When you work in a dental office, you often get asked about teeth whitening. Should I have my teeth professionally whitened? Are there negative side effects? What about whitening toothpaste? No matter your question, the most important information I can share here is that the answer will vary for each person. Not all smiles are the same.
For some, simply using a whitening toothpaste will give them the results they are looking for. We on average, see 1 shade lighter, less stain built up and a fresher look to the smile. We do not recommend toothpastes that have baking soda in them, as it is too abrasive and can scratch the teeth. Scratches will pick up more stain over time, but most importantly, the teeth can become sensitive, especially along the gum line areas.
There are bleach strips on the market – over the counter. These are applied like a band aid to the teeth and stick on them for about 30 minutes. We see about 1- 2 bleaching shade improvements with these. We have patients who did not want to invest a lot of money use these and were happy with the results.
Some people will see a big improvement from home bleaching trays. We generally see 2 – 4 shades of improvement. We have the ability to make patients custom trays and give them professional bleaching solution to use in the trays. Patients are able to touch up periodically if they see that the teeth are not as bright over time.
Zoom bleaching is an in office bleaching system. We use a bright light ( similar to tanning bed light) to intensify the bleaching solution under supervision of the dentist and dental assistant. While you are here, we are able to make custom trays and solution for them is dispensed for the patient to touch up as needed. This is the type of bleaching that is the most effective. We average about 8 shades of improvement. This is also the most costly but most long lasting type of bleaching.
If you decide to whiten your teeth, be sure to avoid negating your efforts. Avoid things like tobacco, coffee and red wine which can cause staining. Need that caffeine fix in the morning? Try using a straw to reduce contact with the front of your teeth. Also, keep in mind that staining takes time to set in: brush or rinse immediately after consuming a stain causing food or drink to keep your teeth white.
And remember, good oral hygiene practices are the best way to whiten your smile. White teeth may be attractive, but healthy teeth last. That means daily brushing and flossing, regular dental visits and a healthy diet.