There are a wide variety of products available for whitening teeth, and it can be a bit confusing to know which is best for your particular needs – especially “in-home” whitening kits – depending upon the level of discoloration and the amount of whitening needed for good results, it is always best to meet with your dentist and have an assessment of your specific situation so that the dentist can make an informed recommendation for you. Generally speaking, in-office professional whitening, while a bit more expensive, is highly recommended when discoloration is extreme or if the patient wants a dramatic white smile result.
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At-Home Teeth Whitening
Tray bleaching is a type of professional whitening that uses custom-made trays and whitening gel only available through your dentist. The whitening gel is placed in custom-fitted trays that fit perfectly over your teeth. As the peroxide in the gel breaks down, hydroxyradicals help whiten stained teeth. Unlike strips, this process whitens all your natural teeth and may contain ingredients intended to provide maximum comfort. At home professional tray whitening generally takes 10-14 days, although you may notice results in as little as three to five days.
There are many over-the-counter teeth whitening options, and one type of readily accessible whitening product is commonly referred to as “paint-on” teeth whiteners. Paint-on whiteners can be purchased over-the-counter and generally are less expensive and less effective than whitening strips or professional options. Paint-on teeth whiteners consist of a gel that is applied to the tooth using a small brush. Paint-on whitening gel hardens into a film that coats the teeth, and dissolves in the mouth. As with any teeth whitening regimen, it is wise to consult with a dental professional before use.
Teeth whitening strips are thin, flexible plastic (polyethylene) strips with a thin film of hydrogen peroxide on one side. Whitening strip kits come with two types of strips: strips for the upper teeth and strips for the lower teeth. The whitening agent is applied by placing the strips across your teeth and gently pressing the strips into place to ensure contact with all your teeth. Teeth whitening strips are typically worn for 30 minutes a day, twice a day. The duration of treatment will vary.
The least expensive options are whitening toothpastes and mouthwashes. Designed to have “whitening” capabilities, toothpastes and mouthwashes work to remove surface stains using mild abrasives. However, unlike the materials used in professional whitening procedures, these products do not lighten the actual color shade of the tooth. Whitening toothpastes affect surface stains and will mildly lighten your teeth.
The first professional option is commonly referred to as “in office” whitening. This
In-Office Teeth Whitening
procedure is performed in your dentists’ office. An in office whitening treatment often includes using a warm whitening lamp or soft laser to enhance the effectiveness of the whitening product.
During your visit, your dental professional will apply the whitening gel and, depending on the system being used, will shine a light source directly onto the teeth. The entire office visit generally takes about 60-90 minutes and has immediate, usually dramatic, results, although the exact level of improvement won’t be known initially.