Teeth Whitening Methods

Dr. Kristin Helms

Yellowing teeth can happen to anyone. Eating the wrong foods: blueberries, high sugar, simple carbohydrates. Drinking the wrong drinks: coffee, teas, red wine. Smoking. Taking certain medications. Mouthwashes. Genetics. Too much fluoride. Poor dental care. Age. It seems like yellow teeth are unavoidable. Thankfully, even when prevention of yellowing hasn’t taken hold, we have many whitening options at our disposal that should brighten your day.

When it comes to teeth whitening, there are many different options. Each has its benefits, its level of whitening, and its degree of sensitivity. Teeth whitening is rarely a “one-size-fits-all” option, so lets review what is out there and see what may work best for you.

In-Office Whitening
If you are looking for quick, safe, and effective whitening in one visit, in-office dental whitening is for you. In just one hour, using our best whitening technology, we can whiten each tooth individually while protecting the gums from discomfort. In-office whitening is a multiple step process, including a desensitizing toothpaste applied daily for 2 weeks prior to whitening appointment, polishing the teeth before beginning, wearing a retractor to keep the cheeks, tongue, and lips away from the whitening solution, and adding a barrier around the gumline to further protect the sensitive tissue from exposure. A whitening liquid, consisting of up to 43% concentrated peroxide agent is expertly applied to the front of the teeth, then activated with a curing light for 30 to 60 minutes. Once the correct time has elapsed, we clean off the agent and gel barrier, and apply a fluoride layer to the teeth to ease any tooth sensitivity. And just like that, your teeth are white and smile brighter.

Unfortunately, in-office whitening isn’t for everyone. Some people with more sensitive teeth, who have issues with hot/cold sensations, or whose teeth are more susceptible to damage because of increased tooth decay or grinding, are not recommended for this in-office procedure. This is why we like to review each patient and their needs individually, to ensure you can receive the best results with the least likelihood of damage to the teeth, gums, and general sensitivity issues.

At-Home Bleaching Kits
Bleaching kits vary in strength and effectiveness. Depending upon the brand, kits can be in the form of strips, gels, or trays. They are worn for a few minutes or hours a day, taking from 3 days to 3 weeks to show results. At-home kits are available at your local drug store, but also from our office. When compared to the drug store version, our teeth whitening kits are stronger, quicker, and more effective. The office-kit results can last longer than the 4-month average of the drug store kits.

When getting an at-home teeth whitening kit from Sensitive Care, we will fit you for a custom teeth whitening tray and train you on how to most effectively use the kit. When using your custom-tray, you are less likely to have issues of the bleaching agent coming in contact with the gums, causing irritation. With our at-home option, we recommend you wear the trays for 2 hours a day for one to two weeks, depending upon desired results.

Hydrogen Peroxide + Baking Soda
The primary ingredient in most whitening products is peroxide. Peroxide acts as a bleaching agent, removing color from the enamel of the teeth. The stronger the peroxide, the whiter the results – but the higher the chance of tooth sensitivity, gum issues, and even tooth decay.

At-home treatments of Hydrogen Peroxide + Baking Soda have shown good results for people who are less able to do stronger treatments. Unlike the commercial whitening products, which contain peroxide percentages of 10 to 22%, this homemade paste contains less than 3% peroxide. It is less likely to cause pain in sensitive patience, and less likely to interact with gum tissue.

To create this at-home paste, just mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with 2 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide. Brush your teeth with this mixture and rinse thoroughly. The paste will taste rather salty and may be a bit gritty on the teeth. Studies have shown that brushing with this mixture weekly for 1-2 times weekly for up to 6 weeks can show positive results. Continuing beyond 6 weeks, can cause increased sensitivity and break down the enamel, so be cautious to stop at this point. Also, the results may be temporary, so repeating this treatment yearly may be a benefit.

If you’d like to make an appointment to talk to one of our teeth whitening specialist and see what your best options are, call us today at 203-951-5540.

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