Teeth Whitening Options

Most everyone wants white teeth!  It is the fastest and least expensive form of cosmetic dentistry.  Whitening your teeth brightens your smile, making it the first thing people notice about you.

There are several different ways to whiten your teeth.

When Should You Whiten Your Teeth?

The short answer is: whenever you want!

A longer, more detailed answer is that there are several factors people use to determine when their teeth need whitening.  If you answer yes to any of these questions, you might want to whiten your teeth.

  1. Do you hide your smile or laughter behind your hand because you think your teeth are yellow?
  2. Do you have dental work that no longer blends in with the other teeth?
  3. Are your teeth yellower than the whites of your eyes?

Please keep in mind that it is unwise to compare your teeth to photos you see online or in magazines.  Professional photographs are always altered to show perfectly white teeth.  When evaluating your teeth, be realistic.  Only compare with natural teeth (not dental crowns or porcelain veneers!) you have seen in person.

Over-the-Counter vs. Professional Products

There are some important differences in the whitening products you can buy over-the-counter compared to the products sold only by your dentist.

Over-the-Counter Whitening Products

OTC whitening products can be divided into two categories:

  1. Whitening Toothpastes or Powders – These products whiten the teeth by simply polishing away surface stains. The toothpastes contain abrasive or gritty ingredients that act like sandpaper to your teeth.  This is a good option for people who drink lots of coffee, tea, or red wine.  They are NOT safe to use on sensitive teeth or teeth with exposed roots.
  2. Whitening Strips or Gels – The chemical ingredient in over-the-counter whitening strips or gels is the same ingredient in professional products: carbamide peroxide. Both carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide act to penetrate enamel and oxidize the molecules that cause discoloration in teeth.  The concentration of peroxide chemicals in OTC whitening products is lower than the concentration in professional products.  OTC products also do not contain any chemicals for protecting the teeth against sensitivity.  We will discuss why this matters in the next section.

Advantages of Professional Whitening Products

As stated above, OTC products have lower concentrations of the active ingredient.  With the higher concentrations of carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide available in professional whitening products, whitening is faster and more effective!

Another advantage of professional teeth whitening is the use of a custom fit whitening tray.  Over-the-counter whiteners use a generic fit mouthguard type tray or messy, slippery strips.  These do not hold the whitening ingredient firmly against the teeth.  With a custom tray, the material stays in close contact with the teeth and only where the gel is designed to go.  This prevents using too much gel and helps you conserve the gel for longer use.  It also prevents the gel from reaching sensitive tooth roots and gum tissue.

Professional Teeth Whitening at Timberlake Dental

At Timberlake Dental, we believe in providing only the best dental care.  There are many different types of teeth whitening available, and there is no question that take-home whitening in custom-made whitening trays is the best.

We offer custom whitening trays and a kit of professional strength whitening gel as a gift to our patients at no charge once any necessary dental work has been completed!

Take-Home Whitening

This is the gold standard in teeth whitening.  Take-home teeth whitening is the most predictable and affordable way to professionally whiten your teeth.

Flexible custom whitening trays are made on an exact replica of your upper and lower teeth.  These trays fit the teeth intimately and hold the whitening gel exactly where it needs to go for the best result.  The trays last for many years and rarely need replacement.

The trays act as a carrier for the whitening gel.  We provide you with a kit of whitening gel when you receive your custom trays.  We will instruct you on how to properly load gel into the trays to maximize the lifespan of your gel supply.

Wear the whitening gel in your trays for the prescribed amount of time, per Dr. Chowning’s instructions.  If your teeth do feel sensitive, shorten the time you wear the gel and whiten every other day.

It typically takes 10-14 days of whitening daily to reach the maximum whitening effect of Opalescence® gel.  When wearing the gel for shorter and every other day, allow a little more time.

Once you have achieved your whitening goals, you only need to perform maintenance whitening as needed.  On average, maintenance is performed once every 6 months.  Patients with habits that stain the teeth, like smoking or heavy coffee drinking, will whiten more frequently.

Interested in Professional Teeth Whitening?

Call 940-382-1750 today to schedule a teeth whitening consultation with Dr. Chowning!