Teeth whitening is a simple and cost-effective treatment that brightens the smile. It can be used to simply remove stains to return teeth to their natural appearance or as a bleaching process that lightens the dentin inside the teeth, creating a whiter look. While whitening will work for most patients, those who have darkened teeth will not see optimal results.
Teeth Whitening Systems
There are several whitening systems available to patients.
- Zoom whitening. The dentist will protect the gums, cheeks and lips with barriers and place a peroxide gel on the teeth. After one hour, the patient will see up to a two or three-shade difference in tooth color.
- Opalescence Go whitening. This system uses pre-made trays that utilize natural mouth suction to fit on the teeth. There are six trays for both the lower and upper teeth, and the patient wears them for 60 minutes per day. The trays can be thrown away after use and do not require an appointment for a custom fitting.
- Custom-tray whitening. This approach is sometimes preferred because it puts the patient in complete control of the process. After the dentist takes impressions of the teeth to create custom trays, the patient only needs to fill the trays with a special whitening gel and wear them for a certain period of time every day. The process can be stopped when the desired whitening has been achieved. The patient can periodically use the trays and gel again for maintenance.
- Whitening strips. While this method offers the convenience of being available at most stores, it does not provide the same results as prescription whitening systems.
Whitening Maintenance Aftercare
The length of time whitening will last depends on the lifestyle habits of the patient. Avoiding beverages like coffee, tea, coffee and red wine will extend the whitening period. Whitening strips and stain-removing toothpaste can be helpful but will not restore the previous level of brightness. In some cases, professional treatment will need to be repeated.
For those who do not have extensive dental issues, whitening is a great choice for a brighter smile.