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Have you ever wanted to get the low down on teeth whitening. What is fact, what is fiction and what is just plain hype?

What is the first thing that you often notice about someone. In many instances it is probably their smile. For this reason a smile says a lot about a person. No one wants a smile that they are embarrassed about or need to hide.

What if you already have a great smile but your teeth a yellowing from age or stained from things in our diet/lifestyle that discolour teeth such as tea, coffee, red wine and smoking. For some people they just want their smile to dazzle.

This is where teeth whitening comes in. Teeth whitening is best when the shape and the arrangement of the teeth is fine just the colour. Something to bear in mind is that teeth whitening only works on teeth. Fillings and crowns are not affected by the whitening process.

How does teeth whitening work? The active ingredient in most products is either Hydrogen Peroxide or Carbamide peroxide. Carbamide peroxide is inactive and has to be converted to Hydrogen peroxide for it to become active. This occurs when it comes into contact with the teeth and at a ratio of 1:3,  this means an 18% Carbamide Peroxide solution is equivalent to an 6% solution of Hydrogen Peroxide. This conversion may take 20-30 minutes in the mouth. For this reason Hydrogen Peroxide based agents work faster but they can for the same reason give an increase in sensitivity. Just about all in office whitening agents such as Zoom use Hydrogen Peroxide as the active ingredient. The active Hydrogen peroxide is able to penetrate a small way into the tooth enamel to lift away stains and discolouration.

How well a particular teeth whitening product works is really only a product to two things:- The concentration of the Hydrogen Peroxide and how long does it remain in contact with the teeth. Different products may tinker with either of these but ultimately they are the only factors that will determine how effective the whitening will be. So lets look at the various methods that are used to whiten teeth.

In Office Whitening

There are many different products on the market but at Duncraig Village Dental we use ZoomThis product is the gold standard and has been around for many years. In office whitening give the fastest and most predictable results because it addresses both factors that affect the whitening process. A strong solution of whitening gel is used, Zoom uses 25%  Hydrogen Peroxide. This agent is kept in contact with teeth for an hour. Due to the strong concentration of Hydrogen Peroxide the gums need to be protected from irritation. For this reason a strong concentration Peroxide is only suitable for in office bleaching.

Take Home Whitening Trays

This can be with Custom trays or some sort of stock tray. Custom trays are Dentist fabricated and keep the gel in contact with the teeth for a much longer period of time. Because of this a stronger concentration can be prescribed by a dentist. We use 18% Carbamide Peroxide. It works extremely well and give results equivalent to our in office Teeth Whitening system. The only drawback is that it takes up to two weeks for the whitening to reach the maximal effect.

Stock Trays and Over The Counter Products

These are usually bought from a Pharmacy, supermarket or online. Stock trays are much less effective at keeping the gel on the teeth. So a 30 minute whitening session may result in only a few minutes of contact with the teeth.   These products are not dentist prescribed so the gel concentration is quite low. Typical products have 6% Carbamide Peroxide (equivalent to 2% Hydrogen Peroxide). So you can see lower concentration and less time in contact with teeth means to get the same whitening effect will take much longer or will be impossible to achieve. Many non-dentist teeth whitening centres and beauty spas use these products also.

Whitening Toothpaste, Pens and Strips

Again these products suffer from the same shortcoming as other over counter products. Namely low concentration of active ingredients and a relatively short duration of contact with the teeth.

So there you have it. In office is the fastest and most effective followed by dentist prescribe custom tray. The others are all work to some degree but as you can imagine a year of whitening toothpaste probably still won’t be as effective as an office treatment or custom fitted trays.

To find out more about teeth Whitening services at Duncraig Village Dental click here.