Teeth Whitening 101
By Lucia Rossi
Let’s be honest, we all want that clean, white, eye-blindingly bright smile. But how far are you willing to go to get it?
The value of a smile is surely great. You can see what I mean with these statistics from the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry: 99.7% of adults believe a smile is an important asset, 96% of adults believe an attractive smile makes a person more appealing to the opposite sex, and 74% of adults feel that an unattractive can interfere with a person’s chance for career success.
Don’t you just feel like running to the bathroom and brushing your teeth? Before you go, let’s talk about all your options.
Your safest, quickest, and most effective way to get your teeth whitened is to have them done professionally at the dentist’s office. Don’t feel disappointed, hear me out first. Dentists use stronger agents on your teeth (15%-43% of peroxide) that you can’t use at home. They can brighten your teeth up to 10 shades in one hour all while protecting your gums and tooth enamel. Your doctor is also best qualified to handle any issues, like tooth sensitivity. This treatment can cost anywhere from $500-$1,000.
Results depend on the issues you have with your teeth. Bleaching won’t whiten porcelain crowns, bondings, internal stains, or teeth that has been root canalled. Internal teeth whitening can be done but it is more expensive. There has also been debate that teeth whitening is dangerous while pregnant. Typically, yellow colored teeth are the easiest to work with and to fix, it is less effective with brown teeth, and completely ineffective with gray or purple teeth. Just so you know.
Prepare yourself for the dentist and get familiar with popular brand names besides the common Rembrandt and Crest. Philips Zoom! Has 25% peroxide for in-office treatment. You also have the option to take home the night and day kits. This brand has special formulas for teeth sensitivity and strong formulas for when you’re in a rush. BriteSmile is a brand used only in Dentist offices that have 15% peroxide. It is a gel combined with the use of a blue light to intensify the effects and has a nearly neutral ph level. Opalescence is a brand offices use with 40% peroxide with potassium nitrate to reduce sensitivity. GLO Science Professional stands for Guided Light Optics because the mouthpiece uses light and heat to maximize the strength of the whitening gel. You can buy this and use it at home but the system costs around $170 on Amazon.
If you want the strongest bleaching system on the market, one that can tackle your internal stains as well as external, then get familiar with KoR Whitening Deep Bleaching. This process can whiten your smile by 16 shades and the results are permanent. This treatment does cost a pretty penny, but you only do it once then never again.
Let’s talk about your over the counter options. There are many whitening products out there to try like, whitening strips, tooth gel, mouth trays with gel, whitening toothpaste, and even whitening gum.
Experts and consumers agree that the most effective at-home treatment is the whitening strips. The key to gaining some serious results is consistency. If you put on the strips once a day, for 30-60 minutes, for 10 -14 days, you will see results that will last for four or more months. Strips can cost anywhere from $10-$55 depending on where and what kind you buy.
The tray whitening systems consist of mouth guards that you fill with peroxide based gel and place over your teeth for an hour or more. Some systems come with the mouth UV lights to maximize the intensity. This system you can buy over the counter or online and usually costs anywhere from $150-$600. However, online websites do sell cheap versions of the expensive ones. Be careful of the quality you buy and please read the reviews. On Amazon, you can get a cheap system for around $30. The mouth guards are also a hit or miss because they aren’t fitted to your mouth unless you get them customized by your dentist. Trays that aren’t fitted can feel uncomfortable and the gel can ooze out and hurt your gums. So be cautious.
If you think your teeth don’t really need too much work, then maybe try a tooth whitening toothpaste or whitening boost paste to put over your normal toothpaste. This method can whiten your teeth by one shade and is mildly abrasive. If you are consistent, you will see the difference. This is generally a cheap option hat costs from $2-$10. This method also doesn’t bleach it just whitens.
Tooth gel is also a good option if you don’t need very dramatic results. The results a gel can do varies based upon the strength of the peroxide. A gel can be applied daily after you brush and will dissipate throughout the day. Personally, I like the Whitening Lightening Pen. They sell whitening pens with no peroxide as well if you want just natural ingredients. This method is usually cheap, and cost ranges from $5-$20.
It is very important that you know the risks of what you could do to your mouth from over whitening. Your enamel is like your virginity, once it’s gone, it never comes back. So you must be careful when doing the processes at home because if you do them incorrectly you could: burn or even temporarily bleach your gums, have permanent gum or tooth sensitivity, damage your dental roots, have enamel erosion, get uneven results, or damage the mucous membranes in your mouth. This happens to people who over whiten their teeth which can actually become an addiction. Don’t over do it, know when to say enough is enough and whiten at your own risk.
With that being said, let’s move on to DIY’s and home remedies.
The most popular at home DIY for teeth whitening is simply baking soda and peroxide. You mix the two to form a paste consistency and then very gently brush your teeth with it, trying to avoid your gums. Don’t do this everyday. Dr. Gerry Curatola from New York says use this for 3-5 days and then again in 3-6 months. You can also create other pastes like strawberries and a teaspoon of baking soda. Rub this mixture in for 5-7 minutes, rinse, and then floss out the seeds. The malic acid in the strawberries is great for dissolving stains.
Have you ever heard of people using a banana peel to remove scratches from a CD? Well, it’s the same concept for your teeth. The inside of a banana peel can whiten your teeth. The rich minerals in the banana like potassium, magnesium, and manganese becomes absorbed by your enamel and has the whitening effects. Just rub it on for two minutes, rinse, and repeat before bed. An orange peel works too.
Apple cider vinegar is great for whitening too because it is also an acid like the strawberries. You can dip your toothbrush in it and brush normally once a week, use it as a rinse with two parts water and one part vinegar, or mix baking soda to make a paste, bush for two minutes and then rinse.
Coconut oil or olive oil is a very safe and natural way to remove stains. You can rub it on your teeth everyday and not worry about it hurting your enamel because it is not acidic. However, the feeling of oil swishing in your mouth is not a very pleasant experience.
In case you aren’t already aware, certain food and drinks can stain your teeth. This includes: black teas, coffee, white and red wine, sports drinks, dark and light sodas, sauces (acidic foods), berries and other strong colored food. Don’t give up coffee lovers, you can lessen the effects of the coffee on your teeth by drinking it with milk. Do I need to remind you that smoking is bad for your teeth?
Everyone’s teeth whitening experience is and will be different. If you are really concerned, get advice from your dentist, ask questions, and think about your options. Be careful not to whiten too often and do whatever you feel most comfortable with. Everyone deserves a beautiful smile and should get one at any price.
Categories: Livin' La Vida Lucia