Have you ever really wanted a perfect “Hollywood”, attention-grabbing type of smile with super white teeth? You are not alone!
It is estimated that over 10 million Americans will spend over 2 billion dollars on teeth whitening products and services in 2008.
Teeth whitening is the most common cosmetic procedure done by dentists and this only accounts for a small fraction of the total industry revenue. The majority of people prefer over-the-counter teeth whitening products which available at your local pharmacy or grocery store. But do they work?
Need for Teeth Whitening
The problem is that tooth enamel is porous, which means staining agents can work their way down into the tooth, where you cannot scrape them away. These deeper stains are harmless, but many people find them unattractive.
This is why people need teeth whiteners. These whiteners use bleaching chemicals to get down into the tooth enamel and set off a chemical oxidation reaction which breaks apart the staining compounds.
Most teeth whiteners use one of two chemical agents: carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide (hair bleach). When used in the mouth, carbamide peroxide breaks down into hydrogen peroxide. So even with carbamide peroxide - hydrogen peroxide is the actual active whitening ingredient.
Professional Teeth Whitening
Your dentist can whiten your teeth through a mixture of carbamide or hydrogen peroxide, tailored to meet your needs. He may want to do all the treatments in his office or he might make a mold of your teeth and have you do the treatments yourself at home. Before the tooth whitening treatment, most dentists clean the teeth, fill any cavities, and make sure the patient’s gums are healthy. This is very important because teeth whitening is much more effective on cleaner teeth!
Most professional systems use 15 to 35 percent hydrogen peroxide gels, sometimes coupled with a high intensity light to expedite the bleaching chemical reaction. However some recent research has questioned the effectiveness of the light sources used during in-office tooth whitening and says that it does next to nothing.
These in-office procedures involves the dentist gently cleaning your teeth with pumice and then putting a protective barrier on the gums. The dentist then places hydrogen peroxide paste on the teeth for several minutes, rinses it off, and usually reapplies it several times. The procedure can achieve about four to six shades of whitening after only one 40-minute treatment.
The at-home systems on the other hand will often use 10 to 20 percent carbamide peroxide gels that also contain glycerin, carbomer, sodium hydroxide, water, and flavoring agents. Some gels that contain more than 10 percent carbamide peroxide will also include sodium fluoride to reduce sensitivity and strengthen teeth.
To begin the at-home procedure, the dentist takes impressions (molds) of your mouth, and then has soft, custom mouth trays made. To administer the treatment, you put a thin ribbon of the gel into the tray and wear it for two hours during the day, or while sleeping. Most whitening occurs in the first two weeks. However in some cases, trays may need to be worn for up to six weeks. Using a combination of in-office and at-home systems can achieve up to 12 to 15 shades of whitening with some people.
The disadvantages of dentist whitening solutions include higher cost and longer time required to get started. They entire procedure can cost between $300-$1,000 and sometimes more. There may also be a wait to get started. You have to schedule an appointment, wait to be seen, and then be treated.
Over-the-counter teeth whitening also products also involve the use of carbamide or hydrogen peroxide except in weaker concentrations. However, if you plan on using these products, it’s very important to have your teeth professionally cleaned by a dental hygenist before you start using these products. The results will be far better with cleaner teeth.
There is a wide range of home whitening products available. The most popular home whitening products range from rom plastic teeth molds and carbamide or hydrogen peroxide gels to hydrogen peroxide containing polyethylene strips. These products are effective to different degrees. However, don’t expect amazing results.
Only expect to get 5 shades whiter from these at over-the-counter products best case scenario. Below are my ratings for some of the different products that I have tested. The point systems indicate how many shades whiter I was able to make my teeth using these products.
- Crest Whitestrips Supreme
- MetaTray Whitening System
- Crest Whitestrips Daily Multicare
- Opalescence Xtra Boost Teeth Whitening System
- Rembrandt Plus Superior Bleaching System
- Rembrandt Whitening Strips
- Crest Whitestrips Premium Plus
- iWhite Maintenance Stick
- BriteSmile Teeth Whitening System
- Listerine Whitening Quick Dissolving Strips
- BriteSmile To Go Whitening Pen
- Rembrandt In-Office Whitening System
- iWhite Light Activated Teeth Whitening Kit
- Zoom Teeth Whitening System
- Aquafresh White Trays
- Rembrandt 2 Hour White
- Rembrandt Quick White Speed Whitening
- Zoom 2 Teeth Whitening System
The main benefit of these over-the-counter teeth whitening products are the cost. Few cost more than $35, and some are even less than $10. Another benefit is their availability. All you need to do is go to your local drugstore and you can start whitening your teeth right away. However these products only work to a very limited degree.
Teeth Whitening Spas
Brite Smile is a teeth whitening spa which offers one hour spa treatments that can get you up to 14 shades whiter with only a single one hour visit. They claim that the results last for years. This entire professional spa is dedicated to providing their clients with the latest state-of-the-art teeth whitening technology. They seem to have great results, however the prices is kind of steep, expect to pay $399-600 for a single visit.
The Brite Smile company is doing really well and they now have 16 spas in major cities across the United States. These spas seem to be the latest craze with the teeth whitening crowd.
Best Overall Whitening Product
Based on my experience, the best overall teeth whitening solution is the professional dental bleaching system provided by Direct White.
Direct White creates all their mouthpieces at a dental lab using impressions of your teeth that you made at home and are very comfortable to wear and minimize gum sensitivity. The process is simple and doesn’t taste bad. I was also able to make my teeth at least 10 shades whiter with this product!
This solution has the best results (10 shades whiter) for the lowest price ($59-79). You cannot beat their effectiveness for anywhere near the cost.
With their teeth whitening solution you are sent an impression kit in the mail that you use to make an impres