Teeth Whitening: Pros and Cons

Before and after shot of teeth whitening

If you’re a regular coffee or tea drinker, or have used tobacco, chances are your teeth aren’t as pearly-white as they used to be. Tooth staining will affect almost everyone to some degree, but your habits and genetics can determine the extent. The good news is that you can take measures to counter tooth discoloration.

Almost every company that sells oral hygiene items touts a line of products designed to whiten your teeth: from toothpaste, to oral rinses and even dental floss, to whitening strips and trays. Professional procedures at your dentist’s office can offer more immediate results.

Most teeth whitening systems use hydrogen peroxide as their active bleaching agent.  The peroxide comes in higher concentrations than the $2, brown bottles sold in stores, so rinsing with it will not whiten your teeth. According to the Consumer Guide to Dentistry, take-home strips sell between $20 and $100, take-home trays range from $100 to $400, and in-office procedures cost an average of $650.

The results of whitening treatments depend on your polishing potential, as some people have naturally whiter teeth than others. People with dark or deeply-stained teeth might benefit from procedures that coat your teeth artificially. The choice that is right for you depends largely on your budget, time and condition of your teeth.

The most common side effect you will experience as a result of teeth whitening is increased sensitivity—either of the teeth, gums or both—which is usually temporary. Overuse of whitening agents also can erode the teeth, so it is best to talk to a dental professional before you begin any whitening regimen or procedure.

Types of Teeth Whitening Methods and Systems

  • Whitening toothpaste

    Whitening toothpaste can help brighten your teeth by lessening mild surface stains. The toothpaste often will include abrasive properties that polish the teeth, and a bleaching agent. Whitening toothpaste can produce results in about six weeks if used at least twice per day, but remember that it will not alter the natural color of your teeth or travel beyond the surface to remove deep stains.

  • Porcelain Veneers

    A dental professional places thin, shell-like structures over your teeth that are whiter than their natural shades. Because these shells are bonded to your teeth, the whitening effects are immediate. Veneers are a good choice if your teeth are discolored naturally, or because of a medication or illness.

  • Bonding

    The dentist bonds a resin composite to the teeth to achieve a whiter look and improve the shape. The results are instant, but because the resin wears down over time, you will need to repeat the procedure to maintain the results.

  • Home Bleaching Kits

    Home-bleaching kits come in whitening strips or trays. Whitening strips are applied directly to the teeth, and are usually peroxide based. Trays allow you to fit a mouth guard filled with peroxide-based gel over your teeth. You can purchase these over-the-counter, or have your dentist mold a custom guard. You can apply these treatments for a few weeks, and should see results by the conclusion.

  • Power Whitening

    To power whiten your teeth, a dentist will apply peroxide with a laser to give you immediate whitening. He will need to place apply a protective agent over your gums and lips to guard them from the high concentration of peroxide. The procedure is safe for your teeth, and can last several years.

Whitening is a great option for some patients after braces are removed. Orthodontic Associates recommends you speak to your general dentist to go over all of the different teeth whitening options they have in their offices. We look forward to providing you the best experience in braces possible. Contact us at any of our nine convenient locations around Baltimore, and see how we can help you get a healthy bite and a winning smile.


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