So You Want Whiter Teeth?

white teeth

Who doesn’t like that dazzling white smile? Teeth whitening is one of the most needed dental procedures every year, and Americans spend nearly $2 billion every year to keep their smiles bright. Over time, drinking coffee, red wine, smoking and certain drugs such as tetracycline will stain our teeth. If you want to modify your smile, there are many options. Here are some tips to help you choose the best tooth whitener for you!

How does Teeth Whitening Work?

Whitening of teeth is a process that makes teeth look whiter. There are bleached and non-bleached whitening products available. The terms “bleaching” and “whitening” are often used interchangeably, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stipulates that the term “bleaching” can only be used when the product contains bleaching agents. Whereas when the product removes food or debris from the teeth without bleaching then it is considered as simple “whitening”.

What’s in Bleaching Products?

Bleaching products contain peroxides (hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide). These products can remove surface stains and deep stains on teeth, and may make teeth look lighter than their natural color. The active ingredient in tooth whiteners available from dentists or pharmacies is peroxide (hydrogen or urea). Hydrogen peroxide is the actual bleaching agent, while carbamide peroxide decomposes into hydrogen peroxide. 

The bleaching products that you get from the dentist are much more powerful than the bleaching products bought over the counter. The brighteners used by dentists may contain as much as 35% to 45% peroxide, while store-bought brighteners (such as whitening strips or trays) usually have only 7% peroxide. Other ingredients in whiteners and OTC whiteners distributed by dentists include glycerin, carbomer, sodium hydroxide, and flavoring agents. 

Let the Dentist do the Whitening

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that if you choose to bleach your teeth then it is always advised to consult your dentist first. The dentist can provide you with the best whitening options and supervise the treatment plan to avoid complications. Professional whitening can be done in a dentist’s office in about an hour. The process involves using a tooth whitening gel containing 25% to 40% hydrogen peroxide, and then aiming a special heating lamp at your teeth, with three 20-minute intervals, and reapplying the gel between the intervals.

Some dentists may also use lasers, which are reported to accelerate or activate the whitening process. A protective barrier is used during the whitening process to keep your lips, gums, and tongue away from the whitening gel so that it sits on the teeth. For the best results, the dentist will usually provide you with a whitening tray suitable for your teeth so that you can follow up with the bleaching solution at home. 

Whitening At Home

Over-the-counter teeth whitening kits have become popular because they are cheap and easy to use. Compared with whitening products used by dentists, they contain lower peroxide content, but some people may get better results, although it will take more time. OTC whitening kits and products include whitening trays, cleaning strips, mouthwashes, and toothpaste. Prices range from $25 to $100. 

The American Dental Association still recommends whitening under the guidance of a dentist because this is the safest for your tooth enamel. The products used by dentists are also more effective in removing deep stains. If you choose to buy whitening products at a pharmacy then please check the seal of approval from the American College of Dentistry. The ADA seal means that the standard of the product is higher than the standard required by law, and has been evaluated and considered safe and effective.

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