This time of year many people are focused on looking their best; some individuals tan, some have spent many hours in the gym preparing for swimsuit season, and some want white, shiny teeth. Tooth discoloration most commonly occurs due to aging, stained fillings, and dietary habits. People can reverse tooth discoloration with the help of a dentist. Dental whitening is accomplished in a variety of ways ranging from purchasing ready-made strips from the drugstore to scheduling a laser whitening procedure by your dental professional. The most popular methods are reviewed below.
White Strips are an over-the-counter whitening option many individuals have heard of or used in the past. These strips are easy to apply, simple to use and convenient. Depending on the concentration of whitening agents in the strips, the patient can have whiter teeth within minutes.
Here are some of the disadvantages of white strips. The effects only last for a few months and then an entire new kit needs to be purchased – the costs of which, when calculated over time, can add up quickly! Whitening strips when purchased from a drug store, require more time to achieve the desired whitened shade. Additionally, dental white strips will not be as effective for patients who have crowded teeth.
Hogan Family Dental offers professional strength white strips which are readily available for purchase for quick-on-the-go touchups. The concentration of whitening solution in white strips that a dentist can offer is usually far higher than what can be purchased at a drug store.
Whitening Toothpastes have limited, short-term effects because they tend to use abrasive ingredients to remove stain. Many times the abrasive nature of these toothpastes is greater than regular toothpastes. Regular use of whitening toothpastes over a longer period of time will damage natural tooth surfaces (enamel) and dental restorations. In addition, whitening toothpastes may provide a gentle polish and chemical chelation process. This may make the teeth appear lighter for a brief period of time, but with the next sip of coffee or tea, the staining process will begin again.
Whitening Trays are a very popular means to whiten the teeth on a consistent basis in the comfort of a patient’s home. We highly recommend that a patient have custom trays fabricated by their dentist to maximize the effectiveness of this procedure.
Whitening trays at Hogan Family Dental are fabricated by taking an impression of your teeth and then creating custom fit trays that fit your mouth specifically. A whitening gel is applied to the interior of the tray and the tray is inserted into the mouth for only 5 minutes. We recommend using the trays for two weeks for maximum effectiveness or less time if ideal results are achieved.
If you experience sensitivity take a break from whitening for a few days and resume when your sensitivity has dissipated. Using desensitizing or sensitive toothpaste two weeks prior to beginning a whitening regimen is also very useful. Because the trays are custom fabricated to your teeth, you will receive the maximum benefit and most consistent outcome compared to other at-home whitening options.
Laser Whitening is a clinical option that is offered in a dental office by a dental professional with the use of a whitening solution and laser energy. This treatment can be provided within 30-60 minutes depending if one or both arches are whitened. The benefit of this treatment is that it is quick and effective and does not require weeks of use of whitening trays.
This procedure may create sensitivity for your teeth. A desensitizing gel is provided from our office. Additionally, you may wish to incorporate a brand of sensitive toothpaste into your regular home care routine before and after you have this clinical procedure to reduce sensitivity.
At times, a patient may have one tooth or a few teeth that are more discolored than others. The benefit of laser whitening is that you can easily target a few teeth with very quick results to create a harmonious look within the dental arch.
Laser whitening will still require touch-ups. Our office recommends the use of custom whitening trays as a “touch up” method to maintain the preferred shade on an as-needed basis.
Most whitening products include hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide as the active ingredient and do not damage the tooth surface, except some of the abrasive toothpastes as aforementioned. Some dental stains including stain from metals will be very difficult to treat with whitening products and may require dental veneers or crowns to completely address the discoloration.
Each individual has their own story when it comes to dental staining and why it is there. Feel free to discuss your concerns regarding tooth discoloration with your dentist to determine which whitening option is best for you and the type of dental stain you may have. In addition, a dental cleaning by your dental hygienist or dentist is also a great place to start because they can remove any stain that may be present on your teeth from coffee, tea, smoking or oral rinses prior to dental whitening procedures.
Continued Whitening Care
Please note that with ANY of the dental whitening procedures, a touch-up to maintain your desired shade is required. Visit with your dentist about what would be the best method for you for additional touch-ups over time. Your dentist will always recommend to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for tooth whitening to have a comfortable and effective whitening treatment.
Before You Whiten
A recent dental exam is highly recommended before proceeding with any type of whitening procedure. At this dental exam, please advise your dentist if you want to lighten your teeth. Your dentist will complete a comprehensive examination of your teeth, gums and jaw. If your evaluation results in the need for treatment of dental decay, you may wish to have this addressed prior to completing whitening treatment. Sometimes, however, whitening is recommended prior to doing any fillings, crowns, bridges or partial dentures, in order to attain the best possible color match over all.
*Teeth Whitening Special is valid only for specific dates and only on specific whitening services provided at Hogan Family Dental. To learn more, please call our office.