Tooth whitening (also known as tooth bleaching) has become an increasingly popular way to achieve a brighter smile. Reasons people may want their smile whitened include:
- Surface stains from food, drinks, or smoking
- Discoloration from age or trauma
- Unhappy with natural tooth shade
|Type of Stain
The most common whitening agents used are carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide. When broken down, oxygen enters the enamel and lightens the tooth shade.
Over-the-Counter vs. Professional Whitening Methods
So you've noticed your pearly whites aren't looking as bright lately or maybe they've never been that white at all. Believe me, you're not alone! Dull or discolored teeth something just about everyone deals with at some point. The good news is there are lots of ways to get your smile shining again if you know the pros and cons of all the options out there.
I know it can get confusing trying to figure out at-home kits vs going into the dentist's office for whitening treatments. I've tried those drugstore whitening strips before too and they didn't seem to do much. And who really knows if those activated charcoal powders you mix up are safe for your enamel? It's hard to tell what's hype and what's really effective.
Well, don't worry - I'm going to break it all down so you know exactly what will (and won't!) give you that fabulous Hollywood white grin...
Over-the-Counter Whitening: Fast, Affordable, But Limited Strength
Let's kick things off with over-the-counter (OTC) whiteners first. When I think OTC, I think of those whitening strips and gels I picked up once at my local CVS. You've probably seen them too next to the toothpaste aisle with attention grabbing packaging showing super white teeth. The great pro of these is how easy OTC options are to grab and start using that day. No prescription needed and even if it doesn't work, you've likely only spent 30 bucks or so to test it out.
Some popular types of OTC products you'll see are:
- Whitening toothpastes - Use mild abrasives and low chemical concentrates to remove surface stains
- Whitening gels - Clear peroxide gels applied by small brush to teeth
- Whitening strips - Thin strips coated with whitening gel worn for 30-60 minutes
- Whitening rinses - Swished liquid to reach stains, freshens breath
So what's the catch? Well, one is that OTC whiteners can only use up to a certain low level of carbamide peroxide, usually around 10-22%. Without a higher concentration or custom tray getting the gel directly on your teeth, you only get mediocre lightening power. Maybe a shade or two if you're lucky. Still, could be a quick inexpensive test to see if you want brighter teeth.
Oh, and don't get me started on those charcoal pastes and weird home remedies you see all over Pinterest! No proof they truly lighten and they can really damage enamel and gum tissue. I'd skip 'em if I were you
Dentist-Prescribed Customizable Trays - Moderate Whitening With Added Precision
Okay, so OTC strips or gels didn't give you that megawatt bright smile you were hoping for. Don't throw in the whitening towel yet! Many dentists offer custom whitening trays that give you WAY better results than drugstore kits.
With these, your dentist makes a mold of your teeth so trays fit exactly to your smile. No one-size-fits-all business going on here. You'll get fitted trays and whitening gel with a higher carbamide peroxide concentration your dentist prescribes - usually 15-22%.
How's it work?
- Your dentist takes mold of teeth
- Custom trays fabricated to fit your smile
- Given teeth whitening gel with higher peroxide %
- Apply gel daily for 1-4 weeks
- Visible lightening in first week!
The benefit of custom trays is that yup, they cost more than those CVS whitening strips, but you also get tailored whitening specific to YOUR teeth. And better results too - we're talking multiple shades brighter in two weeks!
In-Office Whitening with Dentist - Fastest Way to Dramatically Brighten Smile
Ready to crank up the whiteninganother notch? Then my friend, in-office whitening is for you! This is done by your dentist in a single visit, using the highest grade professional whitening gel packed with a potent hydrogen peroxide. We're talking 15-43% here people.
This stuff is the real deal. In just one 30-90 minute sesh you walk out with a smile that's multiple shades lighter!
How's it work?
- Protect gums with gel or rubber shield
- Whitening gel applied directly on teeth
- Special light/laser used to activate gel
- Very high peroxide concentration
- See dramatic results immediately!
With this in-office treatment, stains from years of coffee, red wine and more get lightened extremely fast. We're talking whiter teeth in an hour fast. Yes, it costs more than OTC and trays from your dentist. But if you've got a special event coming up or just want a smile makeover ASAP, it's the dentist-supervised way to go.
Dealing with Sensitivity for Whitening Treatments
Alright, so you're pumped about getting your teeth professionally whitened after reading about all those options. I don't blame you - who wouldn't want a gorgeous, megawatt smile? But before you grab the closest appointment to start zapping stains, there's one little thing you should know...
Whitening treatments can sometimes make your teeth extra sensitive or even downright uncomfortable. I know, I know, not what you want to hear. But don't freak out! Teeth sensitivity during or after whitening is pretty common and thankfully very manageable. Want to get those pearly whites gleaming without turning into a hot and cold mess? Let me break down exactly why sensitivity happens and - more importantly - how to prevent it...
Why Whitening Causes Sensitivity Anyway
I know what you're thinking: why do teeth get sensitive from products designed to brighten smiles? Great question. Here's the deal...
When you use gels or treatments with bleaching chemicals like carbamide or hydrogen peroxide, it opens up your tooth enamel temporarily. This allows the oxygen from the gel to penetrate deep into your teeth's inner layer, the dentin.
Here's where sensitivity can happen - the dentin has tiny nerve endings that react to hot and cold. With enamel opened up during whitening, air, food, liquid, etc can trigger a pain response from those exposed nerves. No bueno!
Don't let that scare you though...getting a megawatt smile doesn't have to hurt. We can work around it!
Tips to Prevent Painful Sensitivity
Alright, so now that we know why sensitivity strikes, let's talk about how to slay it before it ruins your whitening plans. Try these tips and tricks use before and during treatments:
1. Strengthen enamel pre-whitening
- Use fluoride toothpaste for 2 weeks beforehand
- Brush gently with soft brush
- If major sensitivity, try Rx strength toothpaste
2. Talk to your dentist
- Discuss concerns beforehand
- They can map any super sensitive spots
3. Take it slow
- Shorter whitening sessions
- Only once a day, not twice
- Extend total treatment timeline
4. Skip alcohol in gels
- Alcohol dries out teeth worsening sensitivity
- Use non-alcohol whitening gel
5. Load up on KN03
- Potassium nitrate calms nerve reactions
- Use potassium nitrate toothpaste
Still experiencing annoying sensitivity a week+ after whitening? Don't ignore it - check in with your dentist to rule out other issues. Trying those tips first though can help you brighten your smile pain-free!
And hey pro-tip: take ibuprofen or acetaminophen 30 minutes before appointment to help reduce post-whitening sensitivity. You got this!
Top Products to Reduce Whitening Sensitivity
Still nervous about flaring up sensitivity during teeth whitening? Try adding these pre- and post-whitening products into your brightening routine:
|Sensodyne Rapid Relief Toothpaste
|Maximum strength Potassium Nitrate. Use 2x daily before whitening
|Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief Toothpaste
|Gentle cleaning formula, extra soft bristles
|Crest Gum Detoxify Toothpaste
|Neutralizes gingival sensitivity. Use 2x daily
|Orajel Tooth Sensitivity Treatment
|Brush-on relief last 3 months
|CloSYS Ultra Sensitive Mouthwash
|Soothes nerves and moisturizes mouth
I always keep a few of these handy before and after any whitening sessions. They really help avoid that sharp zing if cold water hits my teeth! Having any of these on deck means you can get your pearliest whites without the pain.
Alright, that wraps it up for tips to keep sensitivity at bay during brightening treatments! Now that you know how to prevent it, you can go into whitening feeling prepared and pain-free. Got any other great tricks for sensitivity relief? Share below for your fellow smile seekers - avoiding discomfort means more people can show off those gleaming grins!
Professional In-Office Whitening Treatment
Alright! You've weighed all the tooth whitening options and decided kicking it up a notch with professional in-office care is how you want to brighten that smile. I'm right there with ya! Getting that celebrity-level gleam in a single dentist visit sounds pretty awesome if you ask me.
But what exactly happens when you step into the dentist's chair for intensive teeth whitening? Can it really give you dramatically whiter teeth in one appointment? And how the heck do lights and lasers help activate whitening gels anyway?
Grab your shades because I'm breaking down everything you need to know before saying "ahhh" for that brighter smile...
