The demand for tooth whitening products has never been so high, and consumers’ options are broader than ever. If you’re hoping to brighten your smile but not sure where to start, read on.
Before You Bleach
In advance of any whitening treatment, it’s essential that you establish a regular checkup and cleaning habit at your dentist. This is for two important reasons. Firstly, the cleaner your teeth, the better your whitening product will perform, so it’s a simple matter of dollars and cents. But more importantly, seeing your dentist often will ensure that any potential problems are addressed before you apply strong whitening chemicals to your teeth–chemicals that can worsen irritation of existing oral health issues.
No matter what the current state of your oral health is, your dentist is an invaluable resource for helping you choose the best whitening products for your needs, as they have a detailed knowledge of your oral health history.
Options for Whitening Your Smile
There are two approaches consumers can choose from when looking to whiten teeth: bleaching products and non-bleaching products. The former category describes products which contain peroxide; these products offer deep-stain bleaching in addition to surface-level whitening. Non-bleaching products work, by contrast, to break down only the stains that exist on the surface level, or enamel, of the tooth.
Bleaching products come in a wide array of options, from strips to trays. Over the counter (OTC) bleaching products generally contain less peroxide than products that can be professionally administered by your dentist. The biggest difference between these two categories is the speed with which you will get results. OTC products require repeat usage over days or weeks, whereas in-office treatments are generally faster and more efficient. Some dentists also offer take-home bleaching regiments, complete with trays made special for each patient.
Non-bleaching products are mostly limited to whitening toothpastes. As the ADA explains, these products remove surface stains via “polishing, chemical chelation, or some other non-bleaching actions.” Tooth-whitening toothpastes can take up to a month to lighten smiles, so there is a bit of a time investment, but they boast a much lower price tag than bleach-containing products. These products are an excellent option for those interested in gentle tooth whitening. They’re also a perfect solution for folks who are coffee or wine drinkers who experience light enamel (surface) staining but are otherwise diligent about oral health.