If your teeth aren't as white as they used to be, teeth whitening is a great way to restore their color to their former glory. But if you've never whitened your teeth before, you may wonder if the process is safe and effective. When done properly, and especially by a trained dentist, the whitening process is both safe and effective.
Here are the most common types of teeth whitening and a short summary of how they work.
In-Office Whitening Done by a Trained Dentist
The safest and most effective way to whiten your teeth is to opt for in-office whitening. A dentist or whitening professional carries out in-office teeth whitening. This whitening procedure is safe because the dentist will protect your gums with hardening resin to prevent damage to your gums from the bleach. And each session is limited to 15 to 30 minutes.
During this type of whitening, a dentist will create a custom whitening tray designed to fit your teeth. They then add whitening gel, which contains hydrogen or carbamide peroxide, and place the tray onto your teeth. Dentists ensure that they reach every part of your teeth by using a cheek retractor to expose every part of your teeth.
The bleaching gel breaks up the staining molecules in and on the surface of tooth enamel. Sometimes, dentists use LED light along with bleach to improve the effectiveness of the whitening.
OTC Whitening Trays at Home
You can whiten your own teeth at home too with over-the-counter (OTC) whitening trays. Just like the trays dentists use for in-office whitening, OTC trays fit over your teeth. Once on your teeth, you then fill them with the whitening solution and leave them for the recommended time.
The downside to whitening trays is that the bleaching solution isn't as strong as that used by dentists. And the trays are not designed specifically for your mouth, which means that they may not fit comfortably. If these trays are a poor fit for your mouth, you might not be able to whiten your teeth as safely or effectively as you wish.
Whitening Strips Directly on the Teeth
Whitening strips are a simple way to whiten your teeth, without the need for gel or trays. You can simply place one whitening strip onto each row of your teeth, usually during the day or just before your go to bed. Whitening strips adhere to your teeth and they have a hydrogen or carbamide peroxide coating that whitens your teeth while you wear the strips.
One of the biggest downsides to whitening strips is that they often don't cover all of the tooth surfaces after placement. This could result in uneven whitening.
Overall, whitening is an effective way to remove stains from teeth. But the safest and most effective type of whitening is in-office whitening. If you are interested in teeth whitening, a dentist can answer all your questions.