How do You Whiten Teeth

Based on a survey compiled by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), nearly half of adult Americans find a person’s smile to be the feature that most stands out after an introduction. The importance of a bright, healthy-looking smile could explain why many people are curious about options for whitening their teeth. Whether the patient recently had braces removed, are preparing for a big event, or want to simply brighten their smile, this article will examine the various tooth whitening options available.

Start with a Visit to Your Dentist

People who want to whiten their teeth should start with a consultation with their dentist. The dentist will help identify the cause of any discoloration, evaluate suitable treatment options, and discuss any risk factors. For example, any gum disease or tooth decay may need to be first addressed in order to limit gum irritation and tooth sensitivity during whitening. Additionally, whitening will have the best results if performed on healthy teeth.

The dentist will also determine if the staining or discoloration is intrinsic or extrinsic. Intrinsic stains affect surfaces underneath the enamel and require bleaching to chemically change the tooth color. Occurring on the surface of the teeth, extrinsic stains can often be removed with mechanical efforts.

Professional Teeth Whitening Treatments

Patients seeking faster, more noticeable results, will likely want to visit a dentist for professional whitening treatments. Treatment options include:

* In-Office Whitening: These treatments use peroxide gels that are stronger, and more effective, than over-the-counter options. The dentist will apply a protective gel to shield the gums prior to applying the tooth whitening gel. High-intensity light may be used to speed up the reaction but in general, treatment takes about one hour and can often be accomplished in a single visit.

* Whitening Trays: These at-home trays are available in a variety of peroxide concentrations, generally 10-38% carbamide peroxide, to gradually bleach the teeth. The trays are customized to comfortably fit over the teeth while minimizing contact between the gums and whitening gel to prevent irritation. Depending on the extent of discoloration, these bleaching kits can take a few days to multiple weeks to achieve the desired results.

At-Home Teeth Whitening Treatments

Patients that prefer to whiten their teeth from the comfort of home, may opt for over-the-counter whitening methods. While less expensive than professional treatments, these at-home options use less concentrated bleaching agents which can require more time to achieve desired results.

Whitening Strips: These plastic strips apply a thin layer of whitening agent to the teeth. Typically, the bleaching agent is hydrogen peroxide. While cost-effective and convenient, strips may be difficult to apply directly to the enamel if the teeth are misaligned. Strips are generally worn for 30 to 60 minutes over the course of one to two weeks.

Whitening Toothpaste: These toothpastes employ mild abrasives to scrub tooth surfaces and remove extrinsic staining. While some may have hydrogen peroxide or baking soda, they primarily rely on polishing, rather than bleaching, to change the tooth’s color. Because of this, is could take longer to achieve desired results.


How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost