The Ultimate Guide to Teeth Whitening | Hydrogen Peroxide Methodology
Teeth Whitening your teeth is easily achievable, and there are many treatment options that can safely help you whiten your teeth including with professional hydrogen peroxide products from the dental office. A whiter, brighter smile can be achieved using one of the following:
- Whitening treatments in our office
- At-home whitening
If you want to whiten your teeth by several shades, our dentists can often help you get the results that you want faster than with an at-home treatment.
Before seeking treatment for discolored teeth, it’s important to know why and how your teeth became discolored in the first place. After all, if you follow the same bad habits that led to your teeth yellowing, your teeth will eventually yellow again.
How and Why Teeth Become Discolored
Your teeth are continually touching foods, drinks and other items which can cause them to discolor. The two main types of discoloration are:
1. Extrinsic Discoloration
When extrinsic discoloration occurs, this is a fancy way of saying that external elements are causing the teeth to yellow. Staining that occurs on the exterior of the teeth is often caused by:
- Dyed foods
These stains, since they’re on the outside of the teeth, can be treated using many at-home options, including teeth whitening toothpaste.
2. Intrinsic Discoloration
Intrinsic discoloration is the opposite of extrinsic. Instead, the discoloration occurs from the inside of the tooth. Due to the extent of the discoloration, professional bleaching may be required to help you achieve the results that you desire.
If you suffer from intrinsic discoloration, there’s often little that you can do to stop the condition from occurring.
The most common causes of this discoloration are:
- Illness during childhood
- Lysing of red blood cells in a root canaled tooth
- Trauma to the teeth resulting is a dental emergency
- Medication use
We’ll examine your teeth, better understand what’s causing your staining and our staff will determine if whitening is an option for your type of staining.
Teeth Whitening Options Available
If you watch television commercials, you’re likely to come across a plethora of teeth whitening products. Some products exaggerate claims, while others work safely to lift stains and help whiten teeth.
In general, you have three main options to whiten your teeth:
A dentist-dispensed product is one that we’ll give to you so that you can do all of the treatments in the comfort of your home.
The treatment that your dentist recommends may be based on multiple factors, such as:
- Age (for children)
- Dental history
- Type of discoloration
- Level of discoloration
- Previous or future Porcelain Veneers
If you schedule routine cleanings and checkups and are seeking whitening, you should discuss your options with one of our dentists. We’ll be able to examine your teeth and recommend a variety of approaches that can be taken to whiten the teeth.
With respect to overall costs take home trays can cost anywhere from $300-$400 and in office Zoom treatment can range for $600-$700. Over the counter options can also cost anywhere from $20 to $200 but usually results are questionable and generally don’t last an extended period of time. Quite often following Invisalign we can provide take home tray whitening at a dramatically reduced cost.
Professional Teeth Whitening Options and Procedures
Whitening treatment options are always expanding, but the most common methods include treatment at home or in the office. Most in-office treatments will involve bleaching your teeth with a substance called “carbamide peroxide.”
Carbamide peroxide breaks down into urea and hydrogen peroxide, which are known to target the chemical reaction in teeth that is responsible for yellowing.
When undergoing this treatment, you’ll often spend an hour in the office. In-office treatments apply large amounts of carbamide peroxide to whiten teeth, and with a dentist’s supervision, the treatment method is completely safe.
The ideal candidate for in-office teeth whitening is someone that has:
A popular method used to whiten your teeth in the office called the Zoom Procedure.
Zoom Procedure to Whiten Teeth
Whitening is also possible with the Zoom procedure. The entire procedure takes about 90 minutes and requires the following:
- Regular teeth cleanings prior to whitening
- Updated dental x-rays to make sure no underlying cavities are present
Once you’re properly prepped, you’ll have a dental assistant or one of our dentists perform the procedure. A whitening gel consisting of hydrogen peroxide will be applied to your teeth.
The Zoom light will then be used, which will penetrate deep into the teeth to start breaking up all of the stains that are causing your discoloration.
