There are lots of different teeth whitening methods on the market, and the choice can seem a bit overwhelming. This is a quick overview of the most popular methods of teeth whitening procedures, but there are a couple of important things to remember.
Teeth whitening products should only ever be used on a healthy mouth, so it is always best to see your dentist for a full check-up beforehand, even if you intend using an over-the-counter whitening kit. Book a professional cleaning at the same time, as this will remove all the tarter from your teeth, and will slightly whiten them. If you have any fillings or other types of restorations such as veneers, crowns or bridges, then teeth whitening products will not affect them. You could end up with a mouth full of differently coloured teeth, or you will need to budget to have them replaced after you have finished whitening (it is better to have your teeth whitened first as it is far easier to match new crowns to whitened teeth, rather than the other way around).
Lots of people use whitening toothpastes on a daily basis as they are generally perfectly safe. They will have a minimal effect on your teeth, as they simply remove surface stains through a slightly abrasive action. They don’t contain any bleach, and cannot lighten teeth beyond their natural shade.
Whitening mouthwashes do contain a small amount of bleach, but have a limited effect because the rinse is in contact with the teeth for such a short period of time. If possible choose a rinse that contains fluoride or an antibacterial agent to maximise the efficacy of the rinse on oral health.
Whitening Strips and Gels
Whitening strips are very popular, and are thin, almost invisible strips that are coated with a peroxide gel. They can be applied twice a day for two weeks, and the results should be visible within a few days. The whitening effects should last a few months.
Whitening gels are peroxide gels applied directly to the surface of the teeth, generally twice a day for two weeks. Results are very similar to whitening strips.
Whitening trays can be bought over-the-counter, or can be custom made by your dentist. They are filled with a peroxide based gel that is left in the mouth for a specific length of time. It is better to have them custom-made, as the fit will be a lot more accurate and comfortable, and the gel is less likely to leak out during use. If you do want to purchase ready-made trays then choose the best quality you can find for better results and safer whitening, as the gel will be less likely to leak out onto the gum tissues and irritate them.
Teeth Whitening in Your Dental Surgery
This type of teeth whitening will give the fastest results, and is best if you need your teeth whitened quickly for a special event. This method is also the most expensive. Afterwards your dentist may provide you with custom-made trays to continue bleaching at home and for use during top-up treatments.
All these methods have their benefits and disadvantages, and none will whiten teeth permanently. Eventually the teeth will return to their natural colour if the whitening treatments are not regularly topped up. It is vitally important not to over-use any of these methods of whitening as they could weaken your teeth. Over-whitening does not produce brighter results, but does leach out all the natural colour of the teeth, making them appear slightly grey. Teeth whitening can cause sensitivity, so if you already have sensitive teeth you may be better of whitening your teeth slowly with a weaker bleaching gel.