Nowadays, there are plenty of teeth whitening options on the market. From your drugstore whitening toothpaste to in-office procedures, patients are truly spoilt for choice. Having all these options can be challenging in itself, however, as it can be hard to determine which option would best suit your needs and your lifestyle. Here, we’ve created a short guide to the most popular teeth whitening treatments to help you make an informed choice.
We’re all familiar with whitening toothpaste. Most often, that’s the first solution patients try in their quest for the perfect smile. These products typically contain mild abrasives, such as silica and sodium bicarbonate, and may include additional polishing agents and chemicals. Toothpaste can be an excellent option for removing surface-level stains. If you have mild discoloration, such as recent coffee or wine stains, you’ll likely be able to get back to your natural tooth color within a few weeks of using a whitening toothpaste. However, it’s important to note that toothpaste alone can’t whiten your tooth color beyond its natural state. If you’re looking for dramatic results, you’ll be better off opting for a more permanent solution.
At-Home Teeth Whitening Strips
Tooth whitening strips that you can buy from the drugstore typically contain a bleaching solution, such as hydrogen peroxide. These strips need to be applied directly to the teeth for a certain amount of time (typically between 30 and 180 minutes each session) for a few times a week. They can offer some dramatic results within a few weeks, but please be careful not to exceed the treatment length and frequency recommended on the packaging. Doing so may cause over-bleaching, which in turn increases your risk of developing gum sensitivity and compromising the structural integrity of the tooth. Strips are an inexpensive solution for patients who can’t afford a professional in-office treatment. However, they can take much longer to show results and can’t bleach your teeth far beyond your natural color. They’re also far less effective at treating deep discoloration, such as cigarette and coffee stains that have accumulated over the years. So, if you’re looking for immediate results or are looking for the pearly-white Hollywood smile, you may be better suited for a professional treatment.
Drugstore Teeth Whitening Gels
Over recent years, gels have become increasingly popular and they’ve started to replace strips as the most popular drugstore option. Typically, they come in a kit with a one-size-fits-all mouth tray on which you need to apply the gel before wearing it for a certain amount of time. Some gels can be worn for hours at a time, which can give the impression that they’re more effective than traditional strips. We have found that isn’t true in most cases and gels and strips don’t vary significantly in effectiveness, so you’re best off simply going for the option you find more comfortable. Please note that store-bought whitening gels are not the same as those you can get from the dentist’s office. Professional gels are typically stronger and carry less risk for irritation and developing sensitivities, so please get in touch with us if you’re interested in exploring that option.
Whitening Light Devices
We need to take the time to mention drugstore blue light devices which are marketed as a new generation at-home method for whitening your teeth. Unfortunately, they offer little more than a placebo effect — these blue light kits work only as well as the actual bleaching solution they include. At present, the only effective light treatment you can get is the UV light at a dentist’s office, so don’t fall for these well-marketed but ineffective products.
In-Office Teeth Whitening Treatment
These treatments are without a doubt the most effective way to achieve the smile you desire. There’s a good reason why in-office treatments are considered the gold standard in teeth whitening — dentists have the skills and experience to tailor the treatment to your unique characteristics and goals. Unlike over-the-counter teeth whitening solutions which need to include a lower concentration of bleaching agents, in-office treatments are far more potent while also being safer. There’s little risk of the solution getting to your gums or being over-applied at certain spots. This means you’re far less likely to develop longer-term issues such as pain and increased sensitivity.
On top of this, every dentist appointment begins with a thorough examination of your teeth as a bleaching agent can exacerbate pre-existing dental issues. Respectable dentists will refuse to perform a whitening procedure before all issues, for instance, cavities or gum problems, are taken care of. Of course, these check-ups aren’t possible with at-home whitening treatments — unless of course, you go to the dentist on your own accord — so you’re always running the risk of doing more harm than good to your smile.
So, what does a professional teeth whitening treatment look like? To start, your dentist will first do a thorough check-up on your teeth. If your smile is all healthy, your dentist will proceed to apply a protective solution to your teeth. Then, they’ll apply the actual bleaching gel and let it sit for about 25 to 30 minutes. Depending on the results, they may follow up with a second application or use a UV light to get you closer to your desired shade of white. Most patients can achieve their desired results with just one treatment. However, those who wish to reach an extremely bright shade of white or have deeply stained teeth may need further treatment. Your dentist may either give you tailor-made whitening trays to wear at home or they may schedule another treatment in a few weeks’ time.
Get in Touch with Us at Chappaqua Dentistry
In this article, we’ve done our best to cover the basics of all types of tooth-whitening treatment. However, if you still have any questions, our helpful team members will be more than happy to assist you without any pressure to make an appointment. We’re also here to help you decide on the best shade of white for your teeth and advise you on your treatment options. So please, don’t hesitate to give us a call or use the contact form on our website.