G et T hat 100 Watts Smil e With T h e Right Toot h Whit e ni ng P rod uct This article provides information and suggestions on how you can brighten your smile with tooth whitening kits. Teeth come in a var iety of natur al colors but bright, white teeth rep resent a clean and healthy mouth. Tooth whitening is the process of going beyond the ever y day brushing and adding tooth bleaching to daily tooth care routines. There are a var iety of tooth whitening products available from your dentist including tooth whitening gel, toothpaste and dental str ips. How Do Tooth White n e rs Work? There are a number of ways in which teeth can get stained darker. Teeth are made up of two laye rs of enamel , one inner and one outer. The out layer of enamel protects the inner layer and, when you drink, eats of smoke, foreign matter builds up on the outer layer of the tooth to form a pellicle film. This film is what makes teeth appear darker and, although brushing daily helps to break it down; tooth whitening products do the job much more effectively and with more force. Tooth whiteners work by getting into the tooth enamel and creating a chemical oxidation reaction that breaks the stains apart. Most whiteners use one of two kinds of ingredients: carbamide peroxide and hyd rogen peroxide to c reate this kind of reaction. Is Tooth White nin g Prod uc ts Ideal for Everybod y? It should be noted that tooth whitening kits are not alw ays suitable for use by ever ybody. It is not recommended for use by patients with decayed teeth, infected gums, white spots on thei r teeth, and multiple tooth colored fillings or c rowns. It is wise to sort out any dental issue before pursuing a course of tooth whitening. Tooth White nin g Prod uc ts As mentioned before , tooth whitening products come in a wide var iety ranging from home use over the counter p roducts and dentist- recommended products. Each has thei r own advantages and disadvantages. The ove r the counter tooth whitening kits include: Teeth Whi t ening Ge l Afte r some form of protection has been applied to the gums, a whitening gel containing hydrogen peroxide is applied to the tooth, breaking down and penetrating the discolored tooth enamel. Afte r this p rocess the underl ying stains will have disappeared from the tooth. This is an aggressive method and should not be used on damaged or sensitive teeth and gums. In effect this procedure can be seen as a form of tooth bleaching. Whi tening T o o t hp a s te. Whitening toothpastes remove stains from the teeth and make the tooth look whiter. Using (often harsh) abrasives, whitening toothpaste can cause damage to the tooth and gradually remove the enamel , leaving the tooth sensitive to heat and cold and looking yellow , which of course defeats the purpose of whitening. Whi tening T o o t h St r i p s Plastic str ips containing whitening gel one side, are applied to the tooth and left on for a set period of time. The tooth whitening gel contains hydrogen peroxide and its use is the same as desc r ibed above for whitening gel. These str ips often do more damage than good as there is a danger that they are left on the tooth for too long, causing damage to the enamel. One of the main advantages of home tooth whitening products is that they are available for use immediately. The re is no need to wait for an appointment with your dentist; you can begin to whiten your teeth right away. There are however a number of drawbacks to using over the counter tooth whitening kits. Fi rstly , there is no way to tell whether or not you are a suitable candidate to use the kits which means the benefits and effects may not be so great. There is also no professional on hand to make sure ever ything goes smoothly. Another disadvantage is that it is difficult to gauge the quantities and concentration of the chemicals in the product. It is possible to cause i r r itation of the gums or teeth if the chemical concentration is too strong or if the product is over used. P rod ucts Used For Toot h White ni ng T r e at m e nt Some dentists recommend certain tooth whitening products as follows : Cus t o m M outh Tr ay A fitted mouth tray is made by your dentist after taking molds of your teeth. This tray may then be used at home, together with a tooth whitening gel. Gel wil l be applied to the tray after which the tray is inse rted in the mouth, holding the gel on the teeth as instructed by your dental ; heath care p rofessional. In office use of this method is used in conjunction with a special light source that wil l accele rate and intensify the whitening process. There are clear advantages to using dentist- recommended tooth whitening procedures. With a professional on hand, teeth can be properl y assessed to have the cor rect chemical concentration, cor rect method and length of treatment and to be sure the patient is even suitable to have thei r teeth whitened. There are disadvantages, however , mainly the cost is ve r y high and it may take seve ral weeks before the tr eatment can even begin. C o s t s ? Over the C ounter ver su s D ent i s t - Re c o m m end e d The diffe rence in cost between the home use tooth whitening kits and the dentist recommended methods and products are quite substantial. Visits to the dentist for tooth whitening can end up being extremely pr icey with most treatments costing from $120 up to and over $500. In comparison, seve ral home tooth bleaching kits can be purchased for less that $10 at the low end of the spectrum and up to $35 at the higher end. But, the expertise offered by a dentist and the health of your teeth is p riceless. Wi l l t he Effect s La s t L ong ? Tooth whitening is never a permanent procedure. How long the effect will last for depends largely on the patients’ personal habits. If you smoke or d rink staining drinks such as coffee and tea, the effects wil l last for a shorter period of time. It is also important to continue to keep teeth clean and white with regular b rushing and dental hygiene. Taking all this in to consideration, the effects of tooth bleaching should last for one to two years. He a l th R i s k s i n H o m e T o o t h Whi t ening? So, can str i ving for that bril liant, white smile in your own home have a detrimental effect on your health? The answe r is yes, the re is a slim possibility of home tooth bleaching affecting your teeth. Some use rs may expe rience an increased sensitivity on thei r teeth. Hot and cold substances on the teeth may cause discomfort or shar p pain. Other patients , due to an overuse of the product may expe rience i r r itation on the gums. This however , is not long-lasting and can be treated easil y with gum gels available over the counter. H ow t o M i n i m i ze The s e R i s k s To minimize the r isk of these effects, there are things you can do. Fi rstly , it may be prudent to seek professional advice to assess whether or not your teeth are suitable for the use of home tooth whitening kits. It is also ve r y important to follow the instructions on the product label ve r y carefully. Ove ruse of the product is not healthy for your mouth and under use can result in ve r y little effect. In the end, if in doubt, it is wise to consult a dentist about professional tooth whitening or ar range a consultation regarding the specific home-use product that you have decided to use.