Teeth Whitening: What you should know
All About Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening: What you need to know

Of all the dental cosmetic procedures, teeth whitening is the most popular. This is a procedure that both women and men are interested in and know that they can easily and quickly enhance their smile. This is because teeth whitening treatments easily fit their budget, temperament and time frame. Teeth whitening can also be done in so many ways. The procedure can be in a dentist’s office or home using teeth whitening kits available both by the dentist and OTC. There are lots of teeth whitening products to choose from too. However, despite the availability of such products and options to take, only 15% of people tried this cosmetic procedure.  Misinformation is too widespread for people to really feel confident about it. You should know though that both procedures, at home or in the dentist’s office, long or short, work. The thing is that, the result do vary from slight to extensive improvement in whiteness or brightness of your teeth depending on which type and what strength the product has. And its result is not permanent no matter whichever procedure you choose that you will need to have maintenance to prolong its substantial effect.

Teeth bleaching and Whitening: Is there a difference?

Whitening and bleaching the teeth are not really the same in practice. While both procedures can whiten the teeth, bleaching, as defined by the FDA, is used to whiten the teeth by applying products containing hydrogen or carbamide peroxide on the teeth with results of whitening beyond the original natural shade of your teeth and whitening is used to remove stains on the tooth’s surface from consuming food and beverages causing the teeth to discolor. The term “tooth whitening” is used for both procedure, bleaching to whiten the teeth and plain whitening to clean teeth’s surface (like toothpaste), because it sounds nicer than bleaching.

Types of  whitening procedures

There are many dental teeth whitening to date that are available these days to satisfy ones cosmetic wants and they are as follows.

  1. In-office teeth whitening procedure. One of the most major benefits that you can get with an in-office teeth whitening is its ability to make your teeth significantly whiter quickly. The procedure involves a higher concentration of peroxide gel that is professionally applied to your teeth by professionals trained to do this after applying a protective material on your gums. Then an ultraviolet light is applied to the bleaching gel to activate it and whiten the teeth. This procedure will take an hour to complete. Average cost is about $500 for 1 hour teeth whitening, but some offices have specials that you can take advantage of.
  2. Custom Whitening kits from dentist. These are kits used to whiten your teeth at the comfort of your home given to you by a dentist. These dentists’ dispensed kits contain a custom tray that is fitted to your teeth.  An impression of your teeth are taken and a tray is customized for you. These custom trays make sure the formula stays in place as you whiten your teeth and the bleaching gel is not leaked onto your gums and cause damage. The gel concentration can vary depending on how discolored your teeth are and how sensitive your teeth are. Take note that the stronger the  peroxide concentration is, the whiter your teeth will become in a shorter time period. Usually this method is done about an hour a day for 7-10 days. The cost for the professional take home kits with custom trays can range from $200-400.
  3. One-size fits all tray home kits from dentist. These kits use one-size fit all trays which will have lower concentration of the bleaching because of the tray not being custom fitted to your teeth. These are also used anywhere from 1 hour a day to overnight for 7-10 days. The cost for these can range from $90-150.
  4. OTC teeth whitening. This is the cheapest teeth whitening procedure you can chose and the OTC kits. These can be in the form of whitening strips or one-size fit all trays.  The difference between these and the one-size fit all trays from your dentist is that they are less effective due to lesser bleach concentration. Average cost maybe $50-60.
  5. Whitening toothpastes. These are used just like regular toothpastes and you may not see any difference in the color of your teeth because they only remove surface stains caused by consuming food and beverages that may stain teeth over the years. The cost maybe a little more that a regular toothpaste.
  6. Whitening chewing gum. This type of gum contains bicarb soda which is also used in the whitening toothpastes. There is no bleach in chewing gum and therefore no whitening effect. Because of the bicarb soda, you might get some cleaning effect like the toothpaste, but hardly. You will have to chew minimum 20 minutes, 4 times a day and then over a few week, you may see that cleaning effect. Warning: Chewing gum for a long periods and several times a day, may cause problems in the jaw muscles and joint.

 Hydrogen and Carbamide Peroxide

In-office whitening is very effective because dentist use a powerful concentration of hydrogen peroxide. The hydrogen peroxide used may range from 10-40 %.  The take home teeth whitening on the other hand have carbamide peroxide that is why its effect is slower as it only has about one third of hydrogen peroxide strength. So a 15% cabomide peroxide is equivalent to 5% hydrogen peroxide. Carbamide are use for take home kits because you will be doing this by yourself whereas if a dentist will administer your teeth whitening, he or she can protect your gums from the peroxide substance that can irritate your gums tremendously.

What are the risks involved going through this procedure?

There are risks in going through teeth whitening although these are quite temporary. However, it bodes to know well just what they are: teeth sensitivity, gum irritation and multicolor teeth.

  • Teeth Sensitivity– The degree of experiencing sensitivity has to do with how sensitive your teeth are in general, what the concentration of the bleaching gel is, if you have gum recessions, if you have cracks in your teeth, if you have a restoration or a filling that is leaking. Of course with in-office teeth whitening you will have more sensitivity and may feel small shock like feeling than all the other types. But it usually won’t last more than 2 days or so.
  • Gum Irritation– Again this is more experienced with higher concentrations of the gels as well as products that don’t use custom fitted trays to your teeth. This is also temporary unless it is overly used.
  • Multicolor Teeth- This happens when you have a porcelain crown or veneers and you whiten your teeth. The crown or veneer won’t change color and now your teeth may become whiter than your crown or veneer.

In Closing: Before you go through any whitening procedure, you need to understand that the teeth whitening effect is never permanent and that no matter how you bleach your teeth, you will never have that super, ultra, white teeth you see being advertised with a one-time treatment, because there are many factors involved. It also takes time, about two weeks, to see a result and this procedure won’t be able to whiten your veneers or other cosmetic bonding. And remember, if you are pregnant or lactating, you shouldn’t use any bleaching products. By: Ladan Zinati


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  3. Rae
    December 14, 2014

    This post is truly everything I needed to know about teeth whitening. Thank you! Now I can make a wiser decision.

    • admin
      December 14, 2014

      You are welcome.

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