Whiten and Brighten Your Teeth

How to choose the right teeth whitening treatment for you

teeth whitening procedures and treatments

Photo by: Corbis

Would your smile benefit from a whitening treatment? New York City cosmetic dentist Dr. Jeff Golub-Evans suggests this test to assess your brightening potential: stand in front of a mirror in natural light and hold a piece of white printer paper next to your teeth. If they look yellow in comparison, the stains are probably just on the surface — teeth should turn at least a couple of shades lighter with at-home bleaching. If your teeth look grayish, the discoloration likely lies inside the teeth, and do-it-yourself bleaching won’t help much.

To help lighten or eliminate superficial staining, you’ve got options:

At-home approaches
The Good: Trays and strips are the most effective at-home choices for dramatic whitening, dentists say. These “barrier method” whiteners keep their peroxide solution against the teeth for the longest time. Daily use can brighten teeth five or more shades. Most brands of trays and strips recommend you use them for around 30 minutes a day until you get the desired shade (usually at least a week). For the most dazzling results, look for higher concentrations of peroxide combined with longer application times.

The Bad: Other kinds of at-home whiteners—whitening toothpastes or rinses—use polishing and other nonbleach agents to either scrub off or chemically remove stains that are closer to the surface. However, beware the side effects. A recent study published in Journal of Clinical Dentistry assessed a variety of whitening toothpastes, finding that many (especially those containing silica) were highly abrasive and potentially damaging to enamel; they concluded that, in general, these whitening products didn’t remove stains much better than regular toothpaste.

Dental-office approaches
In the office: Many dentists offer accelerated in-office bleaching options that lighten teeth up to 10 shades in a single visit. This option is pricey, though—the treatments start at about $400, and you may require more than one. Zoom! and BriteSmile are two of the most popular - they use light to pump up the effects of highly concentrated peroxide.

However, any dramatic whitening can fade quickly without at-home maintenance (usually a tray, whitening strips, or toothpaste). In addition, you have to watch what you eat and drink for a couple of days afterward, since tooth enamel is very susceptible to staining for the first 48 hours after treatment. The higher concentration of peroxide also creates an increased risk of temporary sensitivity.

To-Go Bag: Your dentist can make custom-bleaching trays for at-home use if you prefer to work your own magic – just be sure you know how to use them before leaving the office.

Try these recommended products:

Aquafresh White Trays

Paula’s Choice Brighten Up 2-Minute Teeth Whitener

GO SMiLE Smile Whiteneing Light

Crest 3D White Advanced Vivid Whitestrips with Advanced Vivid Technology