Instead of just dreaming, this year you can do something about it! Did you know that whitening your teeth is the quickest and most conservative way to improve your smile? Maximum results of take-home teeth whitening are usually seen within 14 days, so if you start now, you will have a bright, white smile just in time for Christmas.
The most common stains affecting teeth are external stains caused by the things we eat and drink or the use of tobacco products. The bad news is that if you continue in those habits, the teeth will continue staining. But we won’t tell you to give up your coffee or red wine. The good news is that external stains are the easiest to whiten.
The Difference Between Polishing and Whitening
Polishing – External stains can be lightened a bit by a professional teeth cleaning where the teeth are polished by your dental hygienist. They also may improve through the use of a whitening toothpaste. Both of these techniques work by removing superficial stains from the surface of the teeth. This is strictly a mechanical process.
Whitening – Teeth whitening changes the color of a tooth through a chemical process. In teeth whitening, the peroxide compound in whitening gel infiltrates into the enamel of a tooth, causing a chemical reaction that lightens the natural shade of the tooth structure itself.
Types of Whitening
Teeth whitening can be divided into three categories.
- Over-the-counter whitening products – OTC whitening products have a one-size-fits-all approach, like Crest Whitestrips. This is necessary because there is no dentist involved to give you a custom fit. The whitening ingredient is some type of peroxide compound, similar to professional whitening gels, but at a lower concentration. These are fast and easy, and anyone can get started with them right away.
- Custom-fabricated professional take-home products – This is considered the gold standard for teeth whitening. A custom whitening tray is made for you by your dentist from a mold or 3D scan of your teeth. These trays fit the teeth intimately and keep the whitening gel in its appropriate place for optimal results. The trays last for many years, and additional whitening gel can be purchased for refills. There is a variety of whitening gel strengths available, so you can select which concentration best meets your needs and daily routine.
- In-office whitening – For the quickest result, in-office whitening is the answer. In-office whitening (like ZOOM!) use a very high concentration of whitening gel and must be supervised by a dentist. Unfortunately, the fast result is not as predictable and long-lasting as custom tray whitening. It’s a great option for someone with a time crunch, like that high school reunion that snuck up on you or your cousin’s wedding this weekend.
Why Use Professional Whitening Gel?
The benefits of using whitening products from a dentist as opposed to over-the-counter whiteners are threefold. The first reason to opt for a professional whitening gel is that Dr. Ann and Dr. Lauren can guide you to the perfect concentration of gel for your specific whitening goals. The second is that professional whitening gel comes in a wide range of concentrations, with many of them much stronger than what is available over-the-counter. This means you will achieve better results more quickly. The third reason professional custom trays are better is for maintenance of your white smile.
Maintenance of a White Smile
Remember that we promised not to make you give up your coffee and red wine? If you continue the habits that stained your teeth in the first place, you will have to do some maintenance. Once you have reached your whitening goal, which usually happens in the first two weeks, you will need to maintain your white smile by doing maintenance treatments. The custom trays Designer Smiles makes for you are durable and will last for years. When you notice that your white smile may be fading a bit, you can simply use your whitening gel in the custom trays for 2-3 treatments or until you notice the brightness you are aiming for. Some people will require more frequent maintenance based on habits and level of staining. Others will only require maintenance once or twice a year. The great thing about custom tray professional whitening is its flexibility. You can use it as often or as infrequently as you prefer. If you find that one concentration of whitening gel isn’t your favorite, you can switch to a different one while still using your custom trays.
What are the Downsides of Whitening?
Nothing permanent! There are some side effects of teeth whitening, including tooth sensitivity or gum irritation. These will subside when you discontinue whitening. If your teeth are extremely sensitive, tell Dr. Ann and Dr. Lauren. They will be able to guide you to the best concentration of whitening gel and even make adjustments to your trays to keep the gel from reaching particularly sensitive areas.
Are You Looking for a Whiter Smile?
Call Designer Smiles today at 281-667-4010 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ann and Dr. Lauren. They will discuss your whitening options and help you choose the one that’s right for you.