Teeth Whitening The Plain TruthTeeth Whitening The Plain Truth

Virtually everyone wanting to brighten their smile can benefit from teeth whitening. Patients with teeth that are discolored due to age, smoking or other extrinsic staining factors are excellent candidates for teeth whitening. Research indicates that teeth whitening is completely effective in more than 78% of people. As teeth whitening continues to grow in popularity, research continues into all types of whitening systems.

Teeth whitening is not permanent, and works by removing the organic materials in the enamel by dissolving them with a peroxide derivative. Also, teeth whitening is only effective if there is a lot of enamel.

There are two principle forms of teeth whitening: professional whitening and teeth whitening kits.

Professional Teeth Whitening

The most effective and safest method of teeth whitening is the dentist-supervised procedure. First, the dentist will determine whether you are a candidate for teeth whitening and what type of whitening system would provide the best results. The dentist should also go over what you personally can expect for your individual situation. Before the teeth whitening treatment, most dentists clean the teeth, fill any cavities, and make sure the patient's gums are healthy.

Dentists will usually advise trying teeth whitening first, to avoid the need for more complex cosmetic work. Complications that can occur in professional teeth whitening are infrequent and are usually minor in nature. Overall, teeth whitening under professional supervision is an effective method for whitening the teeth.

Teeth Whitening Kits

An alternative method to professional teeth whitening is to use a teeth whitening system or kit. Most teeth whitening systems consists of a whitening gel that is placed in mouthpieces that fit over your teeth for various amounts of time. On average, quality teeth whitening kits cost approximately $500 to $800. Budget teeth whitening systems start at around $29.95, though they are generally less effective.

The American Dental Association has granted its seal of approval to some teeth whitening products, so be sure and look for the ADA mark of approval if you are going to purchase a whitening kit. It is important that the manufacturer's directions are followed precisely when using an at home teeth whitening kit. Also, do not use a teeth whitening product for more than 14 days without consulting a dental professional.

Disadvantages and Limitations of Teeth Whitening

Although teeth whitening is very effective, there can be short term disadvantages, such as sore gums or sore teeth from the bleach. Crowns, bridges, bonding, and fillings only return to their original coloring; they do not lighten any further with professional teeth whitening. Different stains require different solutions, therefore it is important to have a consultation with an oral health professional before trying a teeth whitening product.

While teeth whitening does create brighter smiles, some people's expectations are very high and they are disappointed with the results.

Research continues into all types of whitening systems. Due to its effectiveness, teeth whitening is sure to continue to grow in popularity. Regular professional teeth cleaning by your dentist will help support the lasting success of teeth whitening.

Consider teeth whitening if your teeth are darkened from age, coffee, tea or smoking.

by Jon Leger
References and Bibliography

Jonathan Leger runs a website devoted to the latest in dental care. It has a section dedicated to tooth whitening

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