Teeth whitening has become a common activity for many who seek to improve their appearance, just a gentle effort might be all that's needed or for the heavy smoker, some more radical approaches. The chemistry behind teeth whitening has come a long way in recent years and there are now over 100 teeth whitening products to choose from. Reviewing them all is not possible here but let's have a look at the most popular and cost-effective methods and some of the products available:
These tend to provide the least amount of whitening activity as they are intended for long-term daily use and would suit those who just need a general "whitening upkeep" to maintain that winning smile. Abrasive toothpastes that profess to whiten teeth are not recommended by dentists at all as they damage enamel and increase the likelihood of staining in the future. Chemical based toothpaste whiteners do not have this effect but are not very effective short-term. The problem is that the chemicals are only in contact with the teeth for at most 2 minutes and this is not long enough to have an effect on the very dense enamel of the tooth. This means that only surface staining is addressed by toothpastes. The most popular brands are Colgate and Crest Whitening Toothpastes but a widely acclaimed outsider said to be effective at stain removal is toothpaste called SuperSmile.
These contain one of two chemical whiteners and are "brush-on" solutions to teeth whitening. The basis is that a paste is brushed onto the teeth, the paste then dries and remains overnight after which it is brushed off in the morning. During the night, chemicals in the paste whiten the teeth – quite a lot too!
The advantage of this method of teeth whitening is that is provides fairly quick results. Unfortunately there are caveats to the use of brush-on whiteners; if a section get knocked off or abraded by other teeth while you sleep, the missing patch will have the old stain still apparent. Nobody wants a smile that replicates the pattern on a Holstein cow so it pays to be very careful with these products.
This is most likely the preferred method of all. The whitening strip is a 2 "by 0.25" long strip of gelatin impregnated with whitening chemicals. The application process involves placing a strip on each of the upper and lower front teeth. The gelatin helps the strip adhere to the teeth and warmth from the mouth further assists in ensuring the strip stays put. The strips are left in the mouth for between 15 and 30 minutes to perform their magic and then can be discarded and teeth brushed. Simple and effective, a treatment plan may last a couple of weeks, after which whitening toothpaste can maintain that white smile. The only disadvantage obvious with the strips is the 15-30 minutes spent not being able to speak easily! All the major toothpaste manufacturers carry a good line in whitening strips – there's not much to choose between them.
Also available are whitening pens, teeth trays that can be worn that carry whitening chemicals and pre-brushing mouthwashes, the market is now huge! A visit to a dental practitioner can offer access to lasers and other whitening methods unavailable over the counter, but will be undoubtedly more expensive.