Teeth whitening has gradually increased in popularity since the 1980s when whitening products first became commercialized. Today, with Instagram and Tik Tok selfies taking over our lives everyone is constantly asking how to brighten their smiles. Special events such as graduations, weddings, reunions, or even date night have patients searching for a quick, single day whitening solution. Let’s discuss some of the different options you have for teeth whitening as well as some of the effects of teeth whitening that you should be conscious of.
Teeth Whitening Options
Depending on your financial circumstance and the time frame your looking at, your dentist can recommend different teeth whitening options specific to your needs. Below are three popular options:
- Over-the-counter Strips: There are many affordable whitening strips that can help you whiten teeth on a budget. They are effective if used consistently for the amount of time directed on the packaging. The only drawback is that they are not custom fitted to your teeth shapes and sizes. There may be crevices, specifically in between the teeth, that are not whitened because the strip doesn’t reach those areas well. Unfortunately, these contact areas are often spots that catch the most stain.
- Take Home Kits: These are custom-made trays from impressions of your teeth that the dentist makes in the office. Syringes of bleaching gel are provided for you to take home with the trays. The gel is placed in a thin ribbon in the tray, and the trays are worn anywhere from 45min to 2 hours allowing the gel to coat your teeth. You have the option to pick from different concentrations of bleaching solution to fit your specific needs. For example, patients that are more sensitive may opt for a weaker bleaching solution, while those without sensitivity may choose the strongest concentration. This process, like whitening strips, takes up to about two weeks to see results. However, this provides the most long-term whitening when done effectively and can last up to 6 months.
- In-Office Teeth Whitening: The in-office whitening treatment is perfect if you’re looking for a quick whitening session before a big event. It takes about two hours, and the results are immediate. Only your dentist or her assistant can do this, and it involves having whitening gel on your teeth while you rest under a blue light. If you choose this method, remember that the results won’t last long unless you also do at-home whitening in conjunction with it. We always provide patients with bleaching trays and take-home gel after every in-office session.
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A Few Things to Note About Teeth Whitening
Although teeth whitening may seem like a quick and easy way to add a touch of shine to your teeth, it’s important that you also be conscious of certain risk factors associated with it.
- Overuse or incorrect use: There is a common misconception among people that the more often they whiten their teeth, the whiter their teeth will be. However, the reality is that if you overuse this product, you will thin your enamel and irritate the nerves in your teeth, which can lead to life-long sensitivity. So, refrain from whitening daily and reserve it for something you do every six months if needed.
- Increased tooth sensitivity: Whitening is essentially exposing your teeth to an acidic solution, so even when done correctly, it can lead to tooth sensitivity. We always recommend patients to brush with Sensodyne toothpaste consistently for two weeks prior to starting any whitening treatment. This helps to block the tubules in your teeth and prevent the whitening solution from excessively irritating your nerves. If you know you have sensitive teeth, you can talk to your dentist about doing Fluoride treatments to help strengthen the enamel while whitening.
- Further damage to already damaged teeth: If you have cavities, weak enamel, or any form of gum disease, there is a chance that using a teeth whitening product could cause further damage. It’s important to keep in mind that teeth that have fillings or dental crowns cannot be whitened. Unfortunately, this can cause these restorations to stand out if they were color matched to your teeth when they were darker.
- Uneven whitening when using teeth whitening strips: If you opt to use teeth whitening strips, you may notice uneven whitening results. There are some teeth whitening strips that are not big enough to cover every tooth. In fact, many teeth whitening strips stop just short of your premolars. If you don’t apply these strips correctly, there may be a difference in the color of your teeth after your treatment.
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As you can see, there are many options when it comes to whitening your teeth. It’s always recommended that you visit an experienced dentist in Tarzana first before making any decisions. Our team can review all your options with you and find out which one is best for you. Contact our office today to make an appointment!