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Teeth Whitening:  What You Need to Know

Teeth Whitening:  What You Need to Know

A whiter smile is usually something that most people associate with youth, beauty, and confidence. But even individuals who have always carefully cared for their teeth can find that nature is working against them. Natural tooth discoloration, injuries, and even where you grow up can impact the color and shade of your teeth.

Fortunately, teeth whitening is easier than it’s ever been (and the results can have a tremendous impact on your appearance.) The catch? Not all products or application methods work the same.

Whitening Toothpastes

It seems simple enough to whiten your teeth with something you’re already using twice a day: your toothpaste.

The bad news is that toothpaste has little contact time with your teeth, so it’s not very effective when it comes to significant whitening results. It’s also a major cause of tooth sensitivity when used over an extended period of time.

But whitening toothpastes do have one great benefit: preventing new stain development after you’ve already whitened!  

Peel and Stick Whitening Strips

Over the counter and professional strength whitening strips are easy to use. Simply apply them to the front of your teeth and use your finger to shape them along the curves and gumlines.

Take care to not let the strip rest on your gums, as this could cause tissue burns or bleaching. Compared to other whitening treatments, strips can be a costlier investment due to having to purchase refill kits every time you want to touch up. 

Same Day Whitening Treatments

Jump start your whitening with a professionally applied product in your dentist’s office. The visit only takes about 30-90 minutes to complete, depending on the product being used and how your teeth respond. But once it’s over, you’ll be able to walk out the front door with dramatically brighter teeth.

In office whitening is a great option if you have a last-minute event to attend, job interview, or just don’t want to keep up with treatments at home. 

Whitening Trays

Effective and affordable, home whitening trays are one of the most preferred ways to whiten your teeth. With a tray, your whitening gel stays against the teeth right where you need it to, safely brightening them in the convenience of your own home.

Most people need to wear their trays once a day for up to 10-14 days, and touch up after their routine checkups.

Over the counter whitening kits don’t offer the same results as a tray made by your dentist. Because the trays sold at stores aren’t fully customizable, it doesn’t keep the product flush against all of the curves and surfaces of your teeth. You may even need to use more product in the tray to ensure all areas are being treated. This can lead to uneven results across your smile, not to mention chemical burns on your gums. 

At Home vs. Professional Products

Before choosing to whiten your teeth, choose your products carefully. Over the counter kits, gels, and strips are like buying medication…they’re weaker than what you can get from your healthcare provider. Professional teeth whitening products will use specially formulated blends to work more efficiently and thus produce better results in less time.

Compared to buying over the counter kits over and over, a professional treatment or set of trays can actually be a better investment. Even with a new syringe of gel every year or so, the whitening systems from your dentist’s office will cost less over time compared to constantly buying kits at the drugstore. 

Keep Existing Dental Work in Mind

If your front teeth have restorations like white fillings, bondings, crowns, or veneers, these will not whiten with your bleaching treatment. Brighter teeth around them could cause your dental work to stand out even more. If you’re thinking about replacing your old restorations, whiten your teeth first so that the new treatment can be made to match your brighter smile. 

Get a Consultation First

Before starting any type of teeth whitening treatment, you need to make sure your mouth is healthy enough. Underlying issues like gum disease or tooth decay could lead to unnecessary discomfort or even damage your smile. It’s best to talk about whitening options with your dentist during your checkup, after your teeth have been cleaned. At this time, he or she can give you an honest opinion about which delivery method would work best and if you’re a candidate.

If you haven’t seen your dentist lately, you should schedule an exam before you start whitening. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t have dental insurance through their employers these days, and as such they go without routine care. An affordable option to consider is a dental savings plan through Aetna Dental Offers. These private discount options include 15-50% off of common treatments like exams, cleanings, and – unlike most dental insurance plans – even teeth whitening! Talk to an Aetna Dental Offers savings expert today to learn more.

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