Who doesn’t want whiter teeth? It’s a no brainer. There is a big market for tooth whitening products so there are a variety of different options from which to choose. Listed are the most common options:
- Whitening Toothpaste – Whitening toothpaste is okay if you don’t have sensitive teeth. They generally work by having a heavier abrasive in the toothpaste so it cleans the stains off of the outside of the tooth. Over time the heavier abrasive can also wear your enamel and the exposed root surfaces of your teeth. This isn’t a bad option but it isn’t Dr. Frost’s favorite option for long term use. Dr. Frost doesn’t personally use whitening toothpaste.
- Office Whitening – This includes a fancy machine that shines a blue light on your teeth and you leave the office with whiter teeth. There are a lot of different theories on this. Dr. Frost didn’t buy into this system for a couple of reasons. First, it hasn’t been shown that the immediate results are sustained. Many dentists believe the teeth look whiter because they have been dehydrated by the light. Once the tooth is rehydrated which can take a month or two, the color may revert to its original color if you don’t continue to whiten. Second, this method causes pretty significant sensitivity (from dehydration?) and the night after you have this treatment done, your teeth are usually very uncomfortable and unable to eat or drink.
- Take Home Trays – Impressions are taken and a custom tray is made to keep the whitening material away from your gums. The directions are different for each product but a peroxide is put on your teeth for a set amount of time. This chemically lightens your teeth and won’t negatively affect your teeth long term. You use it frequently for the first week or two until your teeth are the desired lightness. After the initial week or two, you will wear the trays once every 2 weeks or once a month to maintain your desired lightness. This is Dr. Frost’s preferred whitening method.
- OTC Whitening – Crest Whitestrips are a very effective product. The limitation is that the strips are rectangular and not custom fit so the chemicals and peroxides present in the whitening material will irritate your gums. It is not recommended that you use Crest Whitestrips for extended periods of time. Allow your gums and teeth to heal and recover.
There are many more products out there and it seems like every year or two a “miracle” product comes along. Once the hype dies down, more information comes out on the whitening product and it becomes less publicized.