When it comes to improving the way that we look, brighter, whiter smiles are right at the top of many people’s wish list. Studies suggest that as many as 80% of American’s aged between 18 and 49 want whiter teeth, and it is easy to see why. Modelled by an army of influential personalities, whiter smiles are associated with successful personal and professional lives, health and happiness.
Teeth whitening is the single most commonly requested cosmetic procedure in the world, and a relatively easy and inexpensive way of transforming your smile. Improving confidence and self-esteem, it can also help to create a positive first impression and more youthful appearance.
The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry has stated that American’s spent more than $1.4 billion on over-the-counter whitening methods alone in the last year. While at-home whitening may be the most budget-friendly way of improving the color of your teeth, it is not necessarily the most effective or the safest.
Almost all teeth whitening products and services use carbamide peroxide, which yields hydrogen peroxide, as the active bleaching agent. This bleach must be used at specific concentrations in order to be considered safe, and even then, if a little of it gets onto your gums it can cause irritation and even change their color as well as your teeth.
Does this mean that lower concentration whitening agents are safest?
While lower concentrations of whitening agents may cause less of a reaction, they are also generally considered much less effective.
The lowest concentrations of whitening agents are usually found in toothpastes marketed as having ‘whitening’ capabilities. As it is impossible to brush your teeth without toothpaste making contact with your gums, it is of no surprise that this method of teeth whitening requires prolonged use to have any effect whatsoever. Patients who do notice a slight difference in the color of their teeth find that the results fade almost immediately. Many experts also claim that ‘whitening’ toothpastes can be abrasive, which could cause damage to the enamel on your teeth and contribute towards other dental problems.
What about at-home kits?
If you want a quicker solution to tooth discoloration and staining, you may be considering at-home teeth whitening kits. Some varieties are available over the counter, while some dentists offer their own ‘whitening trays’.
The main difference between the two again comes down to the strength of the bleaching agent used. While over the counter whitening kits often have a higher concentration of bleach than toothpastes or mouthwashes, it is still weaker than a whitening agent provided by a professional. Therefore, at-home whitening is rarely as effective or long-lasting as treatment that is provided by your dentist.
The other key concern is application. As we know, hydrogen peroxide can irritate the gums. Whether you are using an over the counter kit or a tray provided by your dentist, you still need to complete at least one application yourself, and in many cases, several are needed to see an improvement. As you can probably imagine, applying bleach to your own teeth can be difficult, and gum irritation is extremely common. It is also tricky to apply it evenly, meaning that many people who undertake a whitening procedure themselves achieve inconsistent and patchy results.
Granted, in-office teeth whitening uses professional grade whitening agents, which are the strongest and most effective and lightening teeth. However, by choosing to have your teeth whitened by a trained cosmetic dental professional, you also benefit from their skill and experience when it comes to applying the chemical. Your dentist will have considerably better access to your teeth, making it much easier for him/her to apply the hydrogen peroxide accurately, reducing your risk of irritation. Patients who decide to undergo professional teeth whitening are proven to achieve more consistent and longer-lasting results.
Before opting for any type of teeth whitening treatment, it is best to seek the advice from the dentists at Vero Dental Spa. We will be able to explain more in detail about what each type of treatment involves and give you realistic expectations about what kind of result you can expect to achieve based on the current color of your teeth.