The Shortcut To Your Whitest, Brightest Smile
By James Wagner
With the myriad of teeth whitening options on the market, it can be difficult to decide which product is right for you. For the quickest and most dramatic results, dentists specializing in cosmetic dentistry still offer the best solution with laser teeth whitening.
There are many other options available to people looking for a quick way to brighten their smile, but few methods produce the results seen in laser whitening. Over the counter teeth whitening kits are generally considered safe, although they can cause sensitivity. While in-office teeth whitening produces instant results, products you buy over the counter generally take longer and don’t produce the same level of whitening.
Why is My Smile Fading?
There are several factors that lead to yellowing or staining, including diet, medications and smoking. Coffee, soda, tea and red wine are major offenders. However, even if these items were cut out of your diet, ageing is a natural process that unfortunately leads to dull, stained teeth.
The surface of the tooth is porous, so even with vigilant brushing, your teeth will stain over time. Thankfully, this damage is reversible with the teeth whitening technology now available. A brighter, whiter smile instills confidence and improves your entire physical appearance.
What Are My Teeth Whitening Options?
Before using any product, consult with your dentist. The degree of staining and your desired results are deciding factors in which method you should choose to brighten your smile. While commercially available treatments may whiten your teeth three or four shades, cosmetic dentists can produce amazing results – up to 14 shades whiter.
Occasionally, teeth are too damaged and stained for even laser whitening to produce desirable results. In that case, your dentist may recommend porcelain veneers. A veneer may be applied on a few specific teeth, while the others undergo a whitening treatment. If most of your teeth are affected, you might opt for several veneers.
In-office Treatment is by far the quickest and most effective teeth whitening method. In 45 minutes, you can expect your teeth to become 8 to 10 shades whiter. The cosmetic dentist begins by gently cleaning your teeth and removing plaque along the gum line. Because the peroxide compound whitening solution is so much stronger than the type used in home treatments, the dentist uses a rubber gum guard or barrier to protect your soft tissues from damage. They will apply the whitening gel 3 times, 15 minutes apart, and activate its stain-removing power with a special lamp or laser.
Rembrandt®, BrightSmile® and Zoom!® are popular types of in-office treatments that produce similar results. This is a great option for people with highly sensitive teeth or those who expect instant results. While it is more expensive than home treatments, the cost varies depending on the dentist performing the treatment, what type of gel they use and whether or not your insurance company is footing a part of the bill (most insurance providers do not include cosmetic dentistry in their coverage).
At-home Treatments should still be supervised by your cosmetic dentist. These treatments come in the form of a professional grade whitening gel with teeth trays, usually custom fit to your mouth. Your cosmetic dentist will examine your teeth before providing the whitening gel, to ensure that your mouth is free of cavities and decay. At-home whitening gel can actually cause damage to decayed teeth. They will also remove any excess plaque that could hinder the whitening process.
The gel-filled trays and worn overnight for two to three weeks, the time in which it takes to see maximum results.
Over the Counter Whitening Treatments are not as effective as teeth whitening treatments provided by or performed by your cosmetic dentist. Companies such as Colgate® and Crest® offer a wide variety of gels, strips, paint-on liquids and other solutions that are used for several weeks at a time. Many people find that the solutions cause excessive temperature sensitivity and prefer to use the stronger dentist’s office treatments for a shorter period.
These over the counter treatments do not produce the dramatic results that the in-office and at-home dentist’s solutions can and are therefore suitable for people looking to brighten their smile just a few shades.
Whitening Toothpastes work by removing surface stains from the tooth enamel. Proper brushing, flossing and regular dentist visits should produce the same results. Those with resistant tooth damage and staining from medications such as tetracycline will find that whitening toothpastes and over the counter treatments are ineffective.
How Long Will My Teeth Stay Whiter?
With proper care and regular touch-ups, your new bright smile should last for years. However, coffee, tea, red wine, blueberries and other foods can take their toll on your pearly whites. Avoid these foods and cigarettes to keep your smile looking its best.
After a professional in-office treatment, over the counter products can be used every few months to remove new surface stains.
How Much Will It Cost to Have My Teeth Whitened?
The cost varies according to which treatment you choose and your desired results. In-office laser whitening ranges from a couple of hundred to over a thousand pounds, while over the counter treatments are as low as £10. Porcelain veneers start around £350 per tooth and go up depending on the work needed to prepare the tooth and the cosmetic dentist applying it.
At-home or over the counter whitening is a good choice for those on a limited budget who don’t mind performing the whitening themselves each night. Visit your dentist for a thorough cleaning to remove excess plaque and check for tooth decay before applying any home treatment.
For those seeking instant results, those with sensitive teeth and those who are not concerned with the budget, in-office laser whitening is a quick, simple and painless way to a brighter smile. See your cosmetic dentist for a consultation.
About the Author: James Wagner is a freelance writer and medical researcher.
You can find more information here on teeth whitening, cosmetic dentistry and general dental care.