Thursday, February 21, 2008

Are All Tooth Whiteners the Same?

Tooth whitening was discovered by accident by dentists who traditionally use peroxide in the mouth after dental surgery. They noticed the effects of peroxide on tooth discoloration due to coffee, tea, colas, smoking, and other substances. Whitening has now become a common process.

There are two main kinds of tooth whitening treatments, those carried out in a dentist's office and those done at home. The procedure in the dentist's office, with laser activation, can take a little over an hour; the procedure at home can take days or weeks. This article will discuss the latter, home treatments.

Home treatments include those dispensed by dentists and those bought over-the-counter. To get to the root of the differences, you must first look at who regulates or sets guidelines for tooth whiteners. Since they are not considered as drugs by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the FDA does not regulate them.

In place of regulation, the American Dental Association (ADA) has set minimal guidelines for safety and effectiveness. The only products to have received the ADA Seal of Acceptance are tray-based products dispensed by dentists. The active ingredient in these ADA-accepted products is carbamide peroxide at 10% concentration. The active ingredient found in many over-the-counter products is hydrogen peroxide.

Your dentist should be your first advisor on which over-the-counter product is best for you, based on the nature of your tooth discoloration and your dental history, as well as safety. You can also ask your dentist or do your own research online as to which manufacturers have a reputation for making quality products, and which manufacturers conduct their own research.

As a general rule, there has been extensive testing of carbamide peroxide-based whiteners, but very little of hydrogen peroxide, something to be taken into consideration when choosing.

Another consideration is the condition of your teeth. It is safe to whiten your teeth yourself without consulting a dentist if your teeth are healthy, but if you have dentures, fillings, capped teeth or teeth blackened by fillings or decay, ask your dentist what would be right for you.

Whitening toothpastes are the safest, as they gently whiten with mild abrasion and do not necessarily contain peroxide. They typically can leave your teeth one shade lighter with continued use. On the other end of the spectrum, dentist-applied light activated whitening can lighten teeth by up to 8 shades.

Whitening gels and strips use peroxide in lower concentrations than if administered by your dentist. They can lighten teeth by several shades in a few days to two weeks, and the effects can last up to 4 months.

Tray bleaching at home is done typically for 1-2 hours per day, or overnight, for up to 4 weeks for maximum results. This method is much cheaper than having your dentist do the job.

Possible side effects of tooth whitening include cold or heat sensitivity, or gum irritation. If you use over-the-counter products at home and develop sensitivity in your mouth tissues, discontinue use and consult with your dentist. Your dentist can apply whitener and keep it from contacting your gums, plus he can control the amount and maximize contact with your teeth for optimal whitening and minimal irritation.

Whether you choose to whiten your teeth with your dentist's help or on your own, educating yourself will give you the best chances of achieving that dazzling white smile.

What in the World are Dental Veneers?

It seems everybody today wants whiter than white teeth. All the celebrities have them, and film stars seem to have had them forever. Most people rely on a quarterly painless cleaning by their dental hygienist and the rest of the time they use extra whitening toothpaste. Those who are really keen for the brightest teeth go for cosmetic dentistry. This is something that is particularly popular in places like Beverly Hills, and cosmetic dentistry is becoming big business.

Yet another way that people achieve extraordinarily white teeth is through the use of dental veneers. People with money to spare will often do this if their teeth are badly stained or discolored. Small strips made from either porcelain or plastic are made to cover your teeth and makes them look even whiter than God intended. These covers are known as dental veneers.

Top-notch cosmetic dentists are already on the bandwagon and if you search on the net you will find Beverly Hills veneers, Los Angeles veneers or Orange County cosmetic dentists. These dentists and dental technicians offer everything from the smallest strips to correct slight imperfections, to full porcelain caps for the whitest teeth ever.

Porcelain veneers are quite expensive and these are the kind most often found in celebrity dental clinics. They can cost thousands of dollars but your teeth will retain their whiteness for ten to fifteen years. It takes a number of appointments with a cosmetic dentist to have these fitted because they are molded to fit over your teeth.

The other type of veneers that you can get are called composite or direct veneers, but even these can cost several hundred dollars a tooth. Each veneer is applied separately and directly to the tooth so that this form of veneer can be done at one single appointment.

Getting veneers on your teeth can be a painful process as well as being expensive – however, if you want really white teeth and don’t have the time or the patience to keep up with it then they are an alternative worth considering. If you can afford them, veneers will cover discolored or badly stained teeth and the effects will last for years. A lot depends on how concerned you are about the whiteness of your teeth and how much money you have to spend.

At the moment veneers would be out of reach of most people’s budgets so it looks as though the sales of extra whitening toothpaste will not suffer too much.