Many foods and beverages such as coffee, tea, red wine, soda, and berries are beloved for their taste, but come at a price: stained teeth. Eating candy, smoking, or chewing tobacco can also contribute to discolored teeth. Fortunately, a variety of options can help transform teeth from dull and yellow to pearly, healthy, and white.
Generally, there are two routes for effectively whitening your teeth: at-home options or professional whitening performed by your dentist. Read on to learn about the most popular options, both at home and professionally, as well details of the treatments.
How Does Tooth-Whitening Work?
Whether you choose the at-home route or treatment by a professional, both options utilize bleaching agents formulated with peroxide. At-home kits generally contain peroxide concentrations between 3 and 20 percent while office treatments contain 15 to 43 percent peroxide. Due to their higher concentration of peroxide, office treatments produce far faster results that also tend to last longer.
Professional Teeth Whitening Procedures
As mentioned above, the peroxide solution utilized in professional treatments is significantly stronger than at-home options. Since the peroxide concentration is higher, the solution can be applied for less time while still producing noticeable results.
Office treatments may also include heat and/or light to increase the efficacy of the whitening procedure. Treatments generally take 30 to 60 minutes and produce impressive whitening results – usually three to eight shades brighter. Some treatments may take as long as two hours depending on the kit technique used.
In-office whitening treatments vary in cost but typically run between $500 and $1,000. Results can last several years.
At-Home Teeth Brightening
At-home options for treating stained teeth are becoming increasingly popular. The main home-based whitening methods are described below.
Whitening Strips Whitening strips and gels contain varying concentrations of peroxide and are applied directly the the surface of teeth. Their application involves sticking a gel-filled strip to teeth for about 30 minutes or brushing on a gel.
Both methods are typically applied once or twice a day for a short period of time (often around 10 to 14 days). They are relatively inexpensive – ranging from $10 to $50 – and provide results that last several months (about four to six or possibly longer).
Tray Systems These systems involve trays filled with bleaching gel that fit your teeth like a mouth guard. The peroxide-based gel is left on for an hour or more a day for several weeks. Results can last several months and the cost ranges from $150 to upwards of $600.
Whitening Toothpaste Although the mild abrasive properties in all toothpastes help them remove stains, whitening toothpastes are designed to be even more effective. Whitening toothpaste contains a combination of polishing agents, chemicals, and small amounts of peroxide formulated to address discoloration.
Although whitening toothpaste is unlikely to produce dramatic results, it can still help slightly brighten teeth – usually about one shade – or help prolong results obtained from other whitening treatments.
Whether you opted for at-home kits or professional whitening, it is important to practice healthy mouth care habits. By brushing and flossing daily and minimizing your intake of foods and beverages that are known to cause staining, your results will be prolonged.
If you are struggling with discolored teeth, consider testing out one of the whitening options mentioned above. Both at home and professional treatments can help you obtain a more beautiful smile. Consider talking to your dentist about professional treatment options or his or her recommendations for at-home kits.
Guest post contribution made by The Center for Dental Excellence, a dentist in Pocatello, Idaho , Idaho offering comfortable care with the latest procedures from teeth cleaning to dental implants to cosmetic dentistry.
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