Who doesn’t want pearly whites to brighten their smile? I know I do.

Stars like Julia Roberts, Emmy Rossum and Meg Ryan have captivated audiences for years, with their smiles that boast perfectly white teeth.

Teeth-Whitening-2Professional teeth whitening has been around for quite some time. It’s a procedure that involves dentists applying certain products to the teeth. Some of these are stronger than others but dentists have figured out how to ensure that the products only touch the teeth, thereby keeping the gums safe and unaffected.

There are many ways to whiten ones teeth. Your dentist can administer certain cleaners, there are other cleaners that dentists can give you to put on your teeth at home and there are over the counter options also.

Below is a short list of options if you are wondering what alternatives are available to you.

1. Whitening Gel

One option for teeth whitening is the application of a gel. Most gels use the active ingredient peroxide at varying percentages. Dentists can use concentrations of up to 35% whereas at home gels may have a lower concentration of peroxide. The gel effectively bleaches one’s teeth and changes their overall color, making them brighter and whiter.

In order for the gel to be safe and not damage the teeth, there are barriers contained in them to protect the tooth enamel. Gel’s are considered one of the most popular teeth whitening products and can brighten teeth up to about 10 shades in only one hour of application.

In office teeth whitening treatments cost around $650. If cost is an issue, you should consult your dentist to see if you can apply certain gels at home at a discounted rate.

2. Laser

Teeth-Whitening-3Laser teeth whitening is one of the more expensive options for obtaining a brighter smile. It is essentially the application of a bleaching gel to your teeth with the added assistance of heat generated by a laser, which is applied to the gel covered area. The heat applied, speeds up the bleaching process, creating stronger, longer lasting results. The heat is generally applied for an hour, so it is a quick procedure that can almost be done in a lunch break. Laser teeth whitening costs around $1,000.

3. Zoom Teeth Whitening

Zoom teeth whitening is a branded version of teeth whitening that combines the application of gel as well as an LEDlight. It is an in office treatment that uses the Zoom Advanced Power Chairside Lamp, which is said to accelerate the bleaching process. Zoom teeth whitening costs around $500; this includes the take-home trays to maximize results for patients.

4. Teeth Whitening Kits

Teeth whitening kits are an at home option that include upper and lower trays as well as the cleaning gel. Prices can vary from a $40 Walgreens kit to a $300 professional kit purchased from your dentist.

The trays do not always fit perfectly, and may cause irritation to your gums. If your gums start to hurt or your teeth become sensitive it is recommended to stop using the teeth whitening kit and contact your dentist immediately. The pain from sensitivity from whitening can be very uncomfortable and it’s best to avoid it if possible.

5. Over the Counter Products

Teeth-Whitening-4If the price of professionally whitening your teeth is not in your budget, over the counter methods are another option that may be worth trying. Whitening strips, paint-on teeth whitening gel, whitening toothpaste, whitening gum, and mouth trays with gel are all readily available teeth whitening products. Normally the concentration of the active ingredient is less with over the counter products. But this is a good thing, because if high concentrations of peroxide are used without doctor supervision, it could hurt or damage your teeth.

6. At-Home Teeth Whitening

At home teeth whitening remedies have been used for many years. The effectiveness varies, as these are primarily methods that have been passed down through the generations and are sometimes tried without any consultation with a dentist. One home remedy includes several
teaspoons of baking soda mixed with fresh lemon juice or water. The first step here is to dry your teeth with a paper towel then apply the paste using a toothbrush. It is typically left on the teeth for one minute and then rinsed off.

It is probably best to discuss these types of options with your dentist before trying them out. Your dentist may be able to tell you in advance, if they will work on your teeth based on your dental history.

Whitening and Pregnancy

Some reports have claimed that pregnant women should not whiten their teeth as it could negatively affect their child. Although there is no proven link between teeth whitening and negative effects on pregnant women, if you would like to err on the conservative side, it
would be best not to partake in any teeth whitening while pregnant.