If you want to achieve a brighter, whiter smile, you have many options. It’s important to choose the method that’s best for you, however, the choices can be overwhelming. We recommend starting any teeth-whitening regimen by scheduling an appointment with your dentist. Dr. Hallstead understands the differences between in-office, professional whitening and at-home whitening, and can help answer any questions or concerns you may have.
Whitening Toothpaste & Mouthwash
The least expensive options for brighter teeth are whitening toothpastes and mouthwashes. Designed to have “whitening” capabilities, toothpastes and mouthwashes work to remove surface stains using mild abrasives, but they do not lighten the actual color shade of the tooth. Expect that a whitening toothpaste or mouthwash will only lead to mild whitening.
Paint-On Teeth Whiteners
Another type of over-the-counter, readily accessible whitening product is commonly referred to as a “paint-on” teeth whitener, which consists of a gel that’s applied to the tooth using a small brush. When the gel hardens, it creates a film that coats the teeth and eventually dissolves. Paint-on teeth whiteners are generally less expensive than whitening strips or professional options, but they are also less effective. As with any teeth-whitening regimen, it is wise to consult with a dental professional before use.
Teeth-whitening strips are thin, flexible plastic (polyethylene) strips with a thin film of hydrogen peroxide on one side. They usually come in two sets: one for the upper teeth and another for the lower. To use them, they’re often placed across the teeth and gently pressed into place to ensure contact with all the teeth. Teeth-whitening strips are typically worn for 30 minutes a day, twice a day, but the duration of treatment will vary.
Tray bleaching is a type of professional whitening that uses whitening gel and custom-made trays that fit perfectly over your teeth. Because of this, you can only get them from your dentist. The process works when the peroxide gel breaks down and releases hydroxyl radicals that help whiten stained teeth. Unlike strips, this process whitens all your natural teeth and may even contain ingredients intended to provide maximum comfort. At-home professional tray whitening generally takes 10 to 14 days, although you may notice results in as little as three to five days.