tooth whitening, teeth whitening

All About Tooth Whitening

By Dr. Nammy Patel

Tooth whitening continues to grow in popularity. What was formerly a process used chiefly by actors and newscasters has become the new normal for anyone who cares how they look. If you’re not already sporting a whiter, brighter smile – what is holding you back? From at-home products to in-office whitening treatments, whitening is more available and affordable than ever. In my experience, nothing can shave years off your appearance like a bright, white smile.

There are three levels of whitening available. The first is the over-the-counter type you can buy at a drug store, such as whitening strips or paint-on whitening kits. The second is the at-home professional kit, which your dentist customizes for you using bleach trays and prescription-strength gel; you do the process yourself over the course of several days.

In-office whitening is the third and, in my opinion, the best option because of the dramatic effect you can get over a short period of time. When you use the take-home kit your dentist supplies, or an over-the-counter kit, it takes longer to get the same results. If you want your teeth to be one to two shades lighter, you can use the over-the-counter kit. If you’re looking to go two or three shades lighter, or to maintain an in-office whitening, the kit your dentist can supply with whitening gel and a mold of your teeth is probably best. But, if you want to make a dramatic change and go from four to eight shades lighter, you can get that done quickly in-office. When we whiten, we open up the tubules, so it’s like getting a facial. It gets in deep, going into the inner layers of the teeth. That’s why it lasts longer. There are several different types of in-office treatments including Zoom Whitening and EZ White—all peroxide-based. I use Zoom Whitening for the most part, but I also do the in-office EZ White if people have gum recession, because the bleach can cause pain and long-term sensitivity if you have receding gums. I prefer that product in those cases because I can isolate it on the tooth, and control the degree of whitening. With Zoom, I can’t control the whitening quite as easily.

If you’re looking to lighten things up a bit, try an over-the-counter kit a day or two after your professional cleaning. We’ve got some gel pens at the office that you simply apply to your teeth and let the gel set for two minutes. They get a good result if you’re not after something dramatic.

Whatever whitening process you use, I always recommend using a remineralization toothpaste afterward to minimize sensitivity. DoTerra is my preferred brand, but any paste with calcium and phosphate or a fluoridated toothpaste will do the same thing.

You can have that bright smile you’ve always wanted—and you can do it by degrees. Start with the most conservative method, like a good cleaning, and talk to your dentist about what you want to accomplish and what your options are.

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