How Effective Is Teeth Whitening?


There are many ways to whiten your teeth. There’s a lot of information from over-the-counter products and professional treatments that can help you get whiter pearly whites for the summer or anytime. But how effective is it?

It seemed like yesterday when an office visit meant sitting in uncomfortable dental chairs while some stranger worked on your mouth with tools you’d instead not think about.

Nowadays, dentists offer everything from tooth bleaches to laser whitening systems — and they all promise to make your smile brighter than ever before. If you’re tired of being stuck between two shades of yellow, then maybe it’s time to give your smile a little boost by getting professionally treated.

There are plenty of options for choosing a method for whitening your teeth, but which one works best? And what are the risks associated with using these methods? Please keep reading to learn more about different whiteners and their effectiveness.

Whitening Systems

If you want white teeth, there are three main approaches to take: at home, semi-professionally (i.e., at a dentist), or professionally (with specialized equipment). The first option involves buying whitening strips, gums, or rinses and applying them yourself at home.

First, let’s talk about safety. These products contain peroxide, carbamide, or hydrogen peroxide and work by breaking down stains through oxidation. While this type of treatment may seem simple enough, the results aren’t always guaranteed.

Some people have allergies to certain chemicals found in most whitening products, so if you experience any side effects after applying these products — including irritation, burning, redness, dry mouth, and sensitivity — stop use immediately! Other problems include uneven coloration, staining, and even discoloration.

The second approach is taken by visiting your local dentist, who will either apply special whitening gel directly onto your teeth or use a high-intensity light source called a diode laser to break down stains. These procedures require expensive visits to the dentist.

However, both methods could be covered under insurance plans depending upon where you live. Laser whitening has been shown to remove up to six times as much stain material from teeth as traditional techniques.

Also, because lasers don’t rely on harmful ingredients such as bleach, patients should feel better afterward. Unfortunately, cost remains prohibitively high for many people, especially those living outside major cities. Lastly, if you have braces or other metal appliances attached to your teeth, laser whitening might not be the right choice.

Finally, we come to the third way — professional whitening services. To receive maximum benefits, you’ll need to schedule regular sessions with a reputable practitioner. For example, Dr. Jennifer Ashton recommends a series of four to five 30-minute appointments spaced roughly every four weeks.

She uses a custom-made tray filled with concentrated whitening gel specially formulated to match her patient’s skin tone during each session. Afterward, follow-up maintenance trays containing less powerful whitening agents must be worn daily until the next appointment.

This procedure costs thousands of dollars and requires multiple trips to the dentist, but its success rate is nearly 100 percent.

Now that we’ve talked about the pros and cons of various whitening programs, read on to find out how safe they are.

Teeth Whitening Safety Tips

When deciding whether to go the DIY route, consider this important fact: It takes about 14 days of exposure to chemical substances found in oral care products to see visible changes in teeth. If you plan to try a new product without consulting a dentist, do so only once you know exactly what you’re putting into your body.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), oral health professionals recommend taking the following precautions whenever possible :

Read labels carefully. Pay attention to ingredient lists and avoid ingesting anything labeled “permanent,” “freshest,” or “fresh.”

Avoid mixing your own mixtures. Combining your whitener might initially save money, but it also increases the risk of improper storage. If you decide to mix your concoction, stick to recipes written specifically for that purpose. Never add baking soda or vinegar to whiteners.

Don’t swallow tablets whole unless instructed to do so by a doctor. Consuming large doses of vitamin C (found in citrus fruits) can cause gastrointestinal distress.

Keep away from children and pets. Most whitening products shouldn’t pose a danger to humans, but small animals can sometimes accidentally eat the wrong thing. Don’t forget to ask your veterinarian if you suspect pet consumption of particular products.

All of these products should leave you feeling confident about maintaining a healthy smile with proper use. Next, keep reading to discover why professional whitening lasts longer than self-applied kits.

Most people assume that drinking alcohol makes teeth darker. Alcohol affects our overall appearance by making us look older, plus it contains acid compounds that contribute to plaque buildups in the mouths, resulting in cavities and gum disease. So drink responsibly and brush twice as often!

In-Office Whitening

For years, people were limited to the number of choices available when considering how to brighten their smiles. Professional whitening was reserved for wealthy individuals, and amateur practitioners had to resort to dangerous and costly alternatives such as eating lots of dark chocolate or using harsh chemicals.

Fortunately, things have changed dramatically thanks to technological advances made during the past decade. Today, several forms of advanced technology exist that allow people to achieve beautiful natural-looking colors without risking damage to their enamel or having to spend hours worrying about keeping track of supplies.

Let’s start with the basics.

Professional teeth whitening begins with a consultation with a qualified cosmetic dentist. They will discuss your current state of oral hygiene, medical history, and lifestyle habits at this meeting. Based on this assessment, the dentist may choose to prescribe a specific regimen designed around your needs.

A typical program might consist of a topical solution applied to stained areas followed by a more potent agent penetrating deeper tissue layers. Depending on your situation, your dentist may incorporate professional teeth cleaning or fluoride application throughout the process.

Once complete, a final exam ensures that no additional issues arise. Upon approval, you’ll be ready to begin your customized whitening treatment.

During the actual whitening portion of the process, you’ll wear comfortable soft plastic retainers that hold your upper and lower front teeth firmly against gels placed over them. Gels typically last anywhere from 1 hour to 2 hours, but some patients report staying inside the chair for only 20 minutes.

When finished, your retainer/gel combo will need to stay off your mouth for 24 hours prior to removal. Finally, the end result might surprise you! You’ll likely receive gentle massages and hand scrapings throughout this period to ensure that nothing gets left behind.

Many patients notice increased confidence levels after receiving their professional-grade smiles back.

Continue reading to learn more about the steps involved in professional whitening processes and how long the effects last.

According to a study published in 2010, women tend to turn to artificial sources of whiteness far more frequently than men. Researchers believe this trend stems from social pressures surrounding male vanity. Women still view cosmetics as suitable for enhancing attractiveness, whereas men rarely express interest in improving looks beyond their usual style.

How Long Do Whitening Effects Last?

As mentioned previously, professional teeth whitening varies based on individual circumstances. Typically lasting from 3 months to 6 months, results vary according to age and frequency of the previous bleaching.

Because of this variation, it’s hard to predict how long particular patients’ teeth will remain noticeably whiter afterward. As a general rule, however, most people report seeing noticeable improvements within a week of beginning therapy.

Furthermore, studies suggest that the length of time required to obtain optimal results depends mainly on the amount of staining present on teeth beforehand. Of course, no matter what, you should never attempt whitening if you suffer from preterm root resorption or severe arthritis.

While a few quick fixes can improve your smile, it pays to consult a trained professional if you want dramatic results. To determine what kinds of risks accompany whitening efforts, check out the resources listed below.

Although whitening strips, gums, and rinses appear inexpensive, the average price tag for professional whitening services ranges from $500-$1,000.

The extra expense accounts for higher quality materials, training, and supervision provided by certified technicians and the elimination of potentially hazardous components such as sodium hydroxide or hydroxyapatite.

The ADA reports that patients undergoing professional whitening enjoy greater comfort, fewer adverse reactions, and superior outcomes.

Should You Whiten Your Teeth?

Whether you prefer to tackle stains yourself or seek the expertise of a professional service provider, whitening offers significant benefits. It increases confidence and reduces stress, but it also helps maintain healthier teeth and gums well into old age.

Jason Smith

I am a Marine who now works as a Web Developer. I have five US States left to visit. I like whiskey, wine, and coffee, soaking in hot springs or in my hot tub.

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