Types of tooth whitening methods
To get whiter teeth there are many products. You can either go to the
dentist or you can choose an over-the-counter tooth whitening kit. The
dentist either uses power bleaching that can whiten your teeth in about
1 – 2 hours, or customize a clear tray to fit on your teeth. This minimizes
the potential for the whitening chemicals to get on your gums and cause
The over-the-counter products come in a variety of methods. There are
toothpastes with whitening formulas, whitening strips, and paint-on techniques.
In office whitening
This procedure is performed by the dentist. It is called power bleaching
the most popular method available is ZOOM. You get whiter teeth within an hour
or two. Since only dentist and hygienists can do it, it’s considered one of
the safest methods. However there are reports that about 10% of persons experience
discomfort for a few days after procedure. Cost approx: $750.
Some toothpastes come with whitening power. A few of the more popular ones
are Crest Extra whitening (approx. $4) and Colgate total plus whitening (approx.
$4). The results have shown some whitening, although no dramatic results like
in office or take home kits.
There are a few whitening strips in the market, with the most popular being
Crest whitestrips Premium (approx. $40). You can
expect optimal results in about 4 months. Some of the concerns with the strips
are that they are not properly fitted to your teeth and can cause burning of
the gums and ingestion of the product.
Whitening wand or pen
These are easy to use as they only require 1 – 2 minutes to apply. However, the results are not dramatic like the other methods and ingestion is probable.
How does it work?
For take-home whitening, a gel is placed in a thin bleaching tray that is
custom-fitted over your teeth. As the active ingredient in the gel, carbamide
or hydrogen peroxide is broken down; oxygen enters the enamel and dentin and
bleaches the darkened surface. Results are seen within a couple of days and
treatment is completed after 10 to 14 days.
For ZOOM, the procedure is done at our office over the course of about two hours
from start to finish. We use a stronger whitening agent so we isolate the teeth
to be whitened to protect the gums. Then we paint the gel on the teeth and activate
it with a special light. This is repeated twice more.
How long do the results last?
The teeth will always be lighter than they were. However, some people need periodic touch up for 1 or 2 days every year or two, especially if they continue to use staining substances like tobacco, coffee, tea and red wines.
Are there any side effects?
Some people experience temporary tooth sensitivity to cold during treatment. These symptoms usually disappear within 1-3 weeks after completion and there are products to minimize this.
What causes tooth discoloration?
The most common include aging, consumption of staining substances like (coffee, tea, colas, wines, and tobacco), nerve degeneration, and old restorations. During tooth formation, consumption of tetracycline or excessive fluoride may also cause tooth discoloration.