Though our teeth are brilliantly white when they first come in, a lifetime of food, drink, tobacco, medication side effects, and simple aging can render them dull, yellow, spotted, or brown. Fortunately, a number of whitening treatments can help them shine again, and Americans are going for them in a big way. In 2015, we spent more than $11 billion on teeth whitening products and treatments.
At the office of Dr. Raul G. Molina, Jr. in Miami, Florida, we offer in-office professional teeth whitening that will take you from dull to dazzling in no time at all. There are a lot of misconceptions about the best methods for teeth whitening, though, so we’d like to set the record straight. Here’s what you need to know.
The process of teeth whitening
All teeth whitening systems use a peroxide-based bleaching agent, either carbamide or hydrogen peroxide. At-home kits from your dentist are tray-based gels and contain 3-20% peroxide. In-office systems use either tray-based gels or lasers and contain from 15-43% peroxide.
In general, the longer you keep a higher percentage of peroxide in contact with your teeth, the whiter your teeth become. However, you don’t want to keep the gel on too long. In fact, the higher the peroxide percentage, the shorter you should let it remain in contact with the teeth. That’s because the longer the time, the more likely it is to dehydrate the teeth and increase tooth and gum sensitivity.
Your choice of teeth whitening method depends on a number of factors, including:
- Type of discoloration
- Cost involved
- Dental history, including fillings and crowns (which won’t bleach as well)
Tooth whitening works best when teeth are yellowed and is less effective if the teeth are brown. If your teeth are gray or purple, it’s likely tooth whitening won't work at all.
What about DIY kits?
You can go to any supermarket or pharmacy to buy over-the-counter (OTC) whitening products, which are available in pastes, strips, or gels. Unlike dentist-administered products, though, the OTC varieties have no or little carbamide peroxide. That means if it’s the inner part of your tooth that’s discolored and not the enamel, these products may not be as effective or may take much longer to work — sometimes months. In addition, the tray will not be a perfect fit for your mouth, so you may experience more tooth and gum sensitivity.
In-office teeth whitening
If you’re looking for a more customized fit and a faster response time, you’re better off getting your teeth whitened at your dentist’s office. Dr. Molina uses the Zoom! In-Office Whitening System, which brightens your teeth an average of eight shades in just over an hour.
Zoom!’s bleaching process lightens discoloration of both the outer enamel and the inner dentin. Research and clinical studies have shown that the system, under proper supervision by a dentist, is completely safe, though it isn’t recommended for kids under 13 or pregnant or lactating women.
To start, Dr. Molina first makes an impression of your mouth, then sends it to a lab where technicians make trays molded specifically to your teeth and gums. Once the trays are ready, he puts the whitening gel in the trays, places the appliance in your mouth, and uses a light to activate the gel and allow it to penetrate the teeth’s surface. The gel contains hydrogen peroxide, which, when broken down, allows oxygen to enter the enamel and dentin, bleaching away any discoloration.
The office also offers the Zoom! Take-Home Whitening System for patients who prefer to do the whitening themselves in the comfort of their homes. It uses a revolutionary, patent-pending gel that whitens your teeth an average of six shades in three nights when using it for four to eight hours per night. And you can brighten them even further with additional applications.
LaserSmile uses the same tray system and activation product (hydrogen peroxide) as the in-office treatment, but it takes advantage of the power of lasers to activate the gel with a safe level of heat. Because the LaserSmile treatment also requires less time than traditional treatments, it means that sensitivity, a common side effect of almost all whitening products, is reduced as well.
Are your teeth yellowed, stained, or discolored? Does your smile make you feel old or embarrassed? Trust Dr. Molina to provide the best in-office tooth whitening to make you look and feel great. Give us a call at 305-614-0211, or book a consultation with us online today.