Patients looking to enhance their smile often ask dentists about cosmetic dentistry – procedures such as bonding can help correct gaps, braces can help correct alignment, and veneers can help adjust the size, shape, and color of teeth. While all of these procedures have their uses, one of the cheapest and easiest way to enhance a smile is simple tooth whitening.
There are a wide variety of options available for patients considering tooth whitening. Most use a similar active ingredient – typically hydrogen peroxide – as a bleaching agent to remove stains and provide a shiny white appearance. The nature of the product determines how strong the peroxide product can be – mild products can be used nearly every day, but the strongest whitening products must be used under dental supervision.
Here’s a quick guide to the type of whitening available today:
– Whitening toothpaste is typically low risk, and contain a very mild whitening agent and a polishing agent to help remove stains from the surface of the teeth. They are typically capable of a few shades of whitening, but may take weeks or months to achieve a noticeable whitening change.
– Whitening strips often use a peroxide gel to coat the teeth, and are typically worn for 30 minutes at a time, repeated several times for maximum impact. Strips will work faster and achieve more whitening than toothpaste, but are more time consuming for users.
– Tray based whitening products are available either over the counter or by prescription from your local dentist. These products use a stronger peroxide product, and are typically used at home in longer durations than whitening strips (potentially 60 minutes, but some products may be worn overnight – check with the instructions for details). Because these often have a stronger peroxide gel, they tend to provide a better result than strips, but may be more expensive or require a dentist visit to obtain.
– The most dramatic change will be obtained using in-office whitening procedures, where the dentist can protect the tissue around the teeth and use a much stronger bleaching product. Some of these products are light activated (a UV light or laser will be shone into the patient’s mouth to activate the whitening agent), others are chemical-activated (two gels that are mixed together to activate). The procedure generally takes about an hour, and the dentist will adjust the strength of the product and duration to match the level of staining present on the teeth and the whitening desired by the patient.
If you’re interested in enhancing your smile, talk to your dentist about whitening options. Whether you’re considering strips, trays, or in-office treatments, your dentist can help guide you into making an informed decision, and help set realistic expectations regarding the end result.
Call Dr. Ted Haines DDS for more information on whitening make an appointment today at 360-568-8577 or visit the website at tedhainesdds.com.
Dr. Haines of Snohomish, WA also proudly accepts patients from Monroe, Lake Stevens, Everett, Mill Creek, Woodinville, and surrounding areas.