Want a brighter smile? When it comes to tooth-whitening, you’ve got two options: in-office-based teeth bleaching, or at-home care.
Both tooth-whitening options use peroxide-based bleaching agents. At-home systems contain from 3% to 20% peroxide (carbamide or hydrogen peroxides). In-office systems contain from 15% to 43% peroxide.
Generally, the longer you keep a stronger solution on your teeth, the whiter your teeth become. However, the higher the percentage of peroxide in the whitening solution, the shorter it should be applied to the teeth. Keeping the gel on longer will dehydrate the tooth and increase tooth sensitivity.
There are pros and cons to each option, but before you try at-home tooth-bleaching kits, be sure to talk to your dentist. Not everyone will see good results. Bleaching will not whiten porcelain crowns or composite tooth-colored bondings.
In-Office Tooth Whitening
Teeth whitening done by your dentist can get teeth brighter faster. The bleaching solution is usually much stronger than at-home kits. Also, heat, light, or a combination of the two may be used to speed and intensify the whitening process.
Tooth Bleaching: Keeping Teeth White
Whether you use an at-home tooth-whitening system, or have your teeth bleached by a dentist, you can help maintain the results by brushing, flossing, and rinsing daily. Also, avoid acidic and tannin-rich foods and beverages such as:
- Black teas and coffee
- White and red wine
- Sports drinks
- Carbonated beverages (dark and light-colored sodas)
- Berries and other strongly-colored foods
- Sauces (soy, tomato, curries)
Teeth Whitening: Why You Should Talk to Your Dentist
Tooth bleaching can make teeth temporarily sensitive — or be uncomfortable for people who already have sensitive teeth. When used incorrectly, home kits can also lead to burned — even temporarily bleached — gums.
Tooth-whitening works best for people with yellow teeth and is less effective for people with brown teeth. If your teeth are gray or purple, tooth bleaching probably won’t work at all.
To be sure tooth-whitening is worth your time and money, talk to your dentist before you use an over-the-counter tooth whitening kit.