As a person ages, adult teeth often darken as a result of changes in the mineral structure of the teeth, as the enamel becomes less porous. In addition, teeth can also stain from bacterial pigments, certain foods and beverages, including coffee, soft drinks and red wine, and tobacco use. Some antibiotic medications such as tetracycline can also cause teeth to stain or reduce the brilliance of the tooth enamel.
There are several methods of teeth whitening. A brief summary of the available alternatives is featured below.
All toothpastes contain mild abrasives that help remove surface stains on the teeth. Whitening toothpastes contain gentle polishing or chemical agents that provide additional stain removal effectiveness. They can lighten the tooth color by about one shade, compared to light-activated whitening performed in the dentist’s office, which can make your teeth three to eight shades lighter.
Over-the-Counter Whitening Strips and Gels
Whitening gels are clear, peroxide-based gels you apply directly to the surface of your teeth using a small brush. Instructions generally call for twice a day application for 14 days. Initial results are seen in a few days and final results in about four months.
Whitening strips are very thin, virtually invisible strips that are coated with a peroxide-based whitening gel. They are applied twice daily for 30 minutes over a period of 14 days. Initial results can be seen in a few days and final results are sustained for about four months.
These are among the newest whitening products available on the market. Like most mouthwashes, they freshen breath and help reduce dental plaque and gum disease. But these products also include ingredients, such as hydrogen peroxide, that whiten teeth. Like mouthwash, you just swish them around in your mouth for about a minute twice a day before brushing your teeth. It can take up to 12 weeks to see the results, however. In fact, some experts say that rinses may not be as effective as other over-the-counter whitening products. Because a whitening rinse is only in contact with the teeth for such a short time—just two minutes a day compared to 30 minutes for many strips—it may be less effective.
Tray-Based Tooth Whiteners
Tray-based tooth whitening systems, which can purchased either over-the-counter or from a dentist, involve filling a mouth guard-like tray with a gel whitening solution that contains a peroxide-bleaching agent. The tray is worn for a specific period of time, generally from a couple of hours a day or during the night for up to four weeks or longer (depending on the degree of discoloration and desired level of whitening).
In-office bleaching provides the quickest and most effective way to whiten teeth. With in-office bleaching, the whitening product is applied directly to the teeth and often used in combination with heat, a special light, and/or a laser. Results are seen after one, 30- to 60-minute treatment. But to achieve the best results, several appointments are usually recommended. With in-office bleaching, dramatic results can be seen even after the first treatment.
To learn more about our in-office teeth whitening procedure, and how the dentists at Crystal Dental can brighten your smile, schedule an appointment with us today for a consultation. Contact Us!