Whiter teeth is something almost everyone wants. These days, our diet is full of products that can stain teeth and cause them to become dull and yellow. There are thousands of products and programs available that claim to be able to whiten teeth, but which ones actually work? Are some more effective than others?
In this article, you’re going to learn about some of the various ways you can whiten your teeth, and how you can avoid being scammed by companies that are selling ineffective products. I’m also going to tell you how you can keep your teeth from getting darker, and how you can keep them white once you have used a whitening method.
- 1 Tooth Paste
- 2 Commercial Home Whitening Kits
- 3 In-Office Whitening
- 4 Laser Teeth Whitening
- 5 Bleaching
- 6 Risk assoicaited with Whitening your Teeth
- 7 Tips to Help Keep Teeth White
There are many types of toothpaste on the market that claim to be able to whiten teeth, but are any of them effective?
Unfortunately, most of the type of toothpaste available on the market cannot whiten teeth beyond their normal shade, simply because they aren’t on the teeth long enough to do so. Even those that contain hydrogen peroxide or other chemicals can do very little in the time it takes to brush teeth.
They can keep your teeth clean and remove plaque, which can indeed make teeth a bit whiter, but you don’t need to spend extra money for special “whitening” types of toothpaste, because pretty much any type of toothpaste can have the same effect.
I would avoid whitening toothpaste and just stick to a high-quality toothpaste that has tartar control and comes with an ADA seal of approval. This will keep teeth clean and healthy.
Commercial Home Whitening Kits
Home whitening kits have become very popular in recent years. They can cost anywhere from $25 for low-end kits all the way up to several hundred bucks for high-end kits.
The cheaper kits that you can buy are not generally very effective. They typically contain hydrogen peroxide based gel or paste that must be placed on the teeth with strips or with plastic molds. They can be mildly effective, but teeth usually can’t be whitened more than a shade.
More expensive kits must be purchased from a dentist, and they can be a bit more effective, but they generally only whiten 2-3 shades. While this can be noticeable, most people are not happy with the level of whitening they achieve from home kits.
Getting your teeth whitened in a dentist’s office is more expensive, but it is typically vastly more effective. There is only so much you can do at home, because kits must be kept as safe as possible for the average consumer.
There are two types of whitening that can be done in a dentist’s office. The first type is the same type that can be done at home, but when done by a dentist or trained technician, it can be much more effective. Dentists can use a much higher concentration of peroxide, because they are trained to protect teeth, and they can be trusted to perform the whitening properly.
Home kits have to have a much lower concentration, because consumers are not trained to use higher concentrations. If you leave the product on your teeth too long, it can damage gums or teeth.
Cost of Professional Teeth Whitening
The cost of professional whitening varies based on where you live, which system is used, and which dentist you see. Standard whitening generally costs between $300 and $700, and laser whitening may cost as much as $2,000. The cost is generally not covered by dental insurance, because it is considered purely cosmetic.
Some dentists will allow you to make payments. There are also companies that specialize in financing cosmetic dental procedures. They can help you afford the treatments, even if your dentist won’t offer financing directly.
Laser Teeth Whitening
Another type of whitening is laser tooth whitening. In this method, a peroxide-based gel is applied to teeth, and then the gel is activated by using a specific type of laser. This cannot be done at home, because the laser can cause severe damage to gums, lips, tongue, and other parts of the mouth if not properly protected.
Laser whitening is by far the most effective tooth whitening method available, whitening up to ten shades in just one hour! It is also extremely expensive, but if you’re looking for the whitest teeth possible, laser whitening is definitely going to be your best option.
The term “bleaching” can only be used in the United States if the teeth can be whitened beyond their natural color. The teeth have a particular level of whiteness that occurs naturally in healthy teeth, and the only way to get teeth that are whiter is to use chemicals or other commercial methods.
Bleaching refers to using a chemical such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamine peroxide to whiten the teeth. Most types of tooth whitening use some form of peroxide for whitening, but the concentration must be very high in order to be considered bleaching, because only very high concentrations can whiten teeth beyond their natural shade.
Hydrogen peroxide works much faster than carbamide, and concentrations are usually 9% to 40%. This is usually done only in dentist’s offices, because of the danger of using such high concentrations.
Home kits usually use carbamide. It works slower, with concentrations around 15%. A 15% concentration of hydrogen peroxide is equivalent to a 5% concentration of hydrogen peroxide. While carbamide peroxide is slower, it is also much safer to use. This is why it is usually used in home whitening kits instead of hydrogen peroxide.
Can you whiten teeth with regular hydrogen peroxide?
A lot of people want to know if they can just purchase hydrogen peroxide in the store and use it to whiten their teeth. Yes, it is possible to do this. You can whiten teeth slightly using regular hydrogen peroxide. But you must consider the fact that the peroxide you can buy in a bottle is a very low concentration, thus it won’t be as effective as products made specifically for the purpose.
Also, you will have to keep the peroxide in your mouth for quite a while in order for it to be effective. This could become very frustrating, and may also irritate your gums, tongue, and other parts of your mouth.
It’s a better idea to buy products that are specifically designed to whiten teeth. This is safer, and will generally be much more effective and will work much faster.
Risk assoicaited with Whitening your Teeth
There are a few risks you should be aware of before you decide to whiten your teeth. Most of these are minor, but you need to be aware of them, anyway.
- Sensitivity – Many types of whitening can cause your teeth to become sensitive to pressure, touch, and temperature for a while after the procedure, especially at higher concentrations. If you have cracks or chips in your teeth, this is much more likely. It usually lasts only a day or two, but may occasionally last longer.
- Gum Irritation – More than 50% of people who use peroxide to whiten their teeth experience some gum irritation for a few days after the procedure.
- Oddly Colored Teeth – If you have some types of restorations like bonding, crowns, or veneers, you may end up with teeth that are spotty. These restorations can’t be bleached, so they may end up darker or lighter than your teeth.
Once you have had your teeth whitened, you need to maintain their color as long as possible so you won’t have to go back for another procedure too quickly.
Tips to Help Keep Teeth White
Here are some tips you can use to keep your teeth from getting darker, and to keep teeth white after a whitening procedure:
- Make sure to follow your dentist’s directions after the cleaning. You will probably not be allowed any colored foods or beverages for a few days.
- Avoid dark foods like tomato sauces for at least one week.
- Cut out dark-colored beverages like coffee, red wine, and dark colas, or drink them with a straw.
- Make sure you brush your teeth and floss after every meal, and again at bedtime to keep away plaque and stains.
I know it may be difficult to avoid dark foods and drinks, but it is very necessary. Whenever you do indulge, try to keep food back behind your teeth by using a straw and by chewing with your back teeth instead of the front.
Some items to avoid or limit for whiter Teeth:
- Blueberries, blackberries, and other fruits that can stain skin or clothing. They will also stain teeth!
- Coffee, tea, red wine, dark cola, Kool-Aid, and other dark or brightly-colored beverages.
- Tomato sauce and other sauces that are brightly colored.
- Condiments that stain, such as mustard and ketchup.
As a general rule of thumb, avoid anything that will stain clothing or skin. If it stains clothing or skin, it will probably also stain teeth.
“an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”
Remember, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Keeping your teeth white is much more effective than any whitening procedure! Plus, it’s a lot cheaper to keep your teeth white than to pay hundreds of dollars for commercial or professional whitening.