening products.
Beware of “Professional” Bleaching Services from Mall Kiosks or Spas
While there are a number of safe over-the-counter products for tooth whitening, it is important to keep in mind that many tooth-whitening services are unregulated and un-researched. They may use methods and materials that could potentially cause irreversible damage. Companies that provide tooth whitening at mall kiosks or in spas often use chlorine dioxide as the active ingredient instead of hydrogen peroxide in order to avoid local and state legislation. These products are actually more harmful to teeth and gums, have little or no safety studies. In fact, they have been shown to strip the enamel off of teeth, reduce shine and cause sensitivity.
Professional At-Home Teeth Whitening
The best way to minimize potential risks and maximize benefits of tooth whitening is to use products under the supervision of your dentist. Professional at-home whitening systems contain hydrogen peroxide from 10% to 15%, which can produce impressive results. These trays are custom-fitted to your mouth with a mold to ensure that the gel is evenly applied to all teeth. Friendly Dentistry offers an at-home teeth-whitening program, and our new patients get a free at-home whitening kit with their first complete check-up with x-rays and cleaning!
In-Office Tooth Bleaching
In-office tooth bleaching has been a part of dental practice for many years. There are a number of teeth-whitening options available to address a variety of patient concerns including sensitivity to whitening agents, budget and time commitment. In many cases, you can have significantly whiter teeth after a series of 10 to 15 minute treatments. Using hydrogen peroxide concentrations up to 35%, these treatments can make your teeth many shades whiter. Like many dentists, Friendly Dentistry offers a number of different in-office tooth bleaching options.
In-Office Laser Whitening
The most popular dental office teeth-whitening procedure today is laser bleaching, but don’t let the name scare you. In actuality no lasers are used for these procedures. This whitening method actually uses halogen, LED or plasma arc light systems. A concentrated carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide gel is applied onto your teeth, and then you sit for 30 – 60 minutes while the light activates the peroxide gel to complete the teeth bleaching process in as short a time as possible. This is another teeth-whitening option you can find at Friendly Dentistry.
Keep in mind that the ADA recommends that patients only use bleaching products, including over-the-counter versions, after consultation with a dentist. If you have any questions about brightening your smile, call your dentists at Friendly Dentistry today and we will be happy to provide you with answers and options. We offer the newest options for professional at-home whitening, in-office bleaching and in-office laser whitening systems.