Everybody loves a bright white smile, and there are a variety of products and procedures available to help you improve the look of yours. Many people are satisfied with the sparkle they get from daily oral hygiene and regular cleanings at your dentist’s office, but if you decide you would like to go beyond this to make your smile look brighter, you should investigate all of your whitening options.

Start by speaking with Dr Howe. He can tell you whether whitening procedures would be effective for you. Whiteners may not correct all types of discoloration. For example, yellow-ish hued teeth will probably bleach well, brownish-colored teeth may bleach less well, and grayish-hued teeth may not bleach well at all. If you have had bonding or tooth-colored fillings placed in your front teeth, the whitener will not brighten the color of these materials. Remaining the same color, these areas may be noticeably darker than your newly whitened natural teeth. You may want to investigate other options, like porcelain veneers or crowns.

If you are a candidate for whitening there are several ways to whiten your smile:

At-home bleaching. Peroxide-containing whiteners actually bleach the tooth enamel. They typically come in a gel and are placed in a custom-fitted tray made by our office specifically for you. Usage regimens vary. There are potential side effects, such as increased sensitivity or gum irritation. Dr Howe advocates this style of whitening because it offers more control over strength of gel used and duration trays are worn based on individual patient needs and preferences. People prone to sensitivity can choose to wear trays at home for a shorter daily time period. Whitening methods performed within the dental office with lights or lasers can be high-intensity resulting in extreme tooth sensitivity. Over-the-counter white strips may be less costly but have limited capacity to whiten the areas between teeth.

Over-the-counter gel kits provide a stock tray whereby the gel oozes out allowing you to swallow it. Over-the-counter gels are also less likely to contain buffers resulting in more sensitivity than dentist-provided gels.

Whitening toothpastes. All toothpastes help remove surface stain through the action of mild abrasives. “Whitening” toothpastes in the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance program have special chemical or polishing agents that provide additional stain removal effectiveness. Unlike bleaches, these ADA Accepted products do not change the color of teeth because they can only remove stains on the surface. Remember when selecting a dental product, be sure to look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance—your assurance that they have met ADA standards of safety and effectiveness.