The whitening gel stays on the teeth during the time that the light remains active. Traditionally, the gel and light portion of the procedure lasts 15 minutes. During this time, you can relax or listen to music.
More gel will be applied over the course of up to four sessions.
Total active light treatment duration is 45 to 60 minutes.
Since your teeth will be sensitive following the procedure, we’ll likely apply a special sensitivity-reducing gel or paste to your teeth that contains fluoride.
Zoom and Teeth Whitening Aftercare
Your teeth are white, or at least whiter, but you’ll want to continue with touch-up routines to maintain your whitening results. As your cosmetic dentist we’ll provide you with a list of instructions that you’ll follow after the procedure.
A custom-fitted tray will be given to you along with an at-home touch-up kit that you’ll use based on the dentist’s recommendations.
On top of the touch-up kit, there are going to be lifestyle changes and recommendations to follow to keep your teeth white. Typically, we recommend not consuming, or at least cutting back on, certain foods and beverages, such as wine, coffee, soda and tea.
Tobacco products should also be avoided, even after whitening, or the stains will come back.
Additional recommendations following a professional cleaning will often include:
- Maintain an optimal oral hygiene routine that includes brushing your teeth at least twice daily and flossing
- Regular dental cleanings and checkups to keep your teeth and gums in optimal health
- Changing to a toothpaste that is designed for teeth whitening to better maintain your results following a procedure
Don't worry – we’ll go over all of these recommendations with you.
Things to Consider Before the Zoom Teeth Whitening Procedure
Teeth whitening can make your teeth sensitive, and the sensitivity will vary from person-to-person. While most people are surprised by the lack of pain or discomfort during treatment, there will be:
- Minimal heat production from the light
- Tingling following the procedure (rare)
You may want to use anti-sensitivity toothpaste for a few weeks leading up to your procedure and after the procedure, too.
While most people are good candidates for the procedure, Zoom is not recommended for:
- Children under 13
- Pregnant women
- Lactating women
Results can vary, and we’ll often conduct what is known as a “shade assessment” to determine what shade you can expect your teeth to be following the procedure.
At-Home Teeth Whitening Options and Procedures
At-home treatments are available either through a dentist or over-the-counter (OTC). When you choose the at-home options through your dentist, these will often include the creation of a custom-tray that is designed to fit your unique teeth.
Depending on the whitening method chosen, we’ll often require you to do the following to see results at-home:
- Wear the tray for 30 to 60 minutes per day
- Use for 10 to 14 days
A special gel will need to be applied to the trays to whiten the teeth.
If you’re choosing an OTC option, you’ll find that the main difference is in the effectiveness of the treatment. These at-home products contain little or no carbamide peroxide, and while they may work fine for someone who has minor stains, they’ll fail to whiten severe discoloration.
There are also multiple whitening products to choose from:
Oftentimes, the first product a person will try is a whitening toothpaste. These products use chemicals, abrasives and/or other ingredients to target surface stains on the teeth. Blue covarine, a chemical that may be in the toothpaste you choose, can provide quicker results.
Whitening strips are common and contain a small amount of carbamide peroxide. You'll need to apply the strips one or more times a day.
If you’re looking for a natural remedy for teeth discoloration, activated charcoal is an option. This option is still not studied enough to know if it works effectively or not, and you’ll want to consult with your dentist prior to usage.
Whitening your teeth is safe, when you follow product guidelines or dentist recommendations. If you use whitening products outside of their recommended usage, you may suffer from severe tooth sensitivity or experience more side effects.
If you have multiple teeth colors, due to variations in discoloration or due to dentures, fillings, bridges, implants, crowns, discuss your options with the dentist at Lighthouse Dental Centre during your next appointment.
We may be the more expensive option when seeking whitening, but these professional whitening methods at our office will provide superior results to at-home methods. And if you have any issues with color variations or dental conditions that may impact your whitening, we can help with our wide range of services.