A few options exist when deciding which teeth whitening options to choose. The choice is usually considered on three factors: cost, convenience, and results. The first consideration is a big one. Everyone is always looking for the least expensive way to get the best results. Unfortunately, cost and convenience are inversely proportional to each other. This means that the higher the cost the more convenient the procedure and the better the results. Inversely, the lower the cost the less convenient the procedure and usually the less desirable the results are.
Time is also a large factor. In today's busy lifestyle, people don't want to spend a lot of time whitening to get the results they are looking for. Unfortunately, the whitening works best when the whitening gel is in contact with the teeth longer. The reason for this is that the tooth enamel is made of channels where the whitening gel penetrates through. The longer the gel is in contact with the tooth, the deeper the gel will penetrate and the whiter the teeth will get. Of course there are ways around this. By using a higher concentration of gel, penetration is faster through those enamel channels. However, the higher the concentration is, the greater the sensitivity.
All whitening products will cause some degree of sensitivity. Therefore, if your teeth tend to be sensitive to begin with, try lower concentrations of whitening gel or use for less time. The different options available for teeth whitening vary in concentration and effectiveness. The first option is the in-office professional treatment. During this treatment, the dentist uses very high concentrations of whitening gel and a light. The combination of these two things helps accelerate the process of whitening so that results can be obtained faster. This treatment alone is effective when patients tooth discoloration is superficial. During this one hour treatment, the gel penetrates through the enamel channels but not very deeply.
The second whitening option is the custom home trays with professional whitening gel. This treatment uses lower concentrations of gel. The custom-made trays are important to contain the gel over the teeth. The use of generic trays causes the gel to spill onto the gums and often causes irritation and pain. The treatment is generally done for one to two weeks. The trays are also great to have in order to maintain the teeth white. It is recommended to use the home whitening gel with the custom trays at least once every three to six months to maintain the whitening effect.
The last option is the least expensive of the three. This option is the over-the-counter whiteners like “Crest White Strips.” The concentration of whitening gel in these strips is much lower than what is available through your dentist. Therefore the results take longer and don’t last as long. The other disadvantage is that these strips only cover the front 6 teeth and not the entire smile. There are also whitening pens, whitening toothpastes and mouth rinses that all claim to whiten your teeth. These all work very superficially to remove surface stain that builds up from the foods and drinks we consume. They do not however, penetrate deep enough into the tooth surface to give you lasting results.
For best results, it is recommended to do the in-office whitening for 1-hour followed by use of custom made trays for three to five days. The in-office treatment will give the maximum benefit of high concentrations of gel that will penetrate the enamel and custom trays that can be used to additional penetrate further into the enamel giving a whiter and more permanent result. Additionally, the custom trays can be used to maintain your teeth white in the years to follow.