Which Whitening Option is Best for Me?
Whitening options galore? We understand! Let’s take a look at what type of products are out there and which might be best for you.
Many of our patients (and staff!) have sensitive teeth. In our patients who have pre-existing sensitivity, certain whitening options can exacerbate the issue. If you find yourself in this camp, your first step in any whitening option will be to use a sensitive toothpaste. These pastes work by closing the little tunnels in your teeth that make your teeth porous. These tunnels are what transmit the signal from the food or drink causing sensitivity down into the nerve. By blocking this conduit, we can effectively reduce symptoms of sensitivity.
When looking for a whitening option, you want to look for a product that has shorter application time with longer overall use. For instance, if whitening at home, it will be better from a sensitivity perspective to whiten for 15 minutes a day for 14 days rather than 30 minutes a day for 7 days. For this reason, it is not recommended to use the in-office whitening option for highly sensitive patients.
Best Product: Custom Whitening Trays
To get an exact replica of your oral tissues, we take an impression of your mouth. From there, we fabricate a soft, plastic tray that will hold the whitening gel. The tray is trimmed to remove as much material as possible from the gum tissue so whitening gel is not sitting on those areas during the whitening sessions. Finally, you will try the tray in and be sure you can comfortably get it in and out. The rest of the whitening process is done from the comfort of your home. For sensitive patients we recommend starting off at 15 minutes per day for 14 days. We recommend decreasing usage to every other day if sensitivity is enhanced. It is best in this situation to take longer to get to your whitest shade rather than speeding up the process and potentially increasing sensitivity more permanently.
Whitening for special occasions is increasing in popularity. Whether you’re getting married, graduating or accepting an award, everyone wants a brighter smile for all those photo ops! In-office whitening using an LED light is a great option for these patients! If you have no existing tooth decay and do not have unusually sensitive teeth, the in-office whitening will be the fastest way to get to your whitest shade in just one visit.
Best Product: In Office LED Whitening
The first step in this process is to polish your teeth! We want them to be free of all plaque and tarter so they are able to absorb as much whitening solution as possible. Next we will apply a barrier to the soft tissue. This is a crucial step in the process and can be time consuming. Ensuring the barrier is correctly placed is essential to maintaining patient comfort throughout the procedure. The whitening gel will not permanently damage soft tissue if used properly; however, if left on too long, the tissue can start to tingle and burn. Next we apply the whitening gel and the light placed for the first of three 15 minute sessions. As long as no sensitivity ensues, the patient will under go two following treatments. We remove the barrier and you are done! Teeth, like sponges, have a maximum they can absorb. Keep in mind most patients whiten 2-3 shades in one session.
For many people, cost is a large factor when considering whitening options. There are several over the counter products that can produce results and are a good option if finances are limited for whitening procedures.
Best Product: Whitening Strips
Many brands offer a whitening strip product commonly found in mainstream stores. As it is with most products, the results can vary depending upon correct use of the product, consistency and strength. You’ll want to look for products with the highest amount of hydrogen peroxide as this is the whitening agent in the strip. The percentage is not always available on the label; however, it should be one of the first two or three items listed on the ingredients list. The key to using whitening strips is not to talk while they are in. These strips are not custom made for your mouth so they can slip around on the teeth, especially with a lot of motion like talking, singing, etc.
Other Whitening Options:
Toothpaste – Typically, whitening toothpaste has very limited results. We do not recommend whitening toothpaste to patients with sensitivity as the “grit” in the paste is used for whitening and this can actually damage the outer layer of the tooth. In a sensitive patient, the outer layer of the tooth is already compromised and this grit can do further damage.
Gel with LED Light – Spas and tanning salons frequently offer a product in this category. A licensed dentist should always supervise your whitening process. Whitening on your own, especially with an LED activated gel product, can be very dangerous if incorrectly applied to the teeth. It will increase sensitivity and can cause damage to the soft gum tissues if left on too long.
Whitening Pens – These pens offer very limited results. Typically they can result in white, patchy spots on the teeth and do not yield desired results in most cases. We do not recommend this product to our patients.
In conclusion – a whiter smile is fairly easy to achieve and can be painless as long as you follow the recommended guidelines. To schedule a whitening consultation with our office, click here!