If you’re looking for whiter teeth, you’re in luck. There are more options available than ever, such as over-the-counter products, and at the dentist, there is a teeth whitening solution for everyone, from whitening toothpastes and strips, to traditional, in-office whitening treatments. But how do you choose from this wide selection of teeth whitening systems and products?
Teeth Whitening Systems and Products
Whitening Toothpaste: All toothpaste will help remove surface stains due to their mild abrasives, but specifically whitening toothpastes contain gentle polishing or chemical components that provide additional stain removal. However, whitening toothpastes only remove surface stains and contain no bleach. They can usually lighten the tooth’s color by about one shade.
Over-the-Counter Whitening Strips and Gels: The clear, peroxide-based whitening gel is applied with a brush directly to the surface of your teeth and instructions vary depending on the bleach’s strength. Gel’s initial results will be seen within a few days and the final results last about four months.
Whitening strips are thin, practically invisible strips that are coated with peroxide-based whitening gel. These strips are applied twice daily for 30 minutes over a two-week period. The results of strips last the same length as those of gel.
Whitening Rinses: Whitening mouthwashes are a newer product on the market that also reduce plaque and gum disease. A whitening rinse can contain ingredients like hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth and manufacturers say it will take about 12 weeks to see results from a mouthwash. You simply swish a rinse around in your mouth for 60 seconds before brushing your teeth every day. However, since whitening rinses are only in direct contact with the teeth for such a short time, it has less of an effect than other products.
Tray-Based Tooth Whiteners: Tray tooth whitening systems can be purchased over the counter or from a dentist. They involve filling a mouth guard-like tray with a gel whitening solution containing peroxide bleach and wearing the tray for a few hours a day or through the night. This treatment can last up to four weeks and even longer depending on the degree of discoloration and desired level of whitening.
In-Office Whitening: This is the quickest way to whiten teeth. In-office bleaching applies whitening product directly to the teeth and combines products with heat, a special light or a laser. Results can be seen in 30 to 60 minutes, but for dramatic results you need several appointments. With in-office bleaching, dramatic results will be seen after the first treatment, though this is the most expensive teeth whitening method.