It might be your child’s wedding or a class reunion, or perhaps you’re noticing that all your friends have really bright teeth. Whatever the reason, the desire for a brighter smile is an important part of looking your best. Teeth whitening options are one of the most common questions that patients seem to ask about during their appointments.
Teeth whitening is most effective if the teeth have darkened over time from coffee, tea, red wine, dark pigmented foods or smoking/tobacco use. Teeth that have developmental discoloration may not respond as well, or as much to whitening procedure. If you have very sensitive teeth, periodontal (gum) disease or teeth with worn enamel and or large amounts of exposed dentin, you might experience some sensitivity with whitening products and need to limit your use of whitening products.
What Are The Options?
It’s important to have a thorough dental exam and consultation with our office, before embarking on any of the bleaching options. The three current teeth whitening options are:
- Over-the-Counter Whitening Products
- In-Dental Office Whitening
- Custom Whitening Trays
Over-the-Counter Whitening Products
Some patients achieve their desired amount of whitening with Over the Counter Whitening Products. If you choose this route, please select a product that has the ADA (American Dental Association) Seal of Approval; such as the Crest White Strips. There are many whitening products which lack the research and safety record that the ADA requires before putting their Seal of Approval on a product. Aside from some temporary and mild temperature sensitivity on patients with moderate to advanced recession, there have been minimal to no other problems for patients who have properly used ADA Approved over-the-counter whitening products. You will need to check at the store, but the typical cost is somewhere around $45 – $70.
The lower concentration of whitening agent in over-the-counter whitening products may either limit the amount of whitening possible, or result in much longer use of the product (additional cost) to achieve the desired effect. We will be happy to discuss either of the in-office whitening options if you seek a more predictable and faster result.
In-Dental Office Bleaching
We offer a fast, safe, comfortable and effective way to whiten your teeth during an approximate 30 minute appointment at our office. The patented pre-filled silicone trays allow your jaws to remain relaxed and comfortable throughout the appointment. This procedure includes the use of an LED accelerating light that helps to activate the gel’s whitening ingredients at a faster rate, resulting in a brighter smile in less time. As part of your procedure, you will also receive a take-home maintenance pen to further extend your new brighter smile.
The number of needed treatments will vary based on the amount of stain and color preference and on-going whitening treatments are recommended to maintain your whitened teeth. For best results, it is helpful to complete the procedure on the same day as your cleaning appointment. The cost of the In-Office Whitening procedure is approximately $125 and is a great option for anybody who is wanting to quickly whiten and brighten their smile.
Custom Whitening Trays
We typically start by taking upper and lower impressions of your teeth. We then fabricate custom made whitening trays which will be designed to hold the whitening gel against your teeth and away from the gum and root surfaces of your teeth. We also provide you with the whitening gel that goes inside the trays and you would then be asked to wear the whitening trays for 30-60 minutes a day (at home) for up to two weeks or until the desired level of whitening has been achieved. The effects are gradual and the results are longer lasting. We encourage you to use your whitening trays once or twice a month after that to maintain your whitened smile.
Although a little bit more expensive at first, this is a great option for maintaining your brightened smile. The cost for the custom whitening trays is about $250 ($150 for the first arch and $100 for the second arch). The first month supply of the whitening gel is included with the custom trays and you can purchase additional whitening gel when you run out for approximately $45.
How does it works and is it safe?
The active ingredient in most of whitening agents is carbamide peroxide. When water comes into contact with this crystal, the release of hydrogen peroxide helps remove extrinsic stains and lighten the teeth. There is no damage to the tooth structure and the effect is only on the stains on the surface of the teeth.
Multiple studies and the 20+ years of routine clinical use have proven whitening to be safe and effective. Other than some possible minor and reversible initial temperature sensitivity, no other side effects or problems have been reported when patients use the product as recommended.
No one can predict the exact amount of lightening that each patient will experience, since every patient and case is different. The success rate depends upon the type of stain involved, the type of whitening procedure and your compliance. Whitening can only provide a shift in color from a gray, yellow or white, to a lighter shade of gray, yellow or white. Whitening products do not lighten fillings, crowns or veneers and you should be careful to not over-lighten your teeth beyond your existing crowns; unless you are also considering replacing or lightening those restorations as well.
Whitening is most effective and the results most noticeable in adults. Teens or younger people who haven’t had a large amount of stains built up on their teeth may not really receive a noticeable result and are sometimes discouraged from the procedure.