There are three ways that you can whiten your teeth:
•In-office bleaching, supplemented with,
The first thing you should do before whitening your teeth is talk to your dentist. He or she will be able to help you decide the best option for you. Whiteners will not fix all kinds of stains. Also, if you have bonding or tooth-colored fillings, these will not be affected by whiteners and they may stand out if you whiten your teeth. Remember that using a whitener does not make your mouth healthier.
This kind of whitening, called “chairside bleaching,” is done in your dentist’s office. It may require more than one office visit. Each visit may take from 1 to 2 hours. During chairside bleaching, the dentist puts a whitener on the teeth and uses a special light to make the whitener work. Lasers are sometimes used during tooth whitening to make the whitening agent work better.
There are a few different products that can be used to whiten teeth at home. Some come from your dentist, and others can be bought over-the-counter. These contain peroxide(s), which bleach the tooth enamel. Most come in a gel and are placed in a mouth tray that fits over your teeth. These gels are designed to help many types of staining. Only the dentist-dispensed solutions have the American Dental Association (ADA) seal.
Other over-the-counter whitening products include whitening strips, paint-on products, gels, and trays are available with a low amount of peroxide. For better results, have a cleaning at the dentist before you use these products. These gels and trays do not have the ADA seal.
All toothpastes help remove surface stains through mild abrasives. “Whitening” toothpastes that have the ADA seal have special polishing agents or chemicals that remove even more stains. Unlike bleaches, these products do not change the actual color of teeth. They help remove surface stains only.
A small disclaimer is that these products can make your teeth temporarily more sensitive. They can also bother your gums. These side effects most often go away after you stop using the product.
Novy Scheinfeld, DDS, PC
290 Carpenter Drive, 200A
Atlanta (Sandy Springs), GA 30328