While many people have heard of kits for teeth whitening at home, few know that many dentists also offer teeth whitening services. Teeth whitening helps lighten and whiten teeth, sometimes removing stains and discoloration. Whitening is very popular, but the methods for whitening teeth vary greatly, and there are a lot of scams out there.
Obviously, dentists are in a good place to know which products are most effective for their patients, and which to avoid. So which teeth whitening products do dentists use, and how can they help someone with stained or discolored teeth?
Many times, teeth are less than white because they have become stained over time. Drinks like wine, tea, and coffee are the usual cause, as is smoking. Most of these stains can be easily removed with a polishing and whitening toothpaste. A dentist or dental hygienist can do this as part of a regularly scheduled teeth cleaning.
Hydrogen Peroxide: Opalescence Boost
For tooth discoloration that is not due to mere staining, whitening needs to penetrate the surface of the tooth to help with the color change. Many dental offices use some form of a chemical called hydrogen peroxide to do this.
This hydrogen peroxide is much more concentrated than the stuff you can get in a bottle from the drug store. It penetrates into the teeth to change their color from the inside.
One hydrogen peroxide-based product many dentists prefer is Opalescence Boost. The main ingredient in Opalescence Boost is a gel that contains roughly 38% hydrogen peroxide. This is what whitens and brightens the teeth. A second chemical, potassium nitrate, is also applied to help strengthen the tooth enamel, reduce sensitivity, and protect against cavities. When mixed, the two chemicals become a distinct red color; this helps ensure that the gel is placed on the teeth where it needs to be, and is taken off fully when done.
One of the great things about Opalescence Boost is that the procedure takes only one visit to complete (although really difficult stains or discolored teeth might take two or three sessions). It is incredibly safe and effective—when administered by a professional, of course.
Whitening Gel with Ultraviolet Light Boost
Some whitening gels are further activated by using specific wavelengths of light. This makes the process safer for patients and quicker, meaning less time in the dentist’s chair. Zoom! teeth whitening is an example of this kind of system.
Here one dentist explains teeth whitening using his newly acquired Zoom! teeth whitening system:
Laser Teeth Whitening
Lasers have now been with us for decades, but it has only been in recent years that dental researchers have figured out safe, efficient ways to use lasers to whiten teeth. The lasers are used to heat and “activate” a hydrogen peroxide bleaching gel, which does the work of the whitening. Typically, this method for teeth whitening can brighten teeth from six up to 12 shades brighter.
Although it sounds dangerous, laser teeth whitening is completely safe when the appropriate measures are taken. For example, the dentist will place a protective liquid barrier over the gum line. This prevents the laser light from accidentally heating up sensitive tissues in the mouth. It also helps prevent accidentally weakening teeth and gums, which at-home bleaching kits can do.
Finding Teeth Whitening Services Near You
Using a dentist to oversee your teeth whitening is a good idea. He or she can ensure that the products are used safely and correctly. The results are usually better, and it takes less time than most at-home kits.
To find a dentist near you that offers teeth whitening services, we recommend trying out our find a dentist tool.