A bright white smile has always been in popular demand, and is especially sought after during wedding season. Today, there are so many different whitening products on the market to help keep your teeth pearly white – both at-home and in-office. But which option is best? And is whitening a good option for everyone? Choosing whitening products can be overwhelming, so here’s a breakdown of some of the most popular options from the perspective of a dental professional.
Over-the-counter whitening strips are one of the most popular products on the market. They’re readily available and easy to use. The main whitening ingredient in these strips, like professional bleaching products, is hydrogen peroxide. These strips have been shown to produce great results: whitening teeth by one to two shades in as little as 14 days. In-office or professionally applied bleaching agents (e.g. Zoom®) tend to produce better results in a shorter amount of time, and in as little as one dental appointment. Having said that, these products have higher concentrations of whitening agents, and thereby, have a higher chance of adverse effects such as tooth sensitivity and gingival irritation. Be sure to follow manufacturer and dental provider instructions when choosing these options.
Whitening toothpastes are another popular option on the market today. Unlike whitening strips and bleaching agents, whitening toothpastes most commonly use an abrasive material to physically remove the stain, rather than chemically doing so. However, an abrasive toothpaste can potentially cut enamel and dentin structure, causing associated sensitivity and gingival recession. Be wary of this when using an abrasive toothpaste, especially for those who are aggressive brushers to begin with. AS well, be sure to select an option that is approved by the CDA (Canadian Dental Association), and contains ingredients that are beneficial to your oral health, such as fluoride, especially if you are using the product as your daily paste.
How do I know if whitening products are right for me? Whitening products are most effective at combating discoloration caused by extrinsic (or external) staining. This includes factors such as smoking, and ingesting food or drink that stains teeth easily. If you’re a regular coffee or tea drinker, for example, you would be a good candidate for whitening. Whitening products are less likely to combat discoloration caused by intrinsic (or internal) factors, however, such as side-effects of certain antibiotics or fluorosis. Those who are prone to sensitivity or have gum disease, worn enamel, or restorations that have been color-matched should avoid whitening.
If you are considering a whitening product, I recommend you consult with your dental provider first. As well, I ask that you keep in mind that oral health is much more than just cosmetics. Good oral hygiene is crucial in maintaining a white, and healthy smile. Brush and floss regularly, and don’t miss your routine dental check-ups. The best time to start your whitening regimen is after a thorough cleaning by your dental hygienist. We look forward to seeing that pearly white smile walk in the door!