Updated: Oct 4
So You Want Whiter Teeth?
Who doesn't love a dazzling, white smile? Tooth whitening is one of the most requested dental procedures done every year. Over time, drinking coffee, red wine, smoking cigarettes, and simply aging can stain our teeth, as can certain medications such as tetracycline.
If you're looking to spruce up your smile there are many options available. Following are some tips to help you choose the best tooth whitener for you!
How does Teeth Whitening Work?
Tooth "whitening" is defined as any process that will make teeth appear whiter. Often the bleaching products contain peroxide (hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide) and these products remove both surface and deep stains on teeth and can cause teeth to become even lighter than their natural shade.
Whitening by the Dentist
If you choose to bleach your teeth you consult a dentist first. A dentist can come up with the best whitening options for you and supervise a treatment plan to avoid complications. Professional whitening can be done in a dentist's office in about an hour. The procedure involves application of a tooth whitening gel containing between 25% to 40% hydrogen peroxide, and then aiming a special heating lamp at your teeth for three 20-minute intervals, with reapplication of the gel between intervals. Some dentists may also use a laser, which is reported to accelerate or activate the whitening process. A protective barrier is used during the whitening procedure to keep your lips, gums, and tongue away from the whitening gel so it stays in place on your teeth. For optimal results, the dentist will usually give you whitening trays moulded for your teeth so you can follow-up at home with bleaching solutions.
Tooth whitening treatment at a dentist's office can cost about £500 for the light treatment, or £300 for the custom-made trays alone.
Whitening At Home
Online teeth whitening kits have become popular since they are inexpensive and easy to use. They contain lower amounts of peroxide and non - peroxide than the whitening products used by dentists, but some people can have good results though it will take more time. Online whitening kits and products include whitening trays, strips, rinses, and toothpastes.
Prices range from £25 to £100 Teeth Whitening Trays
Teeth whitening trays are one method of whitening your teeth at home. Dentists recommend dentist-dispensed take-home whitening kits because they contain a higher percentage of bleach for better results.
The dentist will take custom moulds of your teeth and create fitted application trays made of flexible plastic. Fitted trays ensure bleach stays in close contact with the teeth for best results, they prevent saliva from diluting the bleach, and they minimize the amount of bleach that can leak out and possibly irritate the gums. Online trays (except in the ZSmile kits) do not fit the teeth precisely, leading to leakage of bleach and sensitive gums.
Tooth bleaching products are either stored in syringes and added to trays before use, or pre-loaded into the trays. A dentist can also adjust the bleach concentration and give you a desensitising agent to use before or after application. Kits often provide enough gel for one two-week treatment per year, plus enough for a few touch-ups in between.
One of the most popular ways to whiten teeth is with teeth whitening strips. These are made from a thin, flexible plastic and coated with a low concentration of bleaching product. The strips are pre-packaged and placed on the teeth, easily conforming to the shape of the teeth. They can be worn while doing other activities, and when the application time is up (usually about 30 minutes) they are discarded.
Most are used daily for two weeks. Strips are more effective than whitening toothpastes. Strips are generally less effective than custom-fitted trays because saliva can seep under the strips and dilute the bleach. Strips may not be long enough for a wide smile.
Most whitening strips are considered safe, as the strength of the peroxide is low. However, be careful to avoid strips that contain chlorine dioxide, which can destroy tooth enamel.
One of the newest products that claims to whiten teeth are whitening rinses. In addition to freshening breath and reducing dental plaque and gum disease, these products also include bleaching agents such as peroxide that whiten teeth. Like mouthwash, just swish them around in your mouth twice daily before brushing, and manufacturers claim you may have to wait 12 weeks to see results.
Some experts believe that the short time the mouthwash is used is not enough to actually see results.
Toothpastes contain mild abrasives such as silica, aluminium oxide, calcium carbonate, and baking soda, which help remove surface stains. Whitening toothpastes do not contain bleach like professional whitening products, but they usually contain extra polishing or chemical agents that can help remove additional surface stains. They do not help with removal of deep-set stains. Whitening toothpastes may also be more abrasive than some dentists would recommend. Most whitening toothpastes can only get your teeth about one shade lighter.
Science Says: The Most Effective Method
Tooth whitening performed by a dentist in surgery is the most effective way to get the best and safest results. Stronger agents are used, but the mouth and gums are protected, and the dentist can customise the concentration of the bleaching agent. Further, a dentist can manage any tooth sensitivity or other issues that may arise from treatment. Teeth may be whitened up to 10 shades in just one hour.
Check out the ZSmile range of Teeth Whitening Products.