Discoloration or staining on the surfaces of the teeth is one of the most common issues addressed by cosmetic dentists. Many people choose a teeth whitening toothpaste to help reduce the appearance of stains. However, are these toothpastes really effective? In general, they can be helpful, but will not provide the dramatic results of in-office whitening. [pullquote]Many people choose a teeth whitening toothpaste to help reduce the appearance of stains. However, are these toothpastes really effective?[/pullquote]
Whitening toothpastes use mild whitening agents such as hydrogen peroxide and baking soda as well as mild abrasives to remove light staining from the surfaces of the teeth. If you use a whitening toothpaste twice a day, you’ll see some results within a couple of weeks. However, this kind of toothpaste only works on staining that is on the surface of the tooth only. This includes staining from:
- Beverages such as coffee and tea
- Food stains
Staining that is an intrinsic part of the structure of the tooth, such as staining from antibiotics or fluoride, or staining due to injury, will not respond to a whitening toothpaste.
If you have sensitive teeth, whitening toothpaste can increase sensitivity. Be sure to ask your dentist for a recommendation before using an over-the-counter tooth whitening product.
For the best results in teeth whitening, see your cosmetic dentist for an in-office whitening session. Compared to at-home whiteners, in-office treatments use much more powerful whitening agents, creating dramatic results in a single session. Your dentist is also better equipped to protect the surrounding oral tissues such as your gums and lips so you are less likely to experience sensitivity in these areas after a whitening session.
A typical in-office whitening treatment involves having the whitener applied to your teeth, then left in place for about twenty minutes. It is then removed and refreshed twice more. You are likely to see results right away, although the most dramatic results will be seen over the next several days. In-office whitening typically lightens your teeth five to ten shades in one treatment. For particularly stubborn staining, our experienced dentist can supply a take-home kit that will lighten your teeth gradually over a couple of weeks.