If your teeth are stained or discolored or just not as white as you want them to be, many different whitening treatments can help them shine again. In fact, teeth whitening is a booming business. In 2015, Americans spent more than $11 billion on teeth whitening products and treatments.
In Miami, Florida, implant and cosmetic dentist Dr. Raul G. Molina, Jr. offers in-office professional teeth whitening that will make you smile in no time at all. He even offers at-home kits for people who might want to whiten their teeth on their own time. If you’re looking to go from dull to dazzling, here’s what you need to know.
How does teeth whitening work?
No matter which whitening system you use, it contains a peroxide-based bleaching agent. At-home kits from your dentist’s office are tray-based gels that contain 3-20% peroxide. At Dr. Molina’s office, we use both tray-based gels that contain from 15-43% peroxide and laser-activated procedures.
In theory, the longer you keep the peroxide in contact with your teeth, the whiter they become. However, in reality, you shouldn’t keep the gel on too long. In fact, the higher the concentration of peroxide, the shorter it should remain in contact with the teeth. That’s because it can dehydrate them, increasing tooth and gum sensitivity.
Which teeth whitening method you use depends on a number of factors, including:
- Type of tooth discoloration
- Cost involved
- Dental history (fillings and crowns don’t bleach as well)
Tooth whitening works best when teeth start off yellowed and is less effective if they’re brown. If your teeth are gray or purple, say from deep wine stains, it’s likely tooth whitening won’t work at all.
Can’t I use a DIY kit?
You could shop at any supermarket or pharmacy and purchase an over-the-counter (OTC) whitening product, especially since there are numerous paste, strip, and gel options. But doing it yourself is an effort in frustration. Unlike dentist-administered products, the OTC varieties have no or little peroxide in them. So, if it’s the inner part of your tooth that’s discolored and not the enamel, they may not be effective, or they may take weeks to months to work. In addition, the tray in the kit won’t be a perfect fit for your mouth, which can lead to more tooth and gum sensitivity.
In-office teeth whitening
We offer two separate means of teeth whitening.
In-office teeth whitening at the dentist’s office offers a customized fit and fast response time. Dr. Molina uses the Zoom! In-Office Whitening System, which can lighten and brighten your teeth an average of eight shades in just over an hour.
Zoom!’s bleaching process tackles discoloration on both the outer enamel and the inner dentin, and both research and clinical studies have shown that when the system is used under proper supervision by a dentist, it’s completely safe. It isn’t, however, recommended for children under 13.
You’ll need two appointments. At the first, Dr. Molina makes an impression of your mouth, then sends it to an outside lab for manufacturing of the custom-designed trays. You come back for the second appointment once he’s received the trays.
At the second appointment, Dr. Molina puts the whitening gel in the trays, fits the appliance in your mouth, and uses a special light that both activates the gel and allows it to penetrate the teeth’s surface. The Zoom! gel contains hydrogen peroxide, which, when broken down, allows oxygen to enter the enamel and dentin, bleaching away both outer and inner discoloration.
We also offer the Zoom! Take-Home Whitening System for those patients who would like to try whitening in the comfort of their own homes. The revolutionary, patent-pending gel whitens your teeth an average of six shades in three nights, when you use it for four to eight hours per night. And if you want an even brighter look, you can get it with additional applications.
LaserSmile uses the same tray system and activation gel as the Zoom! treatment does, but it uses lasers to activate the gel with a safe level of heat. The LaserSmile treatment requires less time than traditional treatments, so sensitivity, a common side effect of whitening products, is reduced as well.