The Step-by-Step Process
Let's start by walking through what you can expect when you go for an in-office session:
**First - Evaluation **
- Your dentist examines current tooth shade
- Discuss goals for whitening treatment
- Learn how shades are measured
**Then - Prep **
- Gums protected with gel or rubber shield
- Plaque removed with pumice polish
- Teeth isolated from saliva
**Next - Whitening Gel **
- High concentration hydrogen peroxide gel applied
- Gel specifically formulated to boost activation
- Up to 43% strength!
Light It Up - Activation
- Special light shone to catalyze gel
- LED, laser, plasma arc lights used
- Blue light optimally activates molecules
**Finally - Touch Up & Review **
- Additional coats of gel or longer light exposure if needed
- Rinse when done whitening
- Check shade to confirm results!
Total Time: 30-90 minutes
See, the actual appointment time goes by surprisingly fast! And don't worry about sensitivity - numbing gels are often used in combination too.
Shine Bright with Light Activation
So, what's the deal with special lights, lasers and all that used during in-office whitening? Is it just expensive bells and whistles or do lights actually boost whitening?
Well it turns out different wavelengths of light shine energy that causes our good friend hydrogen peroxide to release more teeth-brightening oxygen faster from whitening gel. More oxygen equals more stain molecules broken down for whiter teeth!
Here's a breakdown of the light activation types:
- Blue 400-520nm wavelength
- Induces maximum hydrogen peroxide activation
- Most commonly used, researched lighting
- Infrared 810-980nm lasers
- Directed focused light beam
- Can locally heat pulp tissue
Plasma Arc Light
- Blue light + heat combo
- Intense light & temp dials up activation
- Higher sensitivity risk
LED lights tend to be the safest, provide the most even exposure, and heat teeth the least during whitening. But lasers and plasma can sometimes catalyze gel even faster.
Your dentist will evaluate teeth and determine which makes the most sense to ramp up Removing intrinsic stains that have been there a while means they have penetrated far beneath the enamel surface and into the inner tooth layers. intrinsic stains that have been there a while means they have penetrated far beneath the enamel surface and into the inner tooth layers.
Realistic Whitening Expectations
Alright, before I have you sold that in-office treatments give you an ultra bright smile the minute you recline in the chair, let's chat real quick about realistic expectations.
Everybody's pearly whites respond differently to peroxide gels depending on:
- Your original untreated tooth shade
- Thickness of enamel layer protecting teeth
- Extent teeth are intrinsically vs. extrinsically stained
That's why results can vary quite a bit person to person when it comes to number of shades lighter achieved from a treatment.
|Average results for most
|Unlikely but awesome if happens
The gritty truth is in-office whitening doesn't work magic on every type of discoloration either if stains have penetrated the tooth over many years. Grayish, purple, or super dark brown intrinsic stains are toughest to lighten.
Talk to your dentist about unique tooth considerations and what brightening success could look like for your smile before jumping in. Reasonable expectations means realistic results!
Custom Take-Home Whitening Trays - Get That Dazzling Smile Over Time
Alright friends, we've covered the basics of grabbing those drugstore whitening strips to the intensive in-office light zapping options. But here's one more legit teeth brightening method to consider before you decide: Custom take-home whitening trays prescribed by your dentist!
These aren't the boil-and-bite trays you get with some products that never quite fit right. Nope - true custom-fit trays are molded precisely to match your teeth. Keep reading and I'll tell you everything you need to know about wearing these babys while you sleep your way to a luminous smile...
Getting Fitted For Bespoke Whitening
So first thing's first - how the heck do you get trays specially fabricated just for your teeth? Here's the quick rundown:
Your dentist takes upper and lower dental impressions
This quick appointment starts by your dentist mixing up goopy alginate dental impression material. Next you'll bite down as they work the molding putty around your teeth. It sets in a few minutes capturing every nook and cranny.
Once solid, they remove the tray of putty now recreating your teeth in 3D! This impression then gets shipped off to a dental lab.
Skilled technicians carefully craft bleach trays
Behind the scenes, a dental lab tech pours up a stone model of your new pearly mold. They use the replica of your teeth to thermoform custom whitening trays out of thin plastic sheets. Voila! A perfect match to your smile.
