Teeth Whitening Options

By Aaron Strickland, D.D.S. on April 25, 2018


If you’re searching for ways to make your pearly-whites look pearly-whiter, take a look at the teeth whitening options below.


For many of us, there’s nothing better than that first cup of coffee in the morning or hot tea before bedtime. Others might enjoy an occasional soda or glass of wine. While these may be enjoyable in the moment, the things we eat and drink can leave us with stained teeth that aren’t quite so satisfying. Feeling good about your smile can have a big impact on your confidence and self-esteem, and often no amount of brushing will erase the stains. Fortunately, there are options to lighten tooth discoloration and prevent teeth from becoming more discolored over time. Take a look at the teeth whitening options below to help decide which product might be right for you.


Whitening Strips


In recent years, over-the-counter tooth whitening products have become increasingly popular. Whitening strips were one of the first products to hit the market and continue to remain one of the most popular at-home teeth whitening treatments.


Teeth whitening strips are thin disposable pieces of flexible plastic that are coated in peroxide. Users attach the strips to their teeth by pressing them around the front and back of the teeth. Users then wear them for a designated amount of time (often 20-30 minutes) each day for one to two weeks. Results typically last around four months, and repeat treatments may be desired.


Whitening strips provide an entirely DIY treatment that can be completed at home without professional supervision. Cost is relatively minimal, but users have to be consistent with application to see results.


Tray Whitening


There are two types of tray whitening methods: dentist-provided trays, and over-the-counter trays. Tray whitening products work in a similar way to whitening strips, with peroxide as a whitening agent, but the application method is different.


Dentist-provided whitening trays offer an at-home whitening option that is supervised by the dentist. Users are given a custom-molded tray from their dentist to be worn at home for a prescribed amount of time. A whitening gel is placed inside the tray, then pressed against the user’s teeth. This method does require a visit to the dentist for impressions to be made, but it is a convenient way for users to manage a gradual change at home.


Store bought whitening trays work in the same way as dentist-provided trays, but they have an unfortunate reputation of fitting uncomfortably. Because of this, the peroxide gel can ooze out on the user’s gums and cause irritation. If you’re looking to go the whitening tray method, you might consider using the dentist-provided trays instead.


Toothpaste and Mouthwash


Nearly every brand of dental care products carries a “whitening” toothpaste or mouthwash. While some of them contain stain-removing whitening agents, such as peroxide or baking soda, many of them work by remineralizing teeth. Although some scientists believe that remineralizing teeth is nearly impossible, there are still plenty of toothpastes and other dental products out there marketed to do just that.


As we age, the enamel that covers our teeth weakens and begins to crack. These tiny micro-cracks begin to pick up stains from the things we eat and drink. With hardened enamel, our teeth are able to stand a chance against these tiny cracks and thus are more resistant to stains. So, many of the whitening toothpastes aren’t made to whiten teeth, so much as they are made to prevent future stains by hardening enamel. This is an important distinction when deciding which teeth whitening products might be right for you.


DIY Teeth Whitening


With the rise of social media, we have seen a resurgence of DIY-everything, including DIY teeth whitening. Peroxide, baking soda, apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, peppermint leaf, and charcoal have all been purported to whiten teeth.


While we can’t speak to the effectiveness of these methods, we do want to remind you to be informed. Some of the methods instruct users to create a paste to brush on teeth, but a DIY paste can be abrasive and actually end up damaging the enamel of the teeth. So, while teeth may seem whiter at first, damaged enamel can lead to teeth that are more vulnerable to stains in the long run. If this is the method you choose, just remember to do your research first.


In-Chair Whitening


If you’re looking for a change that is delivers results faster than the gradual at-home options, in-chair whitening is designed to be just that. In-chair teeth whitening refers to a dentist-supervised procedure such as BriteSmile® or Phillips Zoom!®.


Philips Zoom!® is one of the most well-known in-chair teeth whitening brands. Zoom!® users appreciate its effective, quick results in a safe and controlled environment. This in-chair teeth whitening treatment uses a highly concentrated peroxide whitening gel and utilizes a proprietary blue light which stimulates the whitening process. This system allows for immediate results, as opposed to the gradual change of trays and strips.


In-chair whitening offers a nearly instant change, with results in just over an hour. Results typically last for about six months. As with any of the other teeth whitening options, touch-ups may be needed occasionally, as teeth tend to darken over time.  Users may feel some sensitivity in the days following the procedure, but this usually subsides after a couple of days. In-chair teeth whitening options are often the most expensive, but are the fastest, easiest, and longest-lasting options.


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Everyone was very professional, yet very laid back, making an unpleasant procedure much easier to have done. The follow-up​ call from the doctor showed that he cares about his patients. Stephanie C.

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