I have yet to meet a patient who does not want whiter teeth. While people do not want fake white teeth for the most part, I feel that tooth whitening is not used as often as it should be to make people love their smiles more as well as to help people maintain their smiles. To understand whitening, I want to explain the different types of whitening, the time commitment for whitening, and the benefits of whitening besides whiter teeth.
Types of Teeth Whitening
Whitening comes in four different types: toothpaste, over the counter strips, in office bleaching, and custom fitted trays. Many people are familiar with whitening toothpaste which is my least favorite way of whitening teeth. Generally these toothpastes are very abrasive to teeth which is how they whiten and this abrasiveness can irritate the teeth. It is much like cleaning your hands daily with a brilo pad: it’ll clean your hands well, but you will rub your hands raw. The second way is with over the counter strips such as crest whitening strips. These work well but they are inconsistent because they depend on perfect placement onto the teeth. This not only can lead to uneven whitening but also can irritate the gums quite a bit if misplaced. In office whitening is the next most popular option which many people prefer because it is quicker than take home whitening. The in office whitening is effective but it is more expensive than custom fitted trays because it requires more expensive materials. My personal favorite way of whitening is to create custom fitted trays for my patients and give them whitening that they can use daily to whiten the teeth. I like this way the easiest and least expensive way to make teeth white and to maintain the whiteness.
How it Works
When doing whitening, it is a combination of time whitening gel is in contact with the teeth as how strong the whitening gel is. Whitening gel is either made from carbomide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide and the concentration of the gel varies between 10 percent to 50 percent. The carbomide peroxide does not expire as quickly as hydrogen peroxide but it is also weaker than the hydrogen peroxide. As a rule of thumb, using the carbomide peroxide at 10% strength for 8 hours each night for one month gives a similar whitening as one in office visit with 45% hydrogen peroxide and in that time period you can get 4 shades whiter. The stronger the whitening gel and the longer it is applied the higher the risk for sensitivity. I personally prefer prescribing the lowest concentration of whitening which is 10% carbomide peroxide, and it is what I use myself. This gel rarely causes sensitivity which allows patients to whiten for as many months as they desire to get to the white level that they want. For people who want whitening quicker but have had bad experiences with sensitivity in the past, I will recommend Kor take home whitening kit. Kor is a wonderful whitening system, and we have been able to get a similar amount of whitening as one in office treatment in one night. However, the kit is approximately four times as expensive as the regular take home trays as the whitening gel and trays are four times as expensive. After the whitening level desired is achieved, maintaining it is key to getting a successful result. Much like you cannot detail your car and expect it to stay beautiful without regular car washes, you will need to re-whiten your teeth periodically. For how often you need to apply will depend
on your what you eat and drink. If you stain your teeth heavily by drinking red wine and coffee or smoking, then you will need to whiten weekly to keep the teeth white. For many people, whitening once per month keeps the teeth to where they need to be.
Benefits of Teeth Whitening
Finally, besides keeping teeth white, I find that there are other great benefits to whitening. Regular application of whitening gels to the teeth helps prevent cavities. For my patients who get a new cavity every 6 months, I recommend the whitening once every 2 weeks as it kills the bacteria which causes cavities but also helps keep the acid level of the mouth at a healthy level to prevent the teeth from breaking down. It also helps kill bacteria that is associated with gingivitis although it cannot help with periodontitis (gum disease in the bone). For my patients who are unable to properly brush their teeth either due to physical problems or old age, the whitening helps them and their care takers keep their mouths healthy so that difficult cavities don’t start. Also for people who have dental restorations such as fillings and crowns that show in the smile, whitening on a regular basis keeps the teeth the same color as the restorations so that they don’t appear to be too white compared to the natural teeth.
Teeth Whitening in Gretna, LA
Tooth whitening is a process that works well for many people. For people who want whiter teeth, it is an effective and non-invasive way to get the smile they want compared to using crowns or veneers. Also it can easily be maintained throughout a person’s life so that they can enjoy their smile. For my patients who struggle with cavities, whitening makes the teeth and mouth cleaner and stronger against the bacteria that causes the most common of dental infections. If you aren’t happy with the color of your teeth and feel that whitening is right for you, call us at NOLA Dentures and General Dentistry and we will help you out.