A quick stroll through the tooth care aisle of your local drugstore reveals a variety of different products claiming to whiten and brighten your smile. But how do you know what really works and what whitening product you really need? To better understand these products, let’s take a look at how your teeth become stained and how teeth whitening products work.
What Causes Stains on Your Teeth?
- Extrinsic Stains – These stains occur on the surface of the tooth. While you may think your teeth are hard, the outer enamel is actually very porous. When you eat or drink, particles enter and accumulate in these pores, creating the staining and discoloration you see. If you are a smoker, nicotine and tar enter these pores in the same way.
- Intrinsic Stains – Intrinsic stains occur below the surface of the tooth, in the dentin. This is often caused by increased exposure to fluoride during childhood, trauma to a tooth, use of tetracycline antibiotics during childhood, or a rare condition called dentinogenesis imperfect.
- Age-Related Stains – This category is a combination of the two. As you age, the dentin in your teeth naturally becomes more yellow in appearance. At the same time, enamel thins, increasing the yellow appearance. This, in addition to staining from food, beverages, and tobacco, can greatly affect tooth color and appearance.
How Do Whitening Products Actually Whiten Your Teeth?
Now that you know what causes your teeth to appear yellow or discolored, what can you do about it? What teeth whitening products will work and how can you achieve that bright white smile again? For that answer, let’s take a closer look at the products and treatment options that are available.
Whitening Toothpaste and Mouthwashes
While whitening toothpaste and mouthwash can help improve your smile, the name is a bit deceiving. These products don’t actually contain any whitening or bleaching agents, so they aren’t technically whitening your teeth. Some products may say they contain hydrogen peroxide but, because the product does not remain on the surface of your teeth for an extended time, it is not effective in actually whitening your teeth.
So, what does whitening toothpaste actually do? In reality, all toothpaste varieties have abrasive ingredients that help clean the surface of the teeth, helping to remove stains left behind from food, beverages, and tobacco. Whitening toothpaste contains additional abrasives that increase this ability while still remaining safe for your teeth. These products are effective at removing surface stains and particles but are not able to reach into the pores of the teeth and remove that deeper discoloration. In general, whitening toothpaste can improve the whiteness of your teeth by one shade level.
Whitening strips are your first true whitening option. They use a thin player of a hydrogen or carbamide peroxide on a strip that applies directly to the surface of your teeth. This peroxide creates a chemical reaction that is able to penetrate the pores and break down the staining compounds within. These over-the-counter bleaching options contain a lower concentration of peroxide than you get in bleaching trays. In order to achieve stain removal, you usually need to apply the strips twice a day for 7 to 10 days. These products can usually achieve an improvement of one shade level.
Teeth Whitening Trays and Gel
Teeth whitening trays and gel are available over the counter or from your dentist. The gel in these products contains a higher level of peroxide, ranging from 10 to 45 percent. But how do these teeth whitening trays and gel really work? The gel fills a tray that is then placed over your teeth, allowing the gel to make full contact with every surface. But not all whitening trays and gels are created equal.
- Over-the-Counter trays – OTC products generally have the lowest concentrations and use a one-size-fits-all mouth tray. While these can be effective in whitening your teeth, they also increase the risk of gum injury. Because the tray doesn’t fit your individual bite, there is an increased risk of the gel coming into contact with your gums, leading to irritation and sensitivity.
- Custom Trays and Gels – Whitening trays and gels are available from your dentist or through SportingSmiles. These gels have a higher, professional-strength level of peroxide that comes into contact with your teeth using a custom-molded tray that matches your bite. This ensures that the gel evenly covers the surface of your teeth while reducing the risk of contact with your gums.
Custom whitening trays make all the difference when it comes to whitening your teeth. Visit SportingSmiles today to order your high-quality, low-cost, custom-fit whitening trays.
Whitening trays, whether OTC or through your dentist, provide the best whitening options. The shade difference you can expect depends on the peroxide concentrations in the gel but can range from two to nine.
At SportingSmiles, we offer professional level whitening gel with 35 percent carbamide peroxide. Our patented self-impression kit lets you create a mold of your bite which our dental technicians use to make a custom-fit whitening tray. This ensures the best possible fit and whitening process, without the expensive costs of a dental visit. For more information, visit our Teeth Whitening page today.