Teeth Whitening Can Brighten One’s Smile
Question: “Dr. Arnold, I have never been happy with the color of my teeth. Does bleaching the teeth really work, and what are the options?”
Answer: Teeth whitening can be effective for many people, but not everyone. Some people have intrinsic (within the teeth) stain that isn't likely to whiten very much. For patients with multiple restorations in the front teeth, they will probably get very little benefit from whitening. Additionally, these patients often need to replace their existing dental work to match the newly whitened teeth because dental restorations won't whiten.
On the other hand, whitening systems are often very effective for people with extrinsic (surface) staining and very few anterior restorations. There are many options available, and sometimes making a decision as to which system to use can be somewhat overwhelming. There are whitening toothpastes, over-the-counter products, daytime or nighttime whitening systems, and in-office whitening technology, all of which have varying degrees of effectiveness.
Whitening toothpastes and other over-the-counter whiteners are effective for some people, are milder and less expensive than those used by dentists, and can be used without the supervision of a dental team. However, the results are often less dramatic and often don't last as long. I tell many of my patients that these products are worth a try, are relatively inexpensive, and that we can help them achieve more substantial results if they are dissatisfied.
The most popular professional whitening systems generally involve stronger whitening agents and either take-home bleaching trays or faster in-office whitening technology. The take-home products usually take about two weeks to get the desired effect.
We offer take-home products that are effective with two hours of daytime use or several hours of nighttime use. Bleaching trays made in a dental office are custom made and are usually very comfortable for patients.
In-office whitening systems have become extremely popular due to the "instant gratification" aspect. At a time when people seem to be busier than ever, many people prefer one-hour solutions like Zoom2 or Britesmile. These in-office systems are generally more expensive because of the cost of the technology, the whitening materials, and the additional time and expertise required by the dental team.
The efficacy of these products is generally determined by the strength of the whitening agents, patient compliance, the beginning color of the teeth, how many restorations are present, and the patient's diet. People who drink a lot of coffee, red wine, colas, or who smoke regularly, will most likely need to "touch-up" their whitening more frequently - regardless of the technique that is utilized.
Teeth whitening seems to be more popular than ever because many people want to have whiter, brighter teeth. Remember that teeth whitening can be effective for most people, but not everyone. Consult with your dental team for more specific advice to make sure that you get the results that you want.
Dr. Jim Arnold is a practicing dentist in Chesterton and Valparaiso. He is also a clinical mentor with the Hornbrook Group and serves on the Advisory Board for the Academy of Comprehensive Esthetics as the Fellowship Chairman. You may send questions to his office at: 1830 South 11th Street, Chesterton, IN 46304 or email them to: drarnold@SmilesByArnold.com. More information on this or many other dental topics can be found at www.SmilesByArnold.com.