With each new televised Hollywood Smile Makeover episode or the appearance of a supermodel in a magazine advertising sizzling new lipsticks, the popularity of esthetic dentistry has been rising as people become more concerned about the appearance of their smile. So it should come as no surprise to learn that the most sought-after dental treatments in modern history, are requests for Implants, Veneers, and Tooth Whitening.
There are several key factors that contribute to a beautiful smile, but many would agree that tooth color is one of the most important. In today’s selfie-obsessed world we will find so many people who are not happy with their smile and the option that is the quickest, easiest and most affordable, is for patients to consider tooth whitening as this gives an instant and pleasing result.
There are a number of methods available to improve the color of your teeth:
To know which whitening system is the most suitable for your teeth, you need to know what type of stain you are trying to remove.
When the tooth is only stained on the outside (the enamel layer), it is considered an extrinsic discoloration. These stains are typically yellow or brown in color, and they affect mostly the surface of the teeth (enamel). Extrinsic tooth discoloration is caused by exposure to certain foods (blueberries, curry, soy sauce) and drinks (green tea, coffee, red wine), as well as tobacco products (shisha, cigarettes, vaping, and cigars).
Intrinsic stains are less common, and more difficult to treat because they affect the inner structure of the teeth (dentine). This can develop after a tooth trauma or from taking certain medications, such as tetracycline antibiotics, antihistamines, antidepressants, and high blood pressure drugs that can discolor teeth. The natural aging process can also contribute to intrinsic staining. As we get older, our tooth enamel wears thin and reveals more of the inner dentin of the tooth, which happens to be more yellow than white.
We always advise you to discuss with your dentist or hygienist the different whitening methods before trying one as they are familiar with your dental condition and history and will recommend the best treatment plan to address your needs. As patients are not always aware that some of these products can have several side effects, I will discuss and focus on the first two methods listed, namely the Professional Home Whitening custom-made kits VERSUS the OTC Whitening strips.
Over-the-counter teeth whitening strips are affordable and easy to use and are readily available without a prescription. But personally, I feel the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages. Here are the reasons why I would reconsider buying OTC products:
When you get a home whitening kit manufactured by your dentist or hygienist, you can be assured that the custom trays will fit your teeth like a glove. This means that you get even coverage across all your teeth and there’s less chance of any product spilling/leaking onto your soft tissue, causing damage to your surrounding tissues.
Professional teeth whitening performed in the dental clinic is by far the best way of getting your stained or discolored teeth whitened. However, people perceive the procedure to be time-consuming and expensive which is why custom-made trays and OTC whitening products are so popular.
Considering all the points noted above regarding OTC whitening strips, I would recommend patients stick to dentist-approved and recommended methods of whitening their teeth.