If you find yourself looking at your teeth and thinking, "My smile isn't as bright as it used to be," you aren't the only one. Teeth discoloration is a normal process in life. But, luckily, there are things you can do to get whiter teeth.
Here, you'll learn the difference between professional teeth whitening and at-home whitening kits. Discover convenient, effective and cost-effective ways to whiten your teeth using the best option for you!
Why Do Your Teeth Change Color?
Your teeth can discolor for many reasons, including:
Foods and drinks: Dark-colored foods and drinks — like coffee, tea and red wine — are major culprits for teeth discoloration. If you regularly consume these beverages and foods, you might notice they stain your teeth over time.
Tobacco: Tobacco contains tar and nicotine. Tar is a dark, sticky substance, and nicotine turns a yellow color when mixed with oxygen. Both can discolor your teeth.
Age: Over time, your enamel thins out, causing the yellow-colored dentin layer to show through.
Trauma: When you injure your tooth, your tooth defends itself by producing more of the dentin layer, causing your tooth to appear more yellow.
Medications: Certain medications, especially when taken at a young age, inhibit enamel growth and can cause discoloration.
Luckily, there are methods to reversing teeth staining, like teeth whitening. Teeth whitening won't work on all teeth, however. Yellowed teeth tend to bleach well, but brown or gray-toned teeth may not be equally receptive to treatment. Also, teeth whitening won't treat caps, veneers, crowns or fillings — you'll want to consult your dentist about your teeth whitening options if you have these appliances or treatments.
How Does Teeth Whitening Work?
Your tooth's enamel and dentin layers are porous. Most whitening products use hydrogen peroxide, which absorbs into your tooth's pores. This interaction causes oxidation, resulting in the breakdown of discolored molecules. As a result, stains dissipate and your teeth look whiter.
How to Remove Deep Stains From Teeth
There are two methods you can use to remove teeth stains:
At-Home Whitening Kits
At-home whitening products from EverSmile and at-home kits are effective at teeth whitening after several uses. At-home whitening kits contain 3% to 20% hydrogen peroxide, compared to professional teeth whitening, which contains 15% to 43%.
Kit and product instructions vary depending on the method you choose, but most are fairly simple and easy to understand.
Professional Teeth Whitening
You could visit your dentist and professionally whiten your teeth. Professional teeth whitening is the fastest way to get results, as their whitening products are much stronger than at-home whitening kits.
Professional teeth whitening doesn't involve any needles or special tools. Instead, your dentist will apply a protective gel around your gums and a mouth guard to protect the sensitive tissue surrounding your teeth. Dentists may use heat or light during treatment, which speeds up the chemical reaction and makes results more intense.
Is Teeth Whitening Painful?
The teeth whitening process itself is painless whether you use professional or at-home options. But a possible side effect to teeth whitening is sensitivity post-whitening. Tooth sensitivity occurs when the hydrogen peroxide absorbs past the tooth's enamel and dentin layers, reaching and irritating the tooth's core nerve. Tooth sensitivity is short-term, however. Wait a few days until continuing treatment if you experience tooth sensitivity or speak to your dentist about your concerns.
Types of Professional Teeth Whitening
When it comes to professional teeth whitening, you have a couple of options:
1. Take-Home Kits
Dentists can provide you with a take-home kit, where you can receive professional teeth whitening results from home. They're more expensive than at-home whitening kits, and they provide more intense results because of the higher percentage of hydrogen peroxide.
In your take-home kit, you'll receive a custom-fitted dental tray and a whitening solution. Before applying the dental tray and whitening solution, you'll want to brush and floss your teeth to remove any plaque, which can affect the solution's absorption. Then, you'll apply the whitening solution to the custom-fitted dental tray and place it in your mouth. Results occur in as little as 30 minutes.
2. In-Office Whitening
Another common form of professional teeth whitening is in-office whitening. During your appointment, your dentist will clean and polish your teeth to thoroughly remove any plaque. Then, they isolate sensitive areas of your mouth, like your gums and mouth tissue, for protection.
Once they've prepped you, your dentist will apply the teeth whitening solution. An LED light produces a colored light to activate and speed up the whitening process. The solution will sit on your teeth anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the strength of the hydrogen peroxide.
To finish the appointment, your doctor will apply fluoride to reduce any tooth sensitivity.
How Much Does a Professional Teeth Whitening Cost?
Professional teeth whitening costs anywhere from a few hundred dollars to above a thousand dollars per visit. In-office whitening usually requires more than one appointment, so costs can reach upwards of thousands of dollars.
Types of At-Home Whitening
You have more options when it comes to at-home teeth whitening, including:
1. Whitening Toothpaste
Whitening toothpaste is a reliable addition to your daily oral health routine. Whitening toothpaste includes a formula with:
- Abrasives that polish your teeth
- Hydrogen peroxide that dissolves stains
The abrasives and hydrogen peroxide lighten stains on the enamel layer. Some whitening toothpaste also includes blue covarine, which temporarily makes teeth appear less yellow.
When brushing regularly, you can notice a whiter smile within two to six weeks. It's recommended to use a whitening toothpaste daily in tandem with other whitening methods, like at-home whitening strips.
Look for a whitening toothpaste with a seal of approval, preferably from the American Dental Association (ADA). A seal of approval from a reliable dental organization can ensure the toothpaste you're using is safe and effective.
2. Over-The-Counter Teeth Whitening Kits
You'll typically find over-the-counter whitening strips at convenience and grocery stores in strip or gel forms. Directions vary but are fairly straightforward. Most involve placing a whitening strip — a thin strip coated with a hydrogen peroxide-base gel — or gel directly onto your teeth, largely avoiding the gumline.
Wait approximately 30 minutes before removing the whitening strip or rinsing the gel, depending on the strength of the hydrogen peroxide and product instructions.
When you use over-the-counter teeth whitening kits regularly, you'll typically notice results in a few days. The results can last you around four months. You can continue applying over-the-counter whitening kits to maintain your whiter smile.
3. Lifestyle Changes
Some lifestyle habits can cause teeth discoloration. If you're interested in a whiter smile, consider making certain lifestyle changes, like:
- Limiting coffee and tea consumption
- Limiting alcohol, like red wine, consumption
- Avoiding using tobacco products
- Becoming aware of the possible side effects of your medications
Other lifestyle habits, like daily flossing and brushing, prevent further staining. You may consider adding a whitening rinse to your daily oral health routine, too.
Whitening rinses are fairly similar to common mouthwashes. They freshen your breath, reduce plaque buildup and prevent gum diseases like gingivitis. Whitening rinses also include hydrogen peroxide in their formulas. When used twice a day for 60 seconds, whitening rinses can boost the effects of other simultaneous whitening methods, like whitening strips or toothpaste. If you experience tooth sensitivity, you may want to cut down to one at-home stain removal method.
How Much Do At-Home Teeth Whitening Kits Cost?
At-home teeth whitening kits are much less expensive than professional teeth whitening appointments. On average, at-home teeth whitening kits cost under a hundred dollars. