Teeth Whitening – Polishing Your Smile
Teeth Whitening – Polishing Your Smile
Everything’s in order — the veil, the gown, the tux. As you think of the excitement to come, you smile…
As engagement rings make themselves at home on the hands of brides across the country, couples are preparing their wedding day smiles by heading into the dentist chair, or down the oral care aisle. We’re not talking major overhauls — just a little help to get those pearly yellows shining as brightly as the future that lies ahead.
Once done discreetly by superstars, teeth whitening has come out of orbit and down to earth, both in procedure and in price. In fact, both brides and grooms are routinely having their teeth whitened before the big day.
There are several different teeth whitening methods on the market to date: laser, power or chair-side, professional at-home, over-the-counter, and toothpaste. Laser and power/chair-side whitenings are performed in a dentist’s office, while at-home teeth whitening products are supplied by a dentist, but used at home. Over-the-counter and toothpaste products can be purchased at specialty stores, online, and at supermarkets.
With most in-office techniques, custom-made impressions of the patient’s teeth are created. A “bite” mold is taken, set into plaster, and then translated into a plastic tray that fits precisely over the patient’s teeth. To whiten, a peroxide solution is spread into the dental tray, and the trays are worn anywhere from a few hours a day to overnight.
Most over-the-counter teeth whitening systems include what’s called a “boil-and-bite” dental tray. The supplied mouthpiece is softened in boiling water, and the consumer makes his/her own custom tray by biting into it when it is still soft.
The Doctor Is In
There are three distinct teeth whitening services offered by dental professionals. We spoke to Dr. Graziano Giglio, a diplomate of the American Board of Prosthodontics and clinical associate professor at New York University College of Dentistry for details about these in-office methods.
Laser teeth Whitening is the newest service on the market, a technique Dr. Giglio says looks promising. The procedure takes place in a dental office, under the supervision of a dental professional. After the patient’s soft tissue is protected, a peroxide solution is applied to the teeth. A laser then initiates a reaction with the peroxide. Patients are able to see results extremely quickly; some teeth whitening centers have reported their patients’ teeth are up to nine shades lighter after just one visit, though other services require the patient to wear a custom made dental tray two nights a week. Dr. Giglio warns that, although the results can be stunning and fast, the procedure itself can be extremely pricey. Another concern Dr. Giglio raises is that laser whitening has not yet been approved by the ADA, the American Dental Association.
Power or Chair-Side Whitening is essentially in-office tooth whitening, an accelerated version of at-home teeth whitening. Though less expensive than laser whitening, power or chair-side whitening can be costly. Results are often dramatic, and immediate. According to Dr. Giglio, the patient must come into the office for two whitening sessions, each lasting about one half-hour. These sessions can be scheduled in the course of two or three days, or they can be staggered. A high concentration of peroxide solution, usually around 35%, is injected in the custom dental tray. Because the concentration of peroxide is higher, some patients experience minor sensitivity. And as with laser teeth whitening, in addition to the in-office session, the patient is usually required to wear a dental tray at home. But, because patients can see quick results, Dr. Giglio feels that the power whitening method “helps patients get motivated and inspired,” to follow up with their at-home regimen.
At-Home whitening, purchased from the Dentist, is the slowest process of the three dental professional options, but it is also the least expensive, and the method Dr. Giglio recommends most. Depending on the system, custom trays coated with a 12% – 16% peroxide solution are worn two hours in the morning, two hours a night, or all night long. Many systems require the patient come into the dental office each week, where a dental professional checks on his/her progress, and makes sure the peroxide solution is not irritating his/her gums. Depending on the regimen, it usually takes between 2-6 at-home sessions to achieve desired results.
In Supermarkets Everywhere
These teeth whitening methods can be purchased online, in the supermarket, or at health and beauty stores.
Teeth Whitening strips are a comparatively inexpensive version of at-home whitening. The strips contain the same enamel-safe ingredient that dentists use. When worn, the strip holds whitening gel against the tooth long enough to get at stains beneath the surface of your teeth. You apply them for 30 minutes twice per day. This gives you noticeably whiter teeth in just 14 days and the results last at least 6 months. This method easily fits into your daily routine as you do not need to stay at home to use them. Whitening strips are also available at the dentist in professional strength.
Also relatively inexpensive, boil-and-bite trays are used in conjunction with a peroxide solution. But, because the whitening is not done under medical supervision, the peroxide solution must be fairly weak. As a result, whitening is often achieved only after a long period (sometimes 6 months). When you consider that multiple whitening kits must be purchased, or at least, whitening solution must be refilled, the initial low cost of the kit can be deceptive.
Teeth Whitening Toothpaste contains an active ingredient that you literally brush onto your teeth. While some dentists support the use of tooth-whitening toothpaste products as a means to maintain a white shade, many dentists warn patients not to expect dramatic results. The reason: even if you brush your teeth two or three times a day with these products, the teeth whitening solution is not present on your teeth long enough to dramatically lighten them.
If you don’t want to take the trouble to whiten your teeth, Dr. Giglio recommends that you have your dentist clean and polish your teeth before the wedding. A healthy cleaning will get rid of common stains caused by coffee, tea, and other substances, and a polish will give your smile a gleam.
Don’t have your teeth cleaned the day before the wedding. While your whites may never be pearlier — your gums may still be red, tender, and inflamed. For this reason, Dr. Giglio recommends you schedule your cleaning 4 or 5 days before the wedding.
According to Dr. Giglio, yellow teeth whiten well; gray teeth do not. Before you decide to spend the time, energy, and money on teeth whitening, ask your dentist what kind of results you should expect.
“Fillings don’t bleach,” says Dr. Giglio. So, even if you have a porcelain filling in your tooth, it will stay the same color regardless of how many times it is whitened.
A sun-kissed glow makes teeth look whiter and brighter, and skin savvy brides know how to accomplish the same effect without the suns damaging rays.
Hint: a little bronzer goes a long way.