You snap in bleaching gel daily for brighter teeth
At your next appointment, your dentist ensures excellent tray fit and sends you home with teeth whitening gel. Over the next couple weeks, you'll insert bleaching gel into the trays and pop them on for a few hours daily!
See - with at-home trays there's a little more effort than just zapping once in-office. But custom fit gives awesome results!
Breaking Down the Trays & Gel
Now you know how you get fitted trays, but what goes inside and how exactly do they brighten teeth? Let's see what these babies look like:
- Made of thin, flexible plastic
- Almost invisible on teeth
- No awkward bulk
- Allows you to talk normally
- Carbamide peroxide bleach
- 15-22% concentration
- Syringe for squeezing into trays
- Low risk for sensitivity
You'll snap in the bleach gel, pop on trays, then go about your normal routine for a few hours before removing and letting teeth soak up oxygen overnight! Reapply daily.
The Brightening Breakdown Over Weeks
Custom trays make the process easy and hands-free once in, but lightening magic takes consistent wear time over 1-4 weeks before smiling wide. Here's a typical timeline:
|Start trays 1-2 hours daily
|Upto 4 hours wear time
|Notice a couple shade boost
|Increased brightness visible
|Multi-shade lightening success!
Be diligent about regular wear, don't smoke, and avoid stain-causing foods for best glow up. It takes some dedication, but that slow brightening means less sensitivity too!
Trays For Even Super Sensitive Teeth
Speaking of sensitivity, another benefit of choose custom trays is dentists can prescribe special hypoallergenic whitening gel for easily irritated pearly whites!
Rather than intense hydrogen peroxide, these contain slightly lower concentration carbamide peroxide less likely to cause zings. Slow and steady brightness for the win!
Alternate Whitening Methods Beyond Trays and Gels
Alright we've covered the common at-home and in-office ways to brighten your smile so far. But believe it or not there's actually a bunch more interesting options out there for getting those pearly whites even whiter!
Maybe trays and gels just aren't your thing. Or hey, you want to switch up your whitening routine to speed up fading results. I've rounded up some of the more out-of-the-box ways you can bansih stains for good. Let's check 'em out...
I know, I know...seems obvious right? But hear me out on this one. Over-the-counter whitening toothpastes have those fancy claims about removing years of stains, I've tried them too. Spoiler: total BS.
BUT - prescription strength whitening toothpastes prescribed by dentists pack some serious stain-lifting silica and peroxide power for real!
How It Works
- Special abrasives lift surface stains
- May contain peroxide to deep clean
- Brush vigorously 2min 2x daily
These bad boys won't give you the same dramatic whitening as gels and lights. But used consistently over time, your dentist can customize a paste to maintain proceedings between treatments.
Whitening Mouth Rinses
If remembering to smear gels into trays every evening sounds like too much of a chore, give whitening mouthwashes a swirl! Swish around the oxygen-bubble formula for 60sec twice a day to start lifting stains from your enamel.
How It Works
- Oxygen molecules penetrate enamel
- Also kills bad breath bacteria
- Contains hydrogen peroxide usually
- Swish for 1 minute 2x daily
Again, mouth rinses alone won't radically whiten beyond a shade or two max. But mix it with occasional whitening gels or toothpaste and it's a nice maintenance booster!
Yeah, yeah, I talked a bit about the basic Crest and Colgate strips before. Not super powerful for anything beyond surface stains. But I'm talking the hardcore professional prescription whitening strips packed with high-grade peroxides in this section!
These bad boys adhere right to teeth for more targeted brightening power. And certain brands like PowerSwabs uniquely combine peroxide action WITH a special stain-absorbing mineral called hydrated silica for extra effectiveness!
How It Works
- Strong hydrogen peroxide bleach
- Special mineral lifts stains too
- Mold strips to teeth
- Wear for 30-60 minutes
Whitening strips 2.0 kick it up a notch for stubborn staining issues without intensive gels and lights. Press it on and watch it whiten!
In-Office Laser Whitening
Last but not least - let's talk special in-office light treatments! Teeth whitening lasers beams ultra fast stained-fighting energy for immediate results. But it's definitely not for the sensitive!
Lasers amp things up using a concentrated infrared light beam applied by your dentist. The extreme intensity blasts light activation accelerating peroxide penetration. We're talking going up to 8 SHADES lighter in a single visit!
How It Works
- Infrared light for max activation
- Penetrates enamel DEEPLY
- Removes really stubborn stains
- Higher sensitivity risk
- Big time lightening in one sesh!
FAQs - Your Top Teeth Whitening Questions, Answered!
Alright smile seekers! By this point learning allll about professional teeth whitening options from strips to lasers, you likely have a ton of questions bouncing around that head of yours. Well wonder no more!
I've tapped my inner dental expert to answer the biggest FAQs I get about getting those pearly whites shimmering...
How Long Do Whitening Treatments Last?
This is the million dollar question isn't it? Just how LONG can you expect your brilliant new white smile to last after putting in the time, money and effort to get those pesky stains removed?
The truthful answer: it depends!
Results can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few YEARS depending on:
- Your lifestyle habits (smoking/drinking dark liquids)
- How thick your enamel layers are
- Diligence with at-home care & touch ups
With the right maintenance strategy (see below!), aim for teeth to stay visibly brighter for 6-12 months post-whitening.
What’s the Best Way To Maintain Whitening Treatments?
Speaking of keeping your stellar smile shining long after treatments fade, just how do you extend that gleaming grin? I'm glad you asked!
🥛 Drink through a straw
🍷 Avoid red wine or dark liquids
🍫 Cut back staining snacks
🪥 Use whitening/desensitizing toothpaste
⏰ Brush gently 2min 2x daily
💧 Stay hydrated
👍🏻 See your dentist every 6 months
Stick to those smile-saving steps above and schedule a maintenance whitening round once a year. You've got this!
Does Insurance Cover Teeth Whitening?
Brace yourselves people - I've got some not-so-sparkly news on this one. When it comes to footing the bill, professional teeth whitening is almost never covered by dental insurance.
Why not you ask? Whitening is usually classified as a "cosmetic treatment" rather than medically necessary. And cosmetic enhancement procedures almost never get the green light.
However, some dental savings plans DO include teeth whitening discounts and allowances. And hey - there's always CareCredit financing if you qualify. Don't let the lack of insurance coverage stop you from the smile you deserve!
What Whitening Methods Work With Crowns or Veneers?
Alright, this is a super common question for people who have existing dental work done like crowns, veneers, implants, bridges or fillings
Will whitening treatments still work if you have these restorations?
Short answer - yes and no.
Whitening gels CAN safely be used to lighten natural teeth even with added dental work. But the treatments only change your original tooth color - NOT the shade of artificial materials.
That porcelain crown stays porcelain white no matter how much you laser beam the gunk off surrounding teeth. Your dentist CAN swap out crown color for a uniform bright smile. But whitening only impacts living tooth enamel, not dental replacements.
How White Can My Teeth Actually Get?
"Can I really achieve ultra white celebrity veneers with professional whitening?"
Another super common Q! People have this vision of their smile rivaling Ross from Friends post-treatment. But fun fact: most over the top Hollywood grins aren't ALL natural whitened teeth!
Here's the reali-tea sis:
- Whitening treatments CAN get teeth shades lighter safely
- But dentin layer and enamel thickness limit brightening
- Best goal= a few shades lighter for uniformity
I'd set sights on noticeable uniform 2-4 shade boost for a gorgeous grin. And remember - whitening works best if you start with no restorations and yellow-ish hued teeth. Deep brown or grey tones are super stubborn! Patience young padawan
About Our Dental Practice: Hallandale's Best Dentistry for Tooth Whitening in Hallandale
Svetlana Dental and Esthetic Center in Miami specializes in affordable effective cosmetic dentistry and smile makeovers. They use the latest techniques and technology to transform smiles. We are the best cosmetic dentistry in Hallandale that will give you the smile you deserve.
- Cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening, veneers, dental implants and crowns to improve appearance.
- Full mouth reconstruction to completely rehabilitate and reshape teeth entire mouth
- Treatment planning and smile makeovers to align and reshape teeth for an enhanced smile
- General and specialist dental care using cutting-edge equipment
Dr. Anokhina Svetlana, helps patients achieve natural looking, healthy smiles affordably in Miami. For exceptional dental service, and five-star patient experiences in Miami Hallandale, FL, choose our dental office. Call today to schedule your consultation!