There are many teeth whitening products available to consumers both from your dentist and at grocery stores, drug stores and online Websites. Educating yourself about teeth whiteners before buying is a very smart decision. There are two ways to whiten your teeth: over-the-counter and with a dentist. There are benefits and disadvantages to both ways.
There are two main ingredients used in whiteners. Some whiteners use 10% Hydrogen Peroxide. Hydrogen Peroxide is also used to bleach hair. Other whiteners use Carbamide Peroxide. This breaks up in your mouth into both carbamide peroxide and urea. It is to your benefit to have your teeth professionally cleaned and any cavities filled before starting to use teeth whitener. Most over-the-counter whiteners use either trays or strips. The cost of these products can be anywhere from under $10 to $35 per container.
Problems with over-the-counter whiteners
Without a professional administering the whitener, there will be no way for you to adjust the amount strength. If you encounter sensitivity of your gum, there is no way to adjust the strength for your needs. It can also be difficult to cover all the tooth surfaces with strips and trays.
If you experience irritation, you can try to cut back on usage. Instead of daily, use the whitening every other day. You can also apply a product such as Orajel, to your irritated gum.
One thing you should know is that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration does not categorize teeth whitening products as drugs and therefore does not regulate them. Because of this, the ADA (American Dental Association) has set guidelines for these dental products.
These guidelines are standards for safety and effectiveness. They state that whiteners should not cause any harm to either the teeth or the soft tissues of the mouth and gum. They also state that the product should be effect in whitening teeth. As of January 2006, no over the counter teeth whitening products have met he ADA guidelines for safety and effectiveness.
At The Dentists
Your dentist will clean your teeth, fill any cavities and check your gums to be sure they are healthy. The dentist will use between 15 to 35% of either Carbamide Peroxide or Hydrogen Peroxide. Your dentist will adjust the amount based on how your gums respond to the application process.
Before applying the whitener, the dentist will clean your teeth with a pumice and then put a protective barrier on your gums. The entire treatment generally takes about 40 minutes. The dentist will apply a paste, take it off, and then reapply the paste. The dentist will repeat the process several times during the visit. Each application will result with your teeth becoming a shade lighter each time. Having your teeth whitened this way is faster than the over-the-counter products.
You can also opt for your dentist to make you a tray to take home that you wear over your teeth. The dentist will take a mold (impression of your teeth/gums) so that the tray will fit properly. You will receive a gel to put into the tray. You then wear the tray for 2 hours during the day for 2 weeks and possibly up to 6 weeks.
Using the professional services of your dentist to whiten your teeth will run anywhere from $300 to $1,000. You may also have to wait for an appointment, and then go through the process of the examination. If the dentist finds and cavities you will need to wait while the fillings are placed.