It's hard to imagine anything more attractive than a sparkling, white smile. Yet our teeth rarely stay as white as we'd like without a little help. Fortunately, that help is available at our dental office!
Teeth whitening generally is a safe, effective way to brighten your smile; it's also perhaps the most economical cosmetic dental procedure. And depending on the whitening method you choose, results can be dramatic and quick! However, before our patients begin any bleaching process, we strongly recommend getting your teeth cleaned to make sure tooth discoloration is not the result of an undiagnosed dental condition. Also, experience suggests that bleaching dirty teeth is far less successful than with clean teeth, similar to waxing a dirty car.
Our practice recommends two whitening strategies:
Custom Bleaching Trays
Our patients have had great success with custom-made bleaching trays. A mold of your teeth will be taken and then two thin, flexible plastic trays will be custom-made for you - one for the top and one for the bottom set of teeth. Concentrated, professional-strength peroxide gel is squeezed into each tray and then the tray is placed over your teeth, typically for 30 to 90 minutes a day. These bleaching trays work quickly (2-4 weeks) and protect sensitive gums and tooth-root surfaces better than over-the-counter whitening systems such as whitening strips. You can purchase additional bleach and re-use the trays at any time in the future.
The over-the-counter bleaching systems such as whitening strips also can successfully bleach teeth but take longer because the whitening solution is not as concentrated. This strategy can cause gum irritation resulting from the hydrogen peroxide and can frankly be a bit messy.
In-office whitening offers the fastest results with the most powerful whitening solutions available but we feel this process puts our patients at risk and we do not offer this treatment option. Yes, the patient's gums and tooth-root surfaces would be covered with a protective barrier but our experience indicates that the hydrogen peroxide frequently causes gum irritation, sometimes severe. Often the whitening still requires the patient to use bleaching trays or whitening strips.
We also strongly advise against having whitening solutions applied to your teeth by untrained personnel in shopping malls. We have seen unfortunate complications from this bleaching strategy and consider them unnecessarily risky.
If you have any questions about which whitening method would be best for you, please talk to us first!!!
Caring for Your Whitened Smile
There are lots of things you can do to make sure your whitening results last as long as possible, and this will vary from person to person (six months to two years or even longer). First of all, please maintain your usual, conscientious routine of brushing and flossing every day, and keep up with your regular schedule of professional cleanings at the dental office. Avoid foods and beverages that stain, including red wine, tea and coffee. If you smoke, use your newly whitened teeth as an impetus to quit — a good idea in any event! A minor touch-up every so often, either at home or at the dental office, can keep your smile bright and beautiful for years.