Many people are satisfied with the sparkle they get from brushing twice daily with a fluoride-containing toothpaste, cleaning between their teeth once a day with floss and the regular cleanings at your dentist’s office. If you decide you would like to go beyond this to make your smile look brighter, you should investigate all of your options.
You can choose the whitening process you are more comfortable with:
- In-office whitening
- At-home whitening
What should you ask your dentist?
You may want to start by speaking an Ottawa family dentist to find out which whitening procedure would be effective for you. Whiteners may not correct all types of discoloration. For example, yellow-ish hued teeth will probably bleach well, brownish-colored teeth may bleach less well, and grayish-hued teeth may not bleach well at all. Likewise, bleaching may not enhance your smile if you have had bonding or tooth-colored fillings placed in your front teeth. The whitener will not affect the color of these materials, and they will stand out in your newly whitened smile. In these cases, you may want to investigate other options, like porcelain veneers or dental bonding.
If you are a candidate for whitening, your Ottawa family dentist may suggest a procedure that can be done in his or her office. This procedure is called in-office whitening and will require two visits. The first visit is a short 30-minute appointment where impressions of your teeth will be taken and the whitening process is further explained. The second visit, which is scheduled a few days later, lasts about one hour. At this visit the dental professional will apply a protective gel to your gums to protect the oral soft tissues. A bleaching agent is then applied to the teeth, and the curing light is used to enhance the action of the agent. Included in this treatment are custom-fitted whitening trays which will be delivered to you at the end of this visit. These easy-to-use trays allow you to whiten your teeth at home in the future, should you desire to brighten your smile from time to time.
At-home procedures and products
There are several types of products available for use at home, which can either be dispensed by your Ottawa family dentist or purchased over-the-counter.
Bleaching solutions. These products contain peroxide(s), which actually bleach the tooth enamel. These products typically rely on percent carbamide peroxide as the bleaching agent, carbamide peroxide comes in several different concentrations (10%, 16%, 22%).
Peroxide-containing whiteners typically come in a gel and are placed in a whitening tray. Usage regimens vary. Some products are used for about twice a day for 2 weeks, and others are intended for overnight use for 1-2 weeks. If you obtain the bleaching solution from your dentist, he or she will make a custom-fitted tray for you that will fit your teeth precisely. Occasionally, teeth can become sensitive during the period when you are using the bleaching solution. In many cases, this sensitivity is temporary and should lessen once the treatment is finished. Some people also experience soft tissue irritation—either from a tray that doesn’t fit properly or from solution that may come in contact with the tissues. Once again, this irritation is only temporary. At Blackburn Shoppes Dental Centre, we often recommend a using a toothpaste for sensitive teeth prior to starting the whitening and during the whitening process.