What Are the Best Teeth Whitening Methods?
Having stained or yellowed teeth can be frustrating, leaving you searching for effective whitening options. However, not all solutions are equally quick and effective. Read on to learn about various types of teeth whitening and how they work.
Over-the-Counter Teeth Whitening Strips and Gels
You can purchase peroxide-based whitening strips or gels at your local pharmacy. The strips consist of a thin material coated with hydrogen peroxide gel. You apply them by sticking them directly on your teeth or using the brush that comes with the kit. Since the peroxide’s strength varies depending on the specific brand, some whitening products work better than others.
Here are some factors you should consider before you buy an over-the-counter kit.
- The results: You may start to notice results after a few days of whitening, but the full course takes over a week. Over-the-counter whitening products are less effective than other methods, and you can expect to enjoy a brighter smile for about four months if you apply them twice a day.
- The cost: Whitening strips are generally the least expensive way to get healthier-looking teeth.
- The application process: You can use teeth whitening strips yourself without a dentist’s help, but the process lacks a professional quality.
Take-Home Teeth Whitening Kit
Your dentist must prescribe a take-home whitening kit. Before you can start the whitening process, you have to go to the office for the clinical staff to make molds of your upper and lower teeth. The dental lab uses the putty mold to create customized mouth trays that fit your teeth perfectly.
The mouth trays have small bubbles over the teeth to hold the whitening gel above your gums. Your dentist will instruct you on how to apply the gel to minimize contact with your gums, which can cause irritation. Other side effects of using a whitening kit are sensitivity to temperature changes and pain in the front teeth. Side effects tend to fade as you continue using the kits, but you can switch toothpastes to a brand recommended for patients with sensitive teeth if the side effects persist.
Here’s what you need to know before using a take-home kit.
- The results: Like over-the-counter strips, the whitening component will contain hydrogen peroxide, but the in-office treatment contains a stronger concentration for a faster whitening effect. You can wear your whitening trays with the take-home kit for over an hour each day for up to 14 days.
- The cost: Take-home kits are an affordable teeth whitening method if you want professional results.
- The application process: The dentist oversees the creation of your mouth trays to ensure your treatment will be safe and effective. When you apply the trays consistently, your results will compare to an in-office treatment.
Whitening toothpaste is another over-the-counter product that can help whiten your smile. The results of using it are usually subtle, but whitening toothpaste can effectively treat surface stains. Toothpaste lacks the strength to alter the color of your teeth, but it can help fade yellow spots and may prevent new stains from forming.
Many patients who get whitening treatments use this type of toothpaste for maintenance. You will notice a whiter smile if you regularly use whitening toothpaste.
In-Office Teeth Whitening
In-office treatments are usually the best method to whiten teeth for most patients. You have to go to the dentist’s office to get your teeth whitened, which will take around two hours. The clinical staff will apply a solution with a high concentration of hydrogen peroxide and leave it on your teeth for about a half-hour. Then, they’ll repeat the process to enhance the treatment’s effects. Some dentists use a light to further maximize the results.
Consider these factors before you visit your dentist to get your teeth whitened.
- The results: A professional treatment is the quickest teeth whitening method, and you will see the results immediately.
- The cost: Since your dentist uses the highest-quality products, you can expect to pay the most for this approach.
- The application process: Your dentist and the clinical staff will guide you through the whitening process.
At-Home vs. Dentist-Supervised Whitening
At-home teeth whitening can be effective, but the results are less noticeable and take longer than going to a professional session in your dentist’s office. Consider these different teeth whitening options before deciding which treatment to use.
1. The Trays
If you go to your dentist for take-home bleaching trays, you will get molds of your teeth made, so your trays will fit perfectly. Custom trays provide maximum contact with the whitening gel, while minimizing contact with your gums.
The one-size-fits-all mouthpieces offered by over-the-counter whitening products work less effectively. You might discover this option fits your teeth poorly and causes gum irritation from the bleaching gel seeping down and contacting your soft tissues.
2. The Bleaching Agent
Over-the-counter products have lower concentrations of the whitening agent. Even take-home whitening kits usually have a mild concentration of carbamide peroxide instead of a high hydrogen peroxide content.
3. The Procedure
If you go to an in-office procedure for a whitening session, your dentist will supervise the process and carefully apply the bleaching agent to ensure your safety and comfort. For example, you will have to wear a rubber shield to protect your gums, or the staff will apply a protective gel along your gumline before the bleach goes in your mouth trays.
If you use an over-the-counter product, you will only get the trays or the strips with the bleaching gel, and you’ll need to use the products several times before you notice results.
For patients with sensitive teeth or oral health problems, it’s best to go to your dentist for an oral exam before you treat your teeth with a whitening system. A dentist can also give you advice about which type of whitening would be best for lightening the stains on your teeth.
4. The Cost
The most affordable option for teeth whitening is an over-the-counter product, while in-office whitening sessions are the most expensive. If you’re searching for a bargain, remember you might have to purchase several over-the-counter products to achieve your desired results.
Get Your Teeth Whitened With Drew Family Dentistry
Do you want customized whitening trays or an in-office whitening procedure? Going to a dentist can help you get the best tooth whitening method for you. If you get a take-home kit, your dentist will make sure your custom trays fit, and you can ask questions about how to follow the directions to get the best results. Contact us to learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment.