Are you frustrated by the shade of your teeth? Are your teeth stained or do they have a generally yellow tint? It's not uncommon for teeth to lose their brightness and fade in color, especially as you age. If you smoke or drink coffee, that could also accelerate the development of a yellow tint on your teeth. The good news is that you have options available to bring back your bright smile. There are a range of both over-the-counter and dentist-supervised treatments that vary in both effectiveness and cost. Here are a few of the most popular options for whitening teeth:
Whitening strips. These over-the-counter solutions are available at most grocery stores, pharmacies, and other stores that sell mouth care products. You simply apply the strips for a short period of time each day. The strips have a peroxide-based gel on them that is designed to remove yellow staining and whiten your teeth. After applying the strips daily for a couple of weeks, you should see a noticeable, but subtle, change in the shade of your teeth.
Strips are possibly the easiest and most cost-effective way to whiten your teeth. However, strips likely won't bring your teeth all the way back to their whitest possible level. Also, you can expect the results to be temporary and likely fade away after a few months.
Whitening trays. As the name suggests, these are are trays that you wear over your teeth for a defined period each day. The trays contain a peroxide bleaching agent. There are both over-the-counter solutions and dentist-prescribed options. The biggest difference between the two is how they fit your teeth, which impacts effectiveness. The over-the-counter trays are one-size-fits-all, which means they may not form a tight seal with your teeth. On the other hand, dentist-prescribed trays are often made to fit your specific teeth, forming a tight seal and maximizing your teeth's exposure to the bleaching agent.
Trays are usually more expensive than strips, but they can also be more effective. You wear the trays for a longer period of time each day and you keep using them several weeks. You could see a more dramatic change in your teeth and longer-lasting results than you would with strips.
In-office treatments. For the quickest and most dramatic results, you may want to consider in-office teeth whitening sessions. During these sessions, your dentist will apply a bleaching agent directly to your teeth. He or she may then apply heat, light, or a laser to accelerate the effects of the bleaching agent. These sessions can last as long as an hour and you could see results after just one visit. For the biggest results, you may need to visit your dentist several times. Also, to keep your teeth consistently white, you may need to repeat the sessions semi-regularly, such as on an annual basis.
While in-office treatments can be the most effective solution, they can also be the most costly. It's also possible that your dental insurance may not cover them since they're not medically necessary.
For more information, talk to your dentist. He or she can recommend the best whitening solution for your goals and your budget.