A smile says a lot about a person. The brighter the smile, the better the impression you make. Beyond brushing, there are many ways to whiten and brighten a smile, both at home and in a professional dental office.
What is the yardstick for measuring the success of teeth whitening? Dentists say that a product that lightens the teeth by three or more shades is an effective one. In recent years, teeth whitening treatments have become the most popular cosmetic procedure available.
Teeth Whitening Facts
Teeth whitening treatments work best on natural teeth, not veneers, bonding or teeth with crowns. They work best on teeth with yellowed staining, especially from tea and coffee.
Teeth whitening treatments do not deliver permanent results. Depending upon the technique selected, it can last anywhere from one month to over a year before a touch-up is needed. Limiting tooth-staining liquids like coffee, tea and wine also influences the longevity of any whitening treatment.
Teeth whitening procedures are not recommended for those who:
- are currently pregnant or nursing
- have gum disease
- have cracked teeth or dental caries
- are under 16 years old
It should be noted that most methods of dental whitening can cause tooth sensitivity.
The Simplest Solution
Whitening toothpastes are increasingly popular for daily dental care. Consumer studies report a 22 percent increase in their usage over the past year. The low bleach concentration in whitening toothpaste delivers a minimal degree of tooth lightening. This at-home technique costs about $15.00 for a two-week treatment kit.
There are also teeth whitening rinses available over-the-counter. A simple twice-a-day, 60-second swish before brushing is the mode of delivery. This 12-week plan minimally lightens teeth, much like whitening toothpaste.
Beyond toothpaste, the do-it-yourself kits you can buy (such as Crest Night Effects, among others) are reportedly the best overall whiteners. These include brush-on bleaching gel that is left in place overnight and then brushed off in the morning. The process is repeated for 14 days during which time it lightens teeth up to five shades.
At an added cost of $400-$600, in-office dental bleaching provides the ultimate bleaching effect on teeth. A gel containing 15-25 percent hydrogen peroxide is applied to the teeth and activated with a special LED or laser treatment light during the one-hour process. This professional process lightens teeth three to eight shades.
Want Something In-Between?
Some dentists offer take-home tray teeth whitening. This is a process in which the dentist casts a custom-fit dental tray. The patient fills the trays with bleaching gel and wears the dental tray for 30-90 minutes a day over a two-week period. This is an effective whitening process.
Simple and Surprising Choice
Teeth-whitening chewing gum can lighten teeth by one shade. Patients chew the gum four times a day for six weeks to achieve a one shade lightening effect. Trident White and Aquafresh are popular brands.
The most common, do-it-yourself teeth whitening is the popular whitening strip method. These strips work to subtly whiten teeth over time.
The bottom line is that a professional tooth whitening delivers the fastest and best results, if price is not a concern. The next best choice is professionally-prescribed take-home trays.