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Frequently Asked Questions on Teeth Whitening


 
 

How are Teeth Whitened?

There are more products available every year to help whiten your teeth. But behind them all, there are really only two scientific approaches to a brighter smile: one is surface stain removal and the other is interior bleaching.

Two Methods of Teeth Whitening

Surface Stain Removal encompasses the use of abrasives, detergents and/or special ingredients that basically "rub" the tooth's surface clean–making it seem whiter. Toothpastes, rinses, wands and brush-ons each remove stains from the tooth’s exterior. The effectiveness of each method is fairly logical - toothpastes that are used once or more a day can do a very good job - and lots of people see a difference in their smiles. Rinses, wands and brush-ons may not deliver a visible result, but, used regularly can help prevent additional surface stains from forming. All-in-all, surface stain removal techniques are inexpensive and effective–unless you have a dental issue or are looking for more dramatic results.

Interior Bleaching typically produces a shade change of up to 10+ shades, in as little as 60 minutes or as long as two weeks. The whitening happens when a peroxide formula is carried through the tooth’s dentin via microscopic "rods" to reach and whiten underneath the tooth's enamel. To date, carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide are the only active whitening agents used in the formulas delivered to the enamel. Carbamide peroxide is a lower-intensity version of its hydrogen parent, so you’ll find it in over-the-counter products. The strip and mouth-tray kits you purchase at drug or discount stores contain carbamide peroxide.

Hydrogen peroxide is used for higher-powered whitening, like the treatments your dentist performs in-office or the kits you take home from the dentist. If you choose an in-office procedure, whether or not you use lights is up to you; independent research has shown that “light activation” doesn’t produce statistically consistent enhancements. If you’re prone to sensitivity reactions, most dentists will take extra care when prescribing or recommending whitening treatments.

Budget, Oral Health and Goals

Choose your teeth whitening method based on budget, your general oral health and your personal teeth whitening goals. If you’re looking to save money, check out our site for well reviewed over the counter whitening methods. If you’re looking for fast and dramatic results, we’ve got you covered there, too. But above all, make sure you’re in good oral health overall; any and all whitening treatments can cause discomfort or worse if you’re not taking good care of your gums and teeth.

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