For many people, teeth whitening is a great image booster, allowing you to feel more attractive and more confident.
First thing’s first. Find out if teeth whitening is the right solution for you. Pregnant and nursing women, and people with poor enamel, extensive tooth decay or less-than-healthy gums should avoid teeth whitening altogether. This is because the active ingredient in whitening treatments, namely, bleach, could do more harm than good in your particular case. Want to be safe? Ask your dentist at the next regular checkup. If you get the OK, then you’re cleared for takeoff!
Next step? Decide whether to whiten at home or at the office of your dentist. Consider the following…
- Safety – Since whitening at the dentist is supervised by an experienced practitioner, it may be better to let the professionals handle it.
- Cost – Generally, whitening at the dentist is more expensive, so budget is a factor.
- Convenience and speed – In-home whitening can be a time-saver. But whitening at the dentist can require fewer treatments, so consider your options carefully.
Home is where the whitening is.
WebMD lists a number of treatments you can do at home…
- Whitening rinses. An easy, but gradual way to whiten your teeth.
- Whitening toothpaste. Mild abrasives remove stains gradually, but beware – over-use can result in sensitive teeth! (It happened to this reporter.)
- Gel strips. Usually applied to teeth once a day for up to 2 hours, 10 to 20 days for full effect. Phew!
- Whitening trays. Plastic trays filled with whitening gel fit over teeth like a tooth guard. Quick results, but at-home trays are not custom-made to fit your teeth, so they’re more likely to irritate gums and make leave uneven areas.
A trip to the dentist.
We like the idea of professionally supervised whitening for both safety and efficacy.
Specific treatments are up to the individual dental practitioners, but most commonly, custom trays are prepared to allow a tighter fit for your personal bite (as compared with generic in-home solutions). Specific treatments are up to the individual dental practitioners.
In-office treatments offer stronger bleaching solutions, which can mean fewer treatments, and greater convenience for some people. Alternatively, in-home kits can also be provided and supervised by your dentist.
We say, give your dentist a call first, before doing anything, just to get a better idea what might be right for you. We look forward to seeing your brighter smile soon!
The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry has a nice page about in-office and dentist-supervised teeth whitening. Check it out!