There is nothing like walking into a room and lighting it up with a big, bright, glorious white smile. But that’s a lot easier said than done. Little did you know, your teeth are going through a battle every day. A battle against your morning coffee or tea, mid day chocolate snack, and late night glass of cabernet. A battle that makes your bright glorious smile into a dim candle.
You might be wondering, how your teeth become a little discolored throughout time. There are two types of staining. The first is superficial or extrinsic staining, the second are stains that has effected deeper layers of the tooth or intrinsic staining. The extrinsic stains are easier to manage. You can clear off the daily buildup of staining simply by brushing twice a day and visiting your hygienist. The intrinsic staining, brought upon by months of tooth exposure to staining products, is a bit more challenging to take care of.
Enter tooth whitening.
How most whitening products work is through the mechanism of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. This is an oxidizing agent that reacts with the aspects of the tooth have been stained and makes those areas look whiter.
There are many different tooth whitening options, and figuring out which one is the right option for you can feel like trying to discover a new electric powered propulsion mechanism for a commercial space shuttle to Mars. Luckily we have broken it down!
Over the counter whitening kits: These can include whitening strips, trays, gels and rinses. These options usually have between 3% – 8% hydrogen peroxide as their active ingredient. The good news is that they are relatively cheap and convenient to get, by just having to walk to your local drug store. The not so good part is that these kits take a long time to take effect and only whiten a few shades lighter. This is simply because of their lower concentration of the active ingredient.
Dentist prescribed take home whitening: This method involves application of a whitening gel with a higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide. The gel is applied to custom tray made by your dentist, worn for a select time at home. Because of the higher concentration of the active ingredient, the whitening effects can be seen much sooner (typically in a week) and with the ability to go many shades whiter.
In office whitening: This option is fastest and most effective method of whitening your teeth. It involved the application of a hydrogen peroxide gel, and incorporation of a special light that penetrates the gel and breaks up the staining in deep layers of the tooth. The procedure takes about an hour to complete, making it the most efficient. By having your dentist complete your procedure, it’s more precise, comfortable and you have better control on the tooth shade you like.
Things to consider
It’s important to note that whitening doesn’t work on existing fillings, crowns or veneers. So when choosing whitening shades it’s important to match the shade of any previous work you might have had done.
It’s also very common to experience sensitivity when using whitening methods. This is simply because of the deep penetrance of hydrogen peroxide. So if you know you have sensitive teeth, consult with you dentist to tailor your whitening for you personally, to minimize sensitivity. Using sensitivity toothpaste like Sensodyne, containing the active ingredient potassium nitrate, during the same time as whitening has been shown to decrease the sensitivity experienced.
So now you have a helping hand in the battle your teeth go through everyday. Feel free to ask us any questions you might have about tooth whitening!
P.s. If you have discovered a new electric powered propulsion mechanism for a commercial space shuttle to Mars, let us know. That would be pretty cool.