I you are looking to get the shine back in your smile, there are a lot of options on the market. There are professional teeth whitening options as well as home whitening kits. Let’s take a look at some options, as well as the pros and cons of each.
At-Home Teeth Whitening Products
Whitening toothpastes are abundant. It seems like every manufacturer produces a toothpaste that claims to make your teeth whiter. These toothpastes typically have special abrasives or chemicals that will polish or break down stains. They will not change the actual color of your natural teeth but, they can remove surface stains such as those caused by drinking coffee, tea or from smoking.
This is a cost efficient way to brighten your smile if your teeth have surface stains but, do not expect them to whiten your teeth beyond their natural color. Because of the added abrasives, people with sensitive teeth may want to steer clear of using these types of toothpastes as they can make teeth more sensitive.
Whitening strips are typically made out of a plastic material and coated with a peroxide or bleach gel. These chemicals work much in the same way as bleaching your clothes or hair.
The strips are applied to the teeth for a set amount of times (be sure to follow directions). In many cases, you can not eat or drink while wearing them. The strips are usually worn a couple times a day over an extended period of time (usually around a week). The chemical on the strips will slowly bleach the color from your teeth.
These strips are still relatively cheap compared to professional options but, they should be used with caution. Users should look for the ADA mark of approval. Some chemicals have been known to damage enamel and irritate gums.
Whitening strips can not change the shade of dental restorations, discoloration from antibiotic use or discoloration from tooth trauma.
Whitening rinses typically have a bleaching agent like hydrogen peroxide. By rinsing with the product every day, the whitening agent can slowly bleach the teeth. Because the rinse is only in contact with your teeth for a relatively short period of time, compared to other products, it can take a much longer time to see benefits.
Whitening rinses may be a good option to maintain your whiter teeth after using something stronger like whitening strips or a professional whitening product.
Professional Teeth Whitening Products
The most common professional teeth whitening products will use custom-made trays to fit your teeth. These can easily be done by a dentist or orthodontist. Because the trays are custom-made to fit your teeth, the bleaching agent can be better targeted to stay on your teeth and off your gums so, they can avoid some of the irritation common to home products.
Professional products can also use stronger bleaching agents and solutions that will produce better and quicker results. The dentist or orthodontist who is applying the product will mold the tray to fit your teeth and may use a light source or heat to speed up the process. They may also send the product home with you to continue the process.
Although professional whitening is more expensive, you are paying for a custom and stronger product that is just not available over-the-counter.