Tooth whitening made simple

By Dr. Brian Gardiner, FLT News Columnist

Major life events such as weddings, anniversaries, reunions and job interviews are times in our lives when we want to look our very best. A beautiful smile not only looks great, but can also increase your confidence. One of the quickest ways to improve your smile is by bleaching your teeth.

There several whitening options available:

Whitening toothpaste/whitening strips — one of the least expensive ways to whiten is to use one or both of these products. Whitening toothpastes and strips remove surface stains only and usually have a limited effect for people with naturally darker teeth. They usually contain a three to 10 percent concentration of peroxide — the prominent agent in most teeth whitening products. I highly recommend using a well-known brand found at your local retail store. Be sure to follow directions on the box as some bleaching products can cause damage to skin and gums.

A more effective way to whiten is to have your dentist make trays which are customized to fully cover your teeth. This allows a stronger concentration of peroxide, 15 to 35 percent, to stay in contact with your teeth for a longer period of time. You trays can be used again over time to “touch-up” your teeth as needed. This custom take-home whitening process usually takes two appointments. The first appointment is used to take impressions to construct stone models of your teeth. These models are then used to make the trays which hold the peroxide to your teeth. You will receive your trays and bleaching material, along with personalized instructions for use at your second appointment.

Your dentist can also do “in-office” whitening. Sometimes lights are used in this process to activate the peroxide to achieve a faster result. This usually takes one hour and will involve multiple applications of the peroxide to the teeth during the course of your appointment.

Patients with tetracycline or more stubborn stains have seen great results with the Kor™ bleaching method. This method involves the manufacturing and use of very specific, lab-created, custom trays and alternating between in-office and take home bleaching. The results of this process can be amazing and long-lasting.

Before you undertake any of the whitening processes, it is important to ensure your teeth are clean, healthy and free of decay. Some patients experience a short period of mild and temporary sensitivity. Using a toothpaste designed to treat sensitivity can help reduce the severity.

If you have any questions concerning this, or any other dental topics please feel free to call my office, Dental Reflections, at 419-866-2400.