Teeth whitening explained

If you flip on the television at any time of the day, you’re likely to see commercials featuring young, vibrant models and actors with striking looks and a set of flawless white teeth. 

If you’re a bit envious, the shimmering white teeth may be easier to achieve than you think. There are several teeth whitening methods available today. In-office procedures, performed by a dentist will yield the best results. But there are also in-home whitening kits, over-the counter strips and special formulated toothpastes available at the local drugstore.

Consult with your dentist if you are planning to start a teeth-whitening procedure. Expect at least a minor cleaning to remove excess tartar and plaque before the procedure begins. Just before applying a hydrogen peroxide paste, your dentist will place a barrier over your gums as protection from the solution.

Usually your dentist will apply multiple layers of the paste, leaving each layer on for several minutes before rinsing it away. In some cases, a laser light will be used to help enhance the bleaching agents. From a safety standpoint, the gel or paste will contain about 3.6 percent hydrogen peroxide which should be safe for your tooth enamel, according to the American Dental Association. If the level of hydrogen peroxide is higher, your dentist may provide a prescription strength fluoride to help protect your teeth.

The ADA says that you should expect to spend about 40 to 60 minutes at the dentist’s office to allow several layers of the whitening formula to be applied. Professional teeth whitening can cost anywhere from $300 to $2,000.

Talk to your dentist if you have any questions or reservations about undergoing a teeth whitening procedure. Sign in to Angie’s List to read trusted patient reviews of highly rated dentists in the Chicago area.


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