Is Home Teeth Whitening the Best Bleaching Choice for You?

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February 01 2010

Is Bleaching the Best Method of Home Teeth Whitening?

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Teeth whitening is more than a fad, it's a multi-billion-dollar industry that will see more than 10 millions Americans spend over (an estimated) billion this year. Teeth whitening is by far the most common cosmetic service provided by dentists right across America , and the sales growth in mail-order and over-the-counter products has surged on a massive scale. But are brilliant white teeth really achievable? Is teeth whitening safe? Does it hurt? What is the best method? Can you do it at home? These are all very common questions, and in general you will find the answers to be: Yes, Yes, Not normally, (arguably) Bleaching, Yes. Whiter teeth can be achieved via a number of different methods, both at your dentist (or professional teeth whitening office) and at home. In fact, many dentists actually perform the first one or two treatments, then get you all kitted-up so you can do the rest at home. but that’s for the ‘bleaching’ methods, there are other avenues you can travel down in your quest for whiter teeth that involve structural changes to your teeth, like ‘bonding’ and ‘porcelain veneers’.

Bleach-based teeth whitening products all basically have the same goal – to penetrate deep into your tooth enamel to rid it of stains. Tooth enamel is porous, so brushing and scouring products don’t work, and this is where bleach-based tooth whitening products come into play. You see the most effective methods actually use bleaching chemicals to penetrate deep into the tooth enamel. They set off an oxidising process that breaks down the staining compounds in the enamel leaving you with bright white teeth. Sounds simple, but there are many products on the market that fall short of promises. Most over-the-counter products only ever manage to whiten teeth marginally, while the more professional products can provide you with extreme changes to the whiteness of your teeth. The entry-level teeth whitening product would be a whitening toothpaste. Some people have demonstrated a slight improvement in brightness, but because a toothpaste isn’t exposed to your teeth for very long (you only brush for a few minutes), they typically are not able to penetrate deep enough to have much effect.

Whitening Strips are thin, flexible pieces of plastic that have been coated on one side with a thin film of hydrogen-peroxide bleach (normally 6-10% strength). They are pressed against the top and lower teeth and normally need to be worn for 30 mins (twice daily) for 7-14 days. They do work, but because they cannot get into all the nooks and crannies and gaps between teeth, the results can sometimes be blotchy and less desirable than anticipated. Getting more serious, we have bleach-based tooth whitening products which will involve a tray being placed in your mouth that has been injected with a ‘bleaching’ solution (hydrogen peroxide). This procedure can be done at home or by your dentist, or by a combination of dentist / at home. You can buy cheap over-the-counter 'boil and bite' trays that are virtually ready to use out of the packet. You boil the tray to get it hot and mouldable, place it in your mouth and bite into it.

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