"Help! I want whiter teeth, but don't know what to do."
There are many products and techniques available for patients who want to achieve a brighter smile, and with so many options available, it can be difficult to choose the method that is right for you. But the simple truth is, in order to whiten your teeth, some form of peroxide must be in contact with your enamel for some period of time so that it can penetrate the enamel and whiten the dentin underneath. The system that does that the best will work the best.
Also, almost everyone who whitens will have some degree of sensitivity. Don't believe the claims of "No Sensitivity" from different products. If you already have sensitive teeth it is very important to see us to have that treated prior to starting any whitening program. If your teeth are not sensitive at all, you will probably do fine.
The best way to begin any teeth whitening regimen is to schedule an appointment and talk to us about the differences between whitening systems and products. At Dr. Donovan's we have been whitening teeth for 23 years and are very knowledgeable about all the different options available to you.
In-Office Teeth Whitening
"Wow! 1 or 2 hours in the office and my teeth are whiter!" Sounds great, doesn't it? We have tried several different In-Office Whitening systems ("Zoom", "Zoom2" (as seen on "Extreme Makeover"), "Blue Light", no light). Some patients were happy, but most patients were not happy with the results. Don't be fooled by fancy ads: all light based systems are the same whether they use arc-lights, lasers, blue lights, etc.. The light source simply heats and activates the whitening solution, which is always a concentrated form of peroxide (hydrogen or carbamyl). There is no "magic" light that works better than another.
If you try these systems, there will be some whitening that happens but probably not as much as you wanted. The best results are seen by younger people. Initially your teeth will be dehydrated, which makes them look whiter, but once they rehydrate they will rebound somewhat in color.
You may also see these systems available at the mall, the gym or elsewhere. That is shocking to us at Dr. Donovan's. Do you really think the person at the mall kiosk could be the best resource for whitening your teeth?
We don't offer these systems anymore, because we don't believe this is the most effective way to whiten.
At-Home Teeth Whitening
Professional Tray Whitening
The best way- no doubt about it! Tray bleaching uses custom-made trays and whitening gel only available through your dentist. The whitening gel is placed in trays that fit perfectly over your teeth and left in place for either 1-2 hours or overnight, depending on the system you choose.
It is the best way to keep peroxide in contact with your teeth for an extended period of time which will give you the best results.
Unlike strips(below), this process whitens all your natural teeth and contains ingredients to help with sensitivity. At-home professional tray whitening generally takes ten to 14 days, although you will notice a change in as little as two to four days.
Paint-On Teeth Whiteners
There are many over-the-counter teeth whitening options, and one type of readily accessible whitening product is commonly referred to as “paint-on” teeth whiteners. Paint-on whiteners can be purchased over-the-counter and generally are less expensive and less effective than whitening strips or professional options. Paint-on teeth whiteners consist of a gel that is applied to the tooth using a small brush. Paint-on whitening gel hardens into a film that coats the teeth, and dissolves in the mouth.
Don't waste your time with these useless products. You can often find them at the "Dollar Tree", and you'll get what you pay for.
Teeth Whitening Strips
Teeth whitening strips (Crest White Strips are the most popular) are thin, flexible plastic strips with a thin film of hydrogen peroxide on one side. Whitening strip kits come with two types of strips: strips for the upper teeth and strips for the lower teeth. The whitening agent is applied by placing the strips across your teeth and gently pressing the strips into place to ensure contact with all your teeth. Teeth whitening strips are typically worn for 30 minutes a day, twice a day. The duration of treatment will depend on how white you want your teeth to be. The cost is lower per kit than tray whitening from a dentist but will take much longer because of the lower concentration of peroxide and not being a custom fit.
Strips also work best for young people (under 25). Teenagers can often get very good results. These kits are available at most drug and grocery stores as well as Costco.
One patient of ours used "White Strips" every day for more than nine months to reach the color she desired. We didn't have the heart to tell her that she spent more on all the kits she bought than she would have on a whitening system from us. And she would have reached that color in about 2 weeks.
Whitening Toothpaste and Mouthwash
The least expensive options are whitening toothpastes and mouthwashes. Designed to have “whitening” capabilities, toothpastes and mouthwashes work to remove surface stains using mild abrasives. However, unlike the materials used in professional whitening procedures, these products do not lighten the actual color shade of the tooth. Whitening toothpastes affect surface stains and will mildly lighten your teeth.
If you would like to learn more about teeth whitening, please contact our practice to schedule an appointment.