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Teeth Whitening - Which Option Is Best For You?

Christine O'Kelly
Aug 30, 2008
A bright white smile is desired by almost everyone. Some people are satisfied with the results they get simply by using a routine of regular oral hygiene which includes brushing twice a day with toothpaste that contains fluoride, flossing between your teeth to promote healthy gums and visiting your dentist in San Jose on regular basis for a professional cleaning.

However, if you decide you'd like to go beyond these steps and take your smile to the next level there are several varieties of products and procedures available to help you achieve the desired smile you've always wanted. Each product or procedure has its advantages and disadvantages. You may want to consult a cosmetic dentist to help you to determine which option works best for you.

Whitening Toothpastes

Whitening toothpaste is the most inexpensive and easy method of brightening your teeth it can be a supplement or alternative to other procedures. Basically, whitening toothpaste is harmless as it is approved by the American Dental Association (ADA). This particular type of toothpaste works by removing an invisible film that is on teeth, called pellicle, which allows stains from coffee, berries, etc. to stick to the enamel. It's important to note this is more of a preventative procedure since they can prevent stains from sticking to your teeth they do not actually whiten them.

If your teeth are already heavily stained, it won't matter how much you brush them with whitening toothpaste -- they will not get brighter. The advantage of using the toothpaste is the fact they may not get any worse. It will take you a very long time to notice any difference in whitening and even then it won't be very dramatic. Just remember to check with your cosmetic dentist and to look for the ADA seal of approval.

At Home Bleaching Kits

A popular alternative used by many people is an at home bleaching kit. The typical bleaching kit comes with a bleaching tray that is designed as a one size fits all. You normally would need to keep the tray in your mouth for about two hours per day and follow this routine for a two-week period. Most systems include a tray for the upper and lower sets of teeth and can range in cost from about $49 - $120.

Usually a cosmetic dentist would not recommend these home-bleaching kits. The lack of custom fitting of the bleaching trays and no supervision can allow the gel in the kit that is designed to bleach your teeth to irritate your gums. Although many people are happy with the results and have had no problems you should check with your dentist. Also, make sure your home bleaching kit has been approved by the ADA.

A Safer Home Bleaching Alternative

A cosmetic dentist may be consulted about obtaining a custom made dental tray to do your home teeth bleaching. At your office visit a tray is made specifically to fit your mouth. Your dentist then provides you with the whitening gel to use at home. Similar to over the counter products the trays are worn for an hour or two daily for a two-week period. Normally, you would have a follow up visit after two weeks to make sure everything is going according to plan. These supervised home bleaching kits can range from $300 to $500.

Professional Power Bleaching

Professional power bleach performed by a certified cosmetic dentist is the most effective way to whiten your teeth. After this procedure is done, you most likely will not need any kind of touch up for a couple of years.

You should be aware that any kind of bleaching techniques, whether at home products or professional, might cause tooth sensitivity during the treatment process. This is a problem particularly with cold foods and drinks. You should also be aware that if you have crowns, laminates or teeth that have been bonded the whitening process would not work on these teeth.

It's possible to have your teeth whitened in one sitting, as long as price is not an issue. The cost can range anywhere from $400 to over $1,000 (the prices varies so much as often discounts may be obtained since this is a popular procedure). The time involved can range from 30 minutes to two hours, again depending on your dentist's technique and how dramatic of a change you're looking for.

In the process a dental tray is customized for you then the bleaching gel that is highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide combined with carbamide peroxide is added. You'll keep the tray in place from 30 to 60 minutes. Heat and light exposure help to break down the gel allowing oxygen to enter the enamel and bleach only colored substances. This does not change the structure of your teeth.
About the Author
Christine O'Kelly is an author for the Zeidler Dental Group, a dentist in San Jose specializing in all aspects of both routine and cosmetic dentistry. The group is currently accepting any new patients looking for a San Jose cosmetic dentist.
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