These days we see marketing for all kinds of products that claim to whiten your teeth; from toothpaste and mouth rinse to chewing gum and toothbrushes with charcoal-infused bristles. The truth is that most of them work to one degree or another*. If you’re looking for a subtle change in the shade of your teeth, you can try any (or all) of these and over time, you will see a difference.
If you’re looking for a more noticeable change, there are many options waiting for you on the shelf of your favourite pharmacy. Over-the-counter bleaching products are widely available and relatively easy to use. They commonly involve strips that are placed over your top and bottom teeth that remain in place for a period of time while the peroxide-infused gel whitens your teeth. Easy, not terribly expensive and you can whiten while you catch up on your Twitter feed.
Another option is to have your dentist professionally supervise the whitening of your teeth. The procedure is a not unlike what you would do at home, it is just done with more precision and oversight. Models of your teeth are made to create a custom tray that will hold the gel bleach agent, and photographs are taken to document the natural shade of your teeth. You simply put the trays in your mouth once a day and return to the dentist for an evaluation visit after two weeks of treatment. Usually it takes three appointments from start to finish. Eventually, when your tooth colour relapses back to the original shade, a re-treat is very simple because you already have custom trays and know the shade you want to match.
Before you invest in any of these options, you should know that bleaching your teeth will not change the colour of any dental work you’ve had done in the past. If you have fillings, crowns or veneers at the front of your mouth, you might not be a good candidate for bleaching because the whiter shade will not match the colour of your dental work.
Once you’ve whitened your teeth, whether on your own or with your dentist’s help, your teeth will stay whiter for longer if you avoid coffee, tea, red wine, blueberries and smoking. But back to the the original question: it’s not all marketing – when you use tooth whitening products as part of your regular dental hygiene routine, they can and will give you a brighter smile.
Dr. Ken Rhodenizer, DDS
* Scientifically speaking, the jury is still out on whether charcoal infused products safely create a noticeable difference in the whiteness of your teeth.