Tooth Whitening; Which Method Is Right For You?

Posted by Tooth Doctors Tooth Doctors
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by Kasia There are many products and methods out there to whiten teeth and can sometimes become confusing as to which product or method is best for you.  I have put together a list which can, hopefully, help in your decision to finding the right whitening system for you:
1) Whitening Toothpastes and Chewing Gum: These products help to remove only surface stains because they contain mild abrasives and can sometimes contain a chemical to help in stain removal. Typically they can lighten up to one shade.
2) Whitening Rinses: These products can be used as a mouthwash and contain Hydrogen Peroxide, which is the chemical that helps whiten teeth. Because the rinse is swished around in the mouth for only 60 seconds, it may take up to 3 months to see results.
3) Whitening Strips and Gels (over the counter):  These products are applied directly to the teeth using a small brush. The strips contain the peroxide already on them and the strip is placed directly on the teeth. These products are used for 2 weeks, twice daily for 30 minutes each session and results can last about 4-6 months. Many people find these products uncomfortable because they often slide out of position and saliva washes some of the product away which is ingested.
4) Whitening Trays: Trays can be fabricated by a dentist or bought over the counter. Over the counter trays are often not as comfortable because they come standard and mold to your teeth as you wear them.  Professional dental trays are fabricated in office by taking molds of the patient’s teeth. These trays are custom fit to the patient and are the most comfortable to wear. The whitening gel is then placed in the trays and the patient is instructed to wear them for 10-14 days, twice per day for half an hour per session. A night time formula can be used as well and the patient is instructed to wear the trays all night using a milder whitening formula of Carbamide Peroxide. Results last 4-6 months and because the whitening formula used by dental offices is often more concentrated, temporary tooth sensitivity is often a side effect.
5) In Office Whitening:  This whitening system uses a higher concentration of Hydrogen Peroxide and is applied directly to the teeth by the dentist. Depending on the whitening system, either heat a special light or laser is used to activate the whitening gel. Dramatic results can be seen in 1-3 sessions. The patient is given a take home whitening kit with custom fit trays to maintain the results. The in office whitening method is often the most expensive but offers the quickest results. Final results are sustained for 1 month to 1 year depending on patient lifestyle and exposure to tooth staining foods.
6) Whitening Non Vital Teeth:  After a tooth has been root canalled it is considered non vital and over time may begin to discolour. In this case, the dentist can place the whitening gel inside the tooth.

Whitening is patient specific and not everyone will have the same results. It is important to remember some of the factors influencing the final results:
• Only natural teeth will whiten; Any restorations on the teeth will not whiten
• Age plays a factor as well; Some older patients may not have the same results as some of the younger patients. Teeth change overtime effecting the overall absorption and results of tooth whitening
• Whitening results and sustainability depend on patient lifestyle; Smoking, coffee/tea, or eating highly staining foods such as berries will effect whitening
• Colour of stained teeth; Yellow coloured teeth will whiten nicely, brown coloured teeth will not respond as nicely and grayish coloured teeth are the most difficult to whiten

Whitening is not recommended for patients under the age of 18 because the nerve of the tooth is enlarged and is more susceptible to pulp irritation. Whitening is also not recommended for pregnant or lactating woman because there is always amounts of chemical that can be indjested.
Whitening is also not recommended for patients with gum disease or decay because this will result in sensitivity or further issues.
Hopefully this will shed some light on the whitening process and make it a little easier for you to decide which method is right for you. And if you are still having a hard time deciding or have any questions, the Tooth Doctors Team is ready to help so feel free to give us a call!