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How can I professionally whiten my teeth?

Cosmetic Dentistry: Teeth Whitening

Ronald Rosenblatt, DDS (General and Cosmetic Dentistry) gives expert video advice on: What is the most effective type of professional whitening treatment?; How long do professional whitening treatments last?; How effective are whitening toothpastes? and more...

What over-the-counter products can I use to whiten my teeth?

There are various kinds of materials you can use over-the-counter to whiten your teeth. Among them are the whitening strips, trays that you make yourself through softening them in warm water and then placing bleach in the trays to whiten your teeth, and brush-on whitening materials that will also whiten your teeth. As a rule, the things that you get over-the-counter to whiten your teeth are not as strong as what you can get from the dental office. And most times, the trays will not fit as securely on your teeth as those made by the dental office, and so more of the material will get to your gums and cause sensitivity than if you had your teeth whitened professionally.

How effective are professional whitening treatments?

Normally, professional whitening systems will whiten your teeth six to eight shades. The dentist will show you on a chart where you're going to begin and where you will end after the whitening treatment. Nothing will get your teeth whiter than this method. However, you may need to undergo professional whitening treatments for a longer period of time and do it until your teeth are the shade you want. It also depends on the structure of your teeth as some teeth are more resistant to the whitening than other teeth. There is only trial and error to find out for sure if you're one of those people.

What is the most effective type of professional whitening treatment?

You have to ask yourself, "what is it that I want?" when thinking of the best professional whitening treatment for you. If you are the type of person who cannot in any way shape or form, set aside one to two to four hours every day for two to three weeks then this is not going to be the professional whitening treatment for you. Therefore you're going to have to have the one to two hour whitening done in the office. However, the whitening that's done in the office, in the one and a half to two hours, will not get your teeth any whiter than the trays.

How long do professional whitening treatments last?

When you have your teeth whitened, the results are going to last anywhere between three and five years, depending upon what you eat and your lifestyle. Now what's going to happen is, you'll have your teeth whitened, and that's as white as they're going to be, once you have that shade. And they're going to begin to taper off slowly over that three to five years. However, you can have them touched up any way--any place--along the line. So if your teeth started at nice and white, and they start to get a little bit yellower, you don't have to wait the three to five years before you whiten them again and have them back to that wonderful color you look forward to.

How do "professional" and "over-the-counter" teeth whitening differ?

The major difference between "over-the-counter" and "professional" whitening treatments, is that when you do it "over-the-counter" you're on your own. When you have the whitening treatment done professionally, not only are the trays made to fit you better, but someone is going to watch over you to make sure that you don't have major problems with the gum because the bleach was too strong and burnt the gum, or the gums don't have major sensitivity. So if you do decide to do it "over-the-counter", be aware that many things can happen during your whitening treatment and you have to be careful about that.

Are teeth whitening treatments safe?

All of the tooth whitening materials say you should not use them when you're either pregnant or lactating, so no matter what type of method you use, be sure not to use it during that time. Other than that, the materials that we use for whitening can be caustic and can burn the gum, so we have to be careful about that. The best way you can do that is to make sure that the trays, if you're using trays, fit your teeth very intimately, so they don't allow excess to flow beyond the teeth and into the gums when performing these whitening treatments.

How effective are whitening toothpastes?

It would be wonderful if your whitening toothpaste could do the same job that the dentist does when he whitens your teeth in his office, but it's not going to happen. The whitening toothpaste may take some of the stain off your teeth, but it's not going to change the shade of your teeth any where near what the bleaching, either over the counter or done in the dental office, can do.

How effective are over-the-counter whitening gels?

Over the counter whitening gels are not as effective as the gels you can get in the dental office because they're not going to be as strong. Because they're not as strong, they're not going to be as effective. If you did use them over a long, long period of time, they may get them just as white as you could in the dental office, but it's going to be a long time, and if time is a problem for you, then that's not the best way to go.

How effective are over-the-counter whitening strips?

The whitening strips will whiten your teeth also but there is some difficulty in having the whitening strip adhere to all of the nooks and crannies of your teeth and in the surfaces that the strips do touch do a nice job and in those surfaces where the strips cant get thru is not gonna be as white so u can see an uneven whitening with the strips. Even though the manufacturer tell you that's not going to happen.

How often should I use over-the-counter whitening products?

Ideally, when you use over-the-counter whitening products, you want to use them until you've attained the whiteness you're looking for. So you want to use over the counter whitening products for however long it's going to take, and this will vary with how nicely you've made the trays, how strong the material is, and how white you want your teeth to be, and how white your teeth were when you began using the over-the-counter whitening product. So you will use the over the counter whitening product for a longer time if your teeth are dark and you want them to get lighter, or less time if your teeth are already white and you want them to be just a little bit lighter.

What are the side effects of over-the-counter whitening products?

The major side effect of over the counter whitening products, is allowing the material to get into the gum and cause some irritation in the gum. Also, if you have recession, this material can get into the root of the tooth and cause severe sensitivity, sometimes to the point of needing a major pain pill to take care of it.