If your smile is less than perfect, this can leave you feeling self-conscious. Thanks to advancements in cosmetic dental treatment procedures, you can now buy at-home teeth whitening kits at your local drug store and give yourself the white smile you want at home.
Before you attempt to whiten your teeth at home, you should see your dentist to assess your suitability for the procedure.
Why teeth change color
There are various factors that cause staining and dullness of teeth. These include:
As you grow older, your tooth enamel thins and becomes more transparent, while the inner layer, called the dentin, becomes darker.
Habits such as smoking, chewing tobacco and drinking coffee, tea, and red wine also cause your teeth to stain.
Certain geographical areas have high levels of fluorine in water, and people from such regions experience extensive teeth staining.
How at-home whitening kits work
Teeth-whitening products contain hydrogen peroxide. When activated, the peroxide will form bubbles to lift stains on the enamel. Products with higher concentrations of peroxide will achieve more dramatic whitening.
You can also leave products with a lower concentration of peroxide for a longer period for better results, though this might cause sensitivity.
How to know if teeth whitening is for you
As long as your oral health is good and you usually visit your dentist regularly, you can use at-home whitening kits. If you fall in the following groups, you should not whiten your teeth at home.
- If your teeth are painful or sensitive to temperatures.
- If you have dental crowns or veneers on your front teeth. Veneers and crowns don’t whiten and will thus end up looking darker in comparison to your other teeth.
- If your teeth have a grayish tint as opposed to yellow, you are most likely suffering from effects of some antibiotics and whitening will not get rid of the staining as it’s within the teeth.
Different types of whitening products
Whitening products are usually strips, gels and trays, toothpaste and whitening pens. Specific products have varying instructions and you should follow the instructions on your product to get the best results.
Gels & trays
When using a gel, you apply it on the tray and then bite down on it. If you buy generic trays from the drug store, they might not fit very well and this might discourage you from using your whitening kit. For the safety of your gum and mouth cavity, it’s best to use custom-made trays that will give you the best fit and prevent peroxide from leaking into your mouth.
Strips work by wrapping around your teeth and the longer they stay on, the better the results you’ll get. If you are using whitening strips, look for a brand that has a better hold on your teeth.
Paint on whiteners are good because you can use them in targeted spots. They are also the best option for people with sensitive teeth. However, they get diluted by saliva as there’s no means of holding the peroxide in place.
Whitening toothpastes are also used, though their results are not as dramatic as those achieved with strips and gels.
Care and maintenance
Most whitening products require daily use for at least 30 minutes per application and when used consistently for about one week, your teeth can turn up to 5 shades lighter.
After every whitening session, avoid brushing your teeth using toothpaste as this will cause sensitivity and irritation.