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More than 10 million Americans will spend over (an estimated) $2 billion this year on teeth whitening, making it more than just a fad. Teeth whitening is the most common cosmetic service offered by dentists in the United States, and sales of over-the-counter and mail-order products have increased dramatically.
But is it possible to have brilliant white teeth? How safe is teeth whitening? Is it painful? What’s the best approach? Can it be done at home? The responses to all these frequently asked questions tend to be: Yes, yes, usually not, conceivably bleaching, yes.
There are many ways to get whiter teeth, both at home and with your dentist (or a professional tooth whitening office). Many dentists perform the initial one or two procedures, after which they prepare you for the remainder at home. However, in addition to the “bleaching” methods, there are other options for whitening your teeth that involve structural changes to your teeth, such as “bonding” and “porcelain veneers.”
The objective of all bleach-based teeth whitening products is essentially the same: to remove stains from the enamel of your teeth. Because tooth enamel is porous, toothpaste and toothbrushes won’t work. Instead, bleach-based tooth whitening products come into play. You can see that bleaching agents get deep into the tooth enamel in the most effective methods. They start an oxidation process that breaks down the compounds in the enamel that cause stains, leaving you with white teeth. Although it may appear straightforward, numerous products on the market do not live up to their promises. Most over-the-counter products can only slightly whiten teeth, whereas professional products can dramatically change how white your teeth are.
A whitening toothpaste would be the starting point for teeth whitening products. Some people have shown a slight increase in brightness; however, because toothpaste is only applied to the teeth for a short period of time—you only brush for a few minutes—it typically cannot penetrate deeply enough to have much of an effect. Instead of working to penetrate the enamel and oxidize or clean the stains, some toothpastes contain very strong chemicals that are designed to work quickly (based on the short time they are exposed to your teeth). Instead, they can work as an abrasive that will etch away the enamel.
Next in line we have brightening strips. Whitening Strips are thin, pliable pieces of plastic that have had a thin layer of hydrogen peroxide bleach (typically 6% to 10% strength) applied to one side. They need to be worn for 30 minutes twice a day for seven to fourteen days because they are pressed against the top and lower teeth. They work, but because they can’t get into all the nooks and crannies and gaps between teeth, the results can sometimes be blotchy and not look as good as you thought they would.
Getting more serious, we offer bleach-based tooth whitening products that involve inserting a tray filled with a “bleaching” solution (hydrogen peroxide) into your mouth. This technique should be possible at home or by your dental specialist, or by a blend of dental specialist/at home. Over-the-counter “boil and bite” trays are readily available and can be purchased for a low price. After placing the tray in your mouth and biting into it, you boil it until it becomes hot and moldable. The final product is a tray that has been “partially” molded and is ready to use. This kind of tray has the drawback of not fitting properly, which can lead to inconsistent results and bleaching gel leaking into your mouth and gums. Smears on or around the gums can result in temporary (and even long-term) bleaching of the gums. Leakage of the bleach into the mouth is undesirable for obvious reasons.
In professional systems, you get a tray that is made just for you. This is important to make sure you get the right bleach and the same results every time. There will almost certainly be less leakage into your mouth and gums if you use a custom tray. You can get custom-fitting trays from your dentist or from several online specialists who sell DIY kits for trays. This kind of system sends you everything you need to make a custom-fitting stray by taking an impression of your teeth. Simply put, you use the provided materials to make your impression, place it in the addressed packing envelope, and send it off. Within two to seven business days, they will produce your individualized bleaching trays in a licensed laboratory and return them to you. After that, all you must do is apply the gel to the tray and place it in your mouth for the specified time periods.
The gel that is used in a tooth whitening system is the most crucial component. If you don’t have the right teeth whitening gel, you won’t be able to get the results you want from an expensive custom-fitted tray (mouthpiece). Instead, you’ll spend far too much time with the tray in your mouth. It is preferable to know precisely what whitening gels are made of and what they do to comprehend the differences between them and the reasons why they are regarded as the best tooth whitener.
Most gels either contain hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, and some contain flavors and fillers. In fact, carbamide peroxide breaks down in the mouth into hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is the dynamic whitener (a similar substance will fade your hair). The strength of the peroxide makes most gels distinct. Nowadays, most gels cost between 15 and 22 percent, with some of the most popular brands costing even more. The amount of time you need to keep the tray in your mouth will obviously be affected by the strength of the peroxide, and tooth sensitivity may play a significant role in determining which strength to use. Having said that, the amount of peroxide used and how long the teeth are exposed to it are more likely to cause sensitivity than the strength of the peroxide itself. As a result, some prefer to use a stronger strength (like 22 percent) for shorter periods of time. You can also get stronger versions, like 35%, but these are only good for short “bursts” of maintenance, like once a month for 15 to 30 minutes.
Bonding and porcelain veneers are two additional types of professional teeth whitening. Both alter the structure of your teeth. A composite resin is molded onto the teeth during bonding to alter their color and shape. Over time, the resin material may chip and stain. Most of the time, bonding can be done in one office visit for $300 to $750 per tooth. The shell-like facings known as porcelain veneers can be bonded to stained teeth. In addition to whitening, they are used to reshape and/or lengthen teeth. Veneers cost between $700 and $1,200 per tooth and require at least two visits to the dentist. ###