Teeth Whitening: Options and Treatment Types

Having a beautiful, dazzling smile is something everyone wants, right? With so many options out there, it can be difficult to know what will work best for you and your teeth. Professional whitenings can reverse damage caused by smoking, aging, dark beverages, and acid. Drugstore whitening products are also effective, but have a more temporary effect on your smile. 

Recent dental industry surveys have found that teeth whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic dental treatments performed in dental offices. Achieving a brilliant smile is possible, but that’s why it is important to know your options and what treatments are available. 

Teeth Whitening Options

There are four main categories of teeth whitening options on the market, and you will want to ensure you are choosing the safest and most suitable option for your smile. 

Regardless of how you decide to whiten your teeth, the primary agent to whitening products is hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). What differentiates these options and treatments types apart from one another is the amount and concentration of hydrogen peroxide. Higher levels of H2O2 means better results, however, at-home kits keep evolving and offer the possibility of whiter teeth at a reduced cost. 

In-Office Whitening Treatments

In-office treatments use a concentrated hydrogen peroxide solution and typically guarantees effective results. There are two different in-office treatments available:

  • Kool Lite whitening: This is a quick, 15 minutes, in-office tooth whitening procedure. It uses a gel-lined tray and LED light to activate the whitening ingredients in the gel. A whiter smile is achievable in just minutes. 
  • One-hour, side-chair whitening: The dentist applies whitening gel to the teeth manually and applies a special light to accelerate the process. This laser whitening process can be done as many times as needed to achieve the desired shade of white. 

In both treatment options, special precautions are taken to protect the gums and soft tissue from the whitening agents. While this is the most effective teeth whitening option, there are a few drawbacks associated: lengthy time in the chair, more expensive, increased change of tooth sensitivity. 

Prescribed Kits

Your dentist might prescribe an at-home whitening kit. These have less hydrogen peroxide than an in-office whitening process, but more than whitening strips, gels, or toothpastes. To prepare for optimal results, your dentist will take an impression of your teeth to create custom whitening trays. Special whitening gel is placed inside the trays, which then fit around your teeth. It is important to follow your dentist’s instructions carefully so your progress can be properly assessed.  

Over-the-Counter Whitening Solutions

Drugstores, grocery stores, and large chain stores have a variety of over-the-counter whitening solutions available. Because they are available without a prescription, there is a lower amount of hydrogen peroxide. These options contain bleaching agents and ingredients taht can harm the gums if not applied properly. Over-the-counter products include:

  • Gels
  • Chewing gum
  • Rinses
  • Toothpastes: Whitening toothpastes typically only remove surface stains, although there are “advanced whitening” products that can also reach deeper than the surface and provide whiter results. 
  • Paint-on films: These paint-on films contain 6-8% hydrogen peroxide. It is applied with a brush directly to your teeth. You can use this to lighten individual teeth, or brighten your whole smile. 
  • Whitening strips: Whitening strips are the most cost-effective over-the-counter option for whitening your teeth. While results may vary depending on your teeth, the strips are very efficient. 

DIY Techniques

If you don’t want to use hydrogen peroxide to whiten your teeth and prefer a more natural method, there are several options. Certain fruits like lemons, strawberries, and bananas can be rubbed on your teeth and brighten your teeth. This is not recommended, however, because of the acidity in these fruits. Rubbing acids on your teeth may erode your enamel overtime. Other options include coconut oil pulling and using activated charcoal on your teeth, although these are not scientifically proven to whiten your teeth. 

It’s important to know how those products will work for you. The Canadian Dental Association has two categories for whitening: surface and bleaching. Bleaching removes extrinsic and intrinsic stains, whereas surface whitening only removes surface stains. Whatever option you choose, always talk to your dentist first. 

Things to Consider

If you have crowns or dental implants, discuss your whitening options with your dentist. Your natural tooth enamel may whiten differently than the dental restorations. All Altima Dental locations provide whitening services, so be sure to let your provider know if you have any concerns regarding the whitening process during your consultation. 

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