Although teeth whitening is the hottest trend in cosmetic dentistry, the desire for a brighter smile is not new. People have tried to find the best methods to whiten their teeth for centuries. The ancient Egyptians cleaned their teeth with vinegar and ground pumice, although the abrasion of the pumice and the acid in the vinegar would have brightened their teeth temporarily, it also would destroy the enamel over time. Dentists were using chloride of lime in 1848; subsequent attempts included sulphurous acid, pyrozone, oxalic acid, and aluminum chloride.
Fast-forwarding to the 20th century, patients in Phoenix, and worldwide, now have safe, effective methods to whiten their teeth. The three main options today are in-office whitening, take-home kits provided by the dentist, and over the counter (OTC) products available at your local store. Hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide is the active ingredient in both dental and OTC options. Professional oversight and the strength of the solutions are the principal differences between them.
Over the counter
Some of the options you will see on the shelves in stores are rinses, toothpastes, gels, pens, trays, and strips. The advantages to these products are price and accessibility. The active ingredient is typically 3 to 10 percent hydrogen peroxide. The disadvantages of OTC whitening are lack of a professional evaluation to determine if there are oral issues that would contraindicate whitening, a weaker whitening solution, and irritation of the oral tissues when trays don’t fit properly or strips contact gum tissue.
The whitening agent used for in-office treatments has the highest concentration of hydrogen peroxide, typically between 15 and 40 percent. The main advantage to this option is professional care, no requirement for patients to comply with a treatment plan, and instant results. The treatment is completed in a single appointment. The disadvantages are cost and an increased risk of dental hypersensitivity.
The take-home tray kits provided by the dentist usually contain 10 to 35 percent carbamide peroxide, and the trays are customized for a precise fit. The advantages to this option are a pre-treatment professional evaluation, the custom trays are less likely to cause irritation than boil-and-bite trays available over the counter, the convenience and privacy of whitening at home, and significantly lower cost than in-office whitening. The disadvantages are the results are not as fast as in-office whitening, and the patient must comply with the predetermined time and frequency of wearing the trays.
If you want a whiter, brighter Phoenix smile, visit Dr. Koppikar and his team at Biltmore Dental Center. After an exam and evaluation, the doctor can help you choose the best option for you. Call (602) 954-8200 for an appointment.