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Hate Your Dull, Yellow Teeth?
Your teeth are one of the first features people notice. Healthy, youthful skin, nice hair, and stylish, attractive clothing dont mean a thing if you open your mouth to smile and your teeth look dull, dark or stained.
Teeth age naturally over time, becoming darker, and losing brightness and luminosity. Additionally, years of food, certain beverages and nicotine can stain teeth permanently. Whitening your teeth, however, can take years off your smile.
Whos a Good Gandidate?
Teeth whitening is ideal for people who have healthy teeth and gums. It is not recommended in children under 16, pregnant or lactating women, or those allergic to peroxide.
Yellow-ish hued teeth respond well to bleaching. Brownish and grayish-hued teeth may bleach less well. Bonded and tooth-colored fillings wont bleach.
Therefore, those with grey, darkly stained or visible restored teeth may want to investigate other options, like porcelain veneers, crowns, bonding, or power bleaching. Ask your dentist if you are a good candidate for bleaching.
Many teeth whitening systems are available, with bleaching done either at home or in the dental office.
Whitening toothpastes do not contain a bleaching agent and do not change the intrinsic color of the teeth.
They contain gentle chemical or polishing agents that may effectively remove stains.
Advantage Inexpensive and easy to use.
Disadvantage These toothpastes remove surface stains only and may lighten your teeth by about one shade (which may or may not even be noticeable). They need to be used continually for continued results.
strips and gels
Whitening strips and gels contain a bleaching agent, a clear, peroxide-based gel, that you apply to your teeth, generally twice a day for 14 days. The results last about four months. They can be dispensed by your dentist or purchased over-the-counter.
Advantage The cost is relatively inexpensive, from $15-$55
Disadvantage A little awkward to apply and can get a bit messy. Strips can be difficult to keep in place long enough to get the desired results.
Tray-based tooth whitening
Tray based tooth whitening systems involve filling a mouth guard-like tray with a peroxide based whitening solution. You must wear the tray for a specified period of time a couple of hours a day or sometimes over night. You wear the trays from ten days to four weeks, depending on the degree of staining and the level of whitening you desire.
Advantage Higher concentration of peroxide (from 15%-22%) making them more effective. Can lighten teeth several shades, depending on the brand. Less expensive than in-office chairside bleaching and can be as effective.
Disadvantage More expensive than strips and gels. Increased sensitivity of teeth and gums. Can be time consuming and the mouthguards can be bothersome, especially if worn overnight. Patients must be compliant for the system to be effective.
Chairside in-office bleaching
This is the quickest and most effective way to whiten teeth. A protective gel or rubber shield is used to protect your gums, oral soft tissues, mouth and face. A bleaching agent is then applied directly to the teeth, and a special light, heat or laser is used to accelerate the action of the whitening agent.
The entire procedure is completed in under two hours. Sometimes, for difficult cases and/or more dramatic results, the treatment is sometimes split between two visits.
Advantages Immediate results, requiring only one visit. The dentist is available to make “on the spot” adjustments to minimize discomfort and maximize whitening.
Disadvantages Most expensive method ($600-$900). Increased sensitivity of teeth and gums.