Teeth-Whitening Buying Guide

Teeth-Whitening Buying Guide
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A clean mouth contributes to overall wellness, while having white, bright teeth can help you project a healthy image. Along with regular brushing and flossing, a teeth-whitening product can make your smile shine. Read on for tips to finding the best one for you, and keep the following points in mind as you consider your options:

  • If you have a toothache or your gums are sore, red, swollen, or bleed after brushing and flossing, consult your dentist. These symptoms can signal serious health problems that require medical care.
  • Teeth-whitening products cannot take the place of regular brushing and flossing.
  • Never swallow mouth rinses, toothpaste, or any tooth-whitening product.
  • Some tooth-whitening products contain alcohol or a form of alcohol such as sorbitol or xylitol. These substances can be drying, so avoid them if dry mouth is an issue for you.
  • Sorbitol and xylitol are toxic to dogs; even small amounts can be life threatening. If your four-legged friend gets into your dental care products, take him to the veterinarian immediately.
  • Some teeth -whitening products increase tooth sensitivity.
  • Whitening Toothpaste, Brushes, & Mouth Rinses

    What they are: Teeth-whitening toothpaste, brushes, and mouth rinses are designed to remove stains and lighten and brighten teeth. Common ingredients include carbamide hydroxide and hydrogen peroxide. Whitening brushes may come in packs and each brush may be designed for single use.

    Why to buy: These products can effectively remove surface stains from teeth and are relatively inexpensive. They are quick and easy to use.

    Things to consider: Some tooth-whitening products can increase tooth sensitivity. If this is a problem for you, try a combination product that both whitens and lessens sensitivity, or alternate a tooth whitening product with a product for people with sensitive teeth.

  • Whitening Strips, Pens, Syringes, & Specialty Kits

    What they are: These products typically contain the same whitening ingredients as toothpastes, brushes, and mouth rinses, but may have them in higher concentrations. They also may contain additional ingredients to increase the penetration of whitening substances into the teeth, which can remove tougher stains.

    Strips are applied daily and left on the teeth for a period of time, while pens and syringes are used to “paint” the whitening product onto the teeth. Specialty kits may contain several options to get whitening ingredients onto teeth or may target a particular problem, such as tobacco stains.

    Why to buy: These products tend to be more effective than toothpastes and mouth rinses, they work quickly, and may result in a whiter, brighter end result.

    Things to consider: Whitening strips, pens, syringes, and kits cost more than toothpastes and mouth rinses and they may cause more problems with sensitivity because they are left on the teeth longer.

  • In-Office Whitening Procedures

    What they are: Your dentist can do in-office teeth lightening procedures that work faster and give more dramatic whitening than over-the-counter products. Your dentist may use trays that are specially molded to fit your teeth. A lightening solution is applied to the teeth with the tray and left on for a period of time. You’ll be sent home with the trays and additional lightening solution to continue the process.

    Why to try: In-office teeth whitening procedures are more effective than over-the-counter products and they work very quickly.

    Things to consider: In-office procedures tend to be expensive, often costing hundreds of dollars, and they are usually not covered by insurance. As with over-the-counter products, in-office procedures can contribute to sensitive teeth. Your dentist may be able to lessen post-whitening sensitivity with special products applied in-office or to be used at home.