Brighten Up for Summer.
The passing of a long winter and the arrival of warmer temperatures signals the advent of flowers, outdoor activities, grilling and bright, healthy looking smiles! Tooth Whitening or "Bleaching" is the most requested procedure in the dental office. Whitening is a safe, non-invasive procedure which helps you achieve a brilliant and healthy looking smile, usually within 2 weeks!
Many systems are available both over the counter (OTC) and through your dental office. The results you are able to achieve are dependent upon the system (time the material is used and concentration of the whitening agent), your individual chemistry, baseline tooth shade, and things you ingest which would tend to stain or discolor your teeth.
The available systems are fall into the folowing categories:
-Rinses and Pastes
-OTC Tray Systems
-Professional Tray Systems
-In Office Chairside Procedures
Rinses and Pastes tend to be a lower concentration of whitening agent and are quickly diluted by saliva. These therefore have a very small effect on the overall color of your teeth. They are however, reasonably effective in maintaining your color after a more definitive whitening procedure by helping to prevent future staining. Choose only those items which contain fluoride and have little or no alcohol present in the formulation.
OTC Strips are slightly more effective but still tend to be a lower concentration and poorly adapt to the tooth surfaces, making them difficult to position and keep in place. They are highly variable in their effectiveness.
OTC Tray Systems provide a higher concentration of whitening agent and provide average results. Tray adaptation is the biggest problem leading to thermal and acidic sensitivity, chemical irritation of the gum tissue and in some cases, unpredictable whitening patterns.
Professional Tray Systems provide the highest concentration of material within a custom made tray which fits perfectly around the teeth to be whitened. The results are very good to excellent. The tray prevents the agent from contacting the gum tissue and causing irritation. Most systems have a desensitizing agent to minimize or prevent any thermal or acidic sensitivity of the teeth and root surfaces.
In Office Procedures typically are more expensive and while immediate results may be good, there appears to be more relapse. In addition to spending more time in the dental chair, with many of these systems, custom trays are recommended as a follow up to treatment. These procedures are most effective in dealing with shade differences between individual teeth.
A brighter smile can be achieved within a short period of time with minimal expense. Please have an evaluation by your dental professional to see which system is right for you. Enjoy your summer!