Quite a few patients have asked for information on enhancing their smile through teeth whitening. The following information should answer some of these questions.
What color is your smile?
Teeth come in many shades and can change color from a variety of causes. The color can be affected by many factors. Stains from food and drink can darken teeth over time. Illness can discolor dentin (the calcium-containing part of a tooth), and heredity or environmental factors can discolor both dentin and enamel. Injury and use of certain antibiotics during pregnancy can also affect tooth color.
But you don’t have to live with a dull smile if a brighter one is important to you.
Are store-bought teeth whiteners effective and safe?
As long as you don’t expect too much, some over-the-counter teeth whiteners do work to some degree and are generally safe. These products fall into four main types:
- Trays: either plastic or rubber, these are typically filled with a peroxide-based whitening agent and are placed of the upper and lower teeth. Some people do see results but the “one-size-fits-all” nature of the trays means they can cut into the gums or interfere with a person’s bite, possibly causing temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems.
- Strips: typically coated with hydrogen peroxide that are “taped” to the front teeth. While research supports their limited effectiveness, many people find it difficult to reliably stick the strips to their teeth.
- Painted-On: these are products that are applied with a brush, much like a fingernail polish. The gel hardens into a clear film. It is difficult to keep the gel from being washed away by saliva or rubbed away by the lips before it hardens.
- Toothpaste: these use silica or other abrasives to rub away superficial stains rather than actually whiten the teeth. Not only do these toothpastes fail to whiten teeth, they may also be harmful by gradually removing enamel.
Generally speaking, with these products you get what you pay for.
What products does your office offer?
Our office provides two very different forms of teeth whitening: trays and Zoom!®. The difference between these two applications boil down to price and convenience – not necessiraly results!
- Custom-fitted bleach trays are a little less expensive than in-office bleaching and need to be applied multiple times. When you choose this method the dental assistant will take a bite impression of your teeth to manufacture a custom-fitted appliance that is an exact replication of your mouth. After these trays have been adjusted for proper fitting you are then given tubes of bleach. At home you then apply the bleach to the front of the tray and insert the lower and upper tray into your mouth keeping them in for 2 to 4 hours or overnight if desired. Generally, this type of whitening takes about 10 – 12 applications. Our patients typically see an increase of 4 – 6 color shades
- Zoom! is an in-office bleaching system that takes about an hour to complete. When choosing this method the dental assistant will prepare your mouth for a high-intensity light that works in combination with gel applied directly to your teeth. After three – 15 minute sessions your teeth will be bleached. It’s that easy! Our patients typically see an increase of 6 – 8 color shades.
For pricing of these two options or for additional information please contact our office at 360-715-3333.
Dr. Faith Bult