Professional vs. Over-the-Counter Teeth Whitening
A beautifully white smile undoubtedly looks attractive, youthful and healthy, but it’s rare to be blessed with naturally white teeth. Teeth can stain thanks to lifestyle habits, acid erosion, your choice of foods and beverages, or even because of brushing teeth too hard, wearing away tooth enamel. Teeth may also darken due to root canal treatment or will stain because of dental fluorosis or tetracycline use. Whatever the reason for tooth discoloration, it’s a look that can be prematurely aging. Teeth whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic dental treatments available today, and it’s extremely affordable. Options include over-the-counter teeth whitening products or professional teeth whitening carried out by a properly trained dental professional.
Over-The-Counter Teeth Whitening Products
If you take a walk down the dental care section of your local drugstore or supermarket, then you will almost certainly find a wide selection of over-the-counter teeth whitening products. These include whitening strips, gels, and mouth trays. These over-the-counter products will contain a lower strength of active ingredients compared with the professional whitening products used in dental offices. These products must be used exactly as instructed and you should never leave over-the-counter products on for longer than recommended. There is an excellent reason for this because if misused or overused, whitening products can damage your teeth and gums.
It is also possible to buy whitening toothpaste and whitening mouth rinses. Some whitening toothpastes are very abrasive and could damage your tooth enamel if used too frequently, so check the label to ensure the toothpaste doesn’t contain any abrasive ingredients. A whitening toothpaste that is safe to use will have little effect on the overall color of your teeth and can only remove very slight surface stains. Whitening mouth rinses tend to contain a low percentage of hydrogen peroxide to help bleach away surface stains on teeth. Like whitening toothpaste, a mouth rinse will have minimal effect on the color of your teeth because it isn’t in contact with them sufficiently long enough to make a real difference.
Professional Teeth Whitening
A professional tooth whitening treatment is extremely effective, and your treatment will be fully customized to minimize or eliminate any unwanted side-effects such as tooth sensitivity. Most importantly, a professional tooth whitening treatment is safe and will not damage your teeth and gums.
Why It’s Important to Have a Dental Exam Before Whitening
Before you can even have a professional tooth whitening treatment, Dr. Lance Ogata, our dentist must examine your teeth and gums. It’s essential to have a checkup before you whiten your teeth, even if you decide to go the DIY route. Untreated dental diseases like tooth decay and gum disease could worsen if you whiten an unhealthy mouth. At the very least, you’re likely to find your tooth whitening treatment is somewhat uncomfortable or even painful. If needed, Dr. Ogata can provide the appropriate treatment for any dental problems, and he will also discuss your whitening options, how they will help your smile and the type of results you can reasonably expect.
Everybody’s teeth are a slightly different shade and can whiten very differently, for example, teeth that have a grayish shade or color may not whiten as much as teeth that have a yellowish shade. The outcome of treatment is also affected by any existing dental restorations because porcelain crowns, bridges and veneers, and any tooth-colored fillings will not change color during treatment. If you do have any restorations, then Dr. Ogata can advise you on the best way to make sure you end up with an evenly shaded smile. It could be that you need to replace some restorations once you have whitened your teeth, so that they can be accurately matched to the new color of your teeth.
Benefit from Professional Grade Whitening Products
The products used for a professional teeth whitening treatment are stronger than anything you can purchase over-the-counter because they can only be prescribed by dental professionals who know exactly how to apply them. They can also contain special ingredients designed to minimize tooth sensitivity and to help protect your teeth during treatment. Choose from an in-office whitening treatment or opt to whiten more slowly in the comfort of your own home with a customized home whitening kit.
In-Office Whitening Treatments
An in-office whitening treatment is a perfect solution if you want to whiten as quickly as possible, perhaps in preparation for a wedding, vacation or another a special event that is coming up very shortly. With an in-office whitening treatment, your lips and gums are protected before your teeth are painted with whitening gel which quickly penetrates your tooth enamel, lifting even deep-seated stains. We might choose to remove and reapply this whitening gel several times during your treatment which will take approximately an hour to complete. Afterward, your teeth will look several shades brighter than before.
Custom Home Whitening Kits
Alternatively, Dr. Ogata can create a custom home whitening kit for you, making mouth trays that will fit precisely over your teeth, ensuring the whitening gel cannot leak out. He will prescribe the proper strength of whitening gel for you, and this is a gel that contains carbamide peroxide which is a very safe form of hydrogen peroxide and is suitable for home use. You’ll be shown how to fill the whitening trays and how to insert and remove them. You can use the trays for a few hours each day or leave them in overnight. Within a few days, your teeth will begin to look visibly brighter, but it can take about two weeks to complete this treatment. One of the advantages of choosing custom whitening trays is that you can always reuse the trays when you want to top up the results, provided your teeth don’t change position or shape. Another advantage of choosing this option is that you can whiten more slowly which can be nice if you have especially sensitive teeth.
If you want to obtain the very best results when whitening your teeth and you want to do it safely, then a professional tooth whitening treatment is affordable and effective. Even if you decide to try some of the over-the-counter whitening products, for your protection and comfort, please have a dental exam before using any of these products on your teeth and make sure you follow the instructions to the letter.