White smileWhite smile loss is a natural phenomenon of aging that over the years teeth change color and get much darker due to the formation of accumulation from a variety of reasons with minute cracks. Today, it seems that everyone these days is focused on teeth whitening (also know as bleaching). Due to these modern day demands, there is a large and ever growing palette of whitening possibilities for the consumer. However, it is important to be informed when selecting a method of whitening.

There are two ways of bringing back your white smile – the inexpensive, over-the-counter method preferred by the do-it-yourselfers, or to have it done professionally by your dentist. If price is the deciding factor, over-the-counter options will win, but upon closer analysis these facts may help you to choose differently.

To obtain satisfactory results, over-the-counter whitening chemicals must be strong and can be harsh on teeth, but they painfully affect the gums as well. To produce the desired effect, the chemicals must have intimate contact with the tooth surface.  If teeth have accumulated plaque and invisible films of sticky deposits, the whitening gel will only act on the unaffected areas and this may result in spots of different shades on the teeth.

The whitening process in a dentist’s office is always preceded by a professional cleaning to prevent spotting. Dentists also protect the gums by applying a barrier designed to reduce direct contact with the bleaching agents.

Tooth sensitivity often occurs after bleaching. A more dramatic development is burning of the gums; a very frequent phenomenon among the over-the-counter users who do not know how to remedy this nasty and painful side effect. A professional will be able to alleviate tooth sensitivity and gum burning will not be an issue due to precautions taken before the whitening process.

Dental offices also supply their patients with post-whitening instructions, as there are some general rules. After the whitening process avoid high-pigmented foods for a few days, due to the fact that the teeth will continue to whiten. This is a residual late whitening effect, which is a normal occurrence with professional whitening. Consuming food such as tea, red wine, grapes or red and blue fruits will compromise this part of the treatment. A rule of thumb is not to consume any food that would leave a stain on white clothing.

In summary, when debating which method to follow, the best approach is to look for a professional who offers special programs designated to give you a professional, cost-effective and safe in-office procedure with all the advantages. Some cosmetic-oriented dental offices have developed hygiene programs with whitening incorporated into them; these will assure the maintenance of your gum health and also the brilliance of a beautiful white smile.

© 2010 All rights reserved Dr Florian Braich DDS PhD