Teeth whitening and what you need to know

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Thursday, October 14, 2021

Over the years we have seen remarkable growth for the teeth whitening industry. A bright white smile is desirable and easily obtainable for most people. In today’s market, navigating the decision on how to achieve and maintain a white smile can be tricky. Products now range from toothpastes, strips, gels, pens, rinses, trays, lasers, lights and oils.

Teeth whitening developed as dentists noticed the lightening of teeth when using a peroxide-based antiseptic. In the 1970s, studies discovered mild peroxide-based detergents were both safe and effective in bleaching the enamel of teeth. Largely, the chemistry of whitening agents has remained the same and utilize either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.

Over the counter whitening agents are safe and effective. Look for a seal from the American Dental Association (ADA) to ensure you are using a product that safe.

OTC whitening agents are typically low concentrations and their effectiveness may take weeks to months to be noticeable, so choose a product that stays on the teeth for at least 15-20 minutes.

Teeth sensitivity may increase with whitening agents. If sensitivity occurs, decrease the amount of time and frequency you are whitening and see a dentist.

Products on the market with higher concentrations of peroxides can be found online, but there is likelihood of damage to your teeth and gums. Be cautious of any light-assisted whitening product, as research does not favor the use of lights in whitening products and many professionals see most as gimmicks.

Using stronger whitening agents is possible, but should be under the supervision of a dentist. Teeth with cracks or cavities may suffer permanent damage from higher concentrations of peroxides.

Your dental professional can make custom fitting trays for home use to apply the whitening agents very specifically. Furthermore, most offices have in office systems that will paint a barrier over the soft tissue, allowing stronger agents to applied to the teeth over several short intervals. In office bleaching can be expensive, but it is also very effective at reducing unwanted staining.