With the rise of social media, photo sharing, and selfies, it is estimated that approximately one in four people avoid smiling in photos because they do not like the way their teeth look. Many people also say that their teeth are the first thing they would like to change about their appearance. It is common to opt for home remedies, drug store whitening products, and advertised promotions to try to brighten teeth in a cost efficient way, but we recommend consulting with your dentist for the safest and most efficient options to suit your needs.
Teeth Whitening Products
Store-bought products like whitening gum, toothpastes and strips tend to provide small improvements by reducing surface stains on the teeth. The results tend to be less dramatic than professional teeth whitening, and also don’t last as long. Lifestyle factors such as smoking, drinking coffee, and daily care routines also affect how long whitening results will last.
If you opt for a professional consultation, your local dentist can assess the cause and severity of your discolouration and recommend a take-home or in-office treatment to achieve your desired results. Your family dentist can also identify if there are any teeth that cannot be whitened with traditional bleaching methods due to root canals, implants, or decay. Before beginning cosmetic treatment, your dentist will check the overall health of your teeth to ensure there are no underlying issues.
Cosmetic Dental Teeth Whitening
When you whiten your teeth either under the supervision of your family dentist or in the dental office, the active ingredients will be stronger and more effective. Your family dentist can recommend either a prescribed take-home kit or in-office laser whitening.
A take-home kit consists of custom moulds made by your dentist to fit your teeth along with a prescribed whitening gel. Your dentist will check your teeth before, during, and after the treatment. The results are usually very effective and patients may require touch ups every six months to a year.
In our North Vancouver Dental office we offer in-office laser teeth whitening as a faster and less messy option to achieve professional results. A protective shell keeps the gums safe while the teeth are painted with a whitening solution. A blue laser is then held to the teeth to activate the solution and enhance the whitening. The process takes around an hour and results are immediate, rather than gradual improvements over several weeks.
Salon Teeth Whitening
We advise against any advertised or discounted whitening treatments provided by beauty salons or unlicensed providers. High strength whitening solutions should only be used under the supervision of a certified dentist. Concentrated bleaching products that are applied incorrectly can result in chemical burns and permanent damage to the teeth and enamel. Beauticians are also not trained to identify any other oral health issues that may be related.
Store Bought Teeth Whitening Products
For minor teeth whitening there are plenty of drug store options available such as toothpastes, strips, and gels. Below is an overview of what you can expect.
- Whitening chewing gum: Improvements will be marginal but the mechanical action of chewing and the generation of saliva helps protect the teeth from bacteria.
- Whitening toothpastes: These tend to have mild abrasive polishing agents and a small amount of peroxide. They are a helpful contributor but won’t provide dramatic improvements.
- Whitening strips and kits: These kits contain a lower concentration of peroxide and one-size-fits-all trays or strips. The results are usually only noticeable when the product is used regularly over a longer period of time. Without customised trays, some teeth may not get treated as well and the overall results will be surface level and last up to a few months.
Health Canada has not found any risks associated with store bought teeth-whitening products that are used as directed for the recommended amount of time. If you’re serious about improving your smile, book yourself an appointment to discuss additional cosmetic dentistry options available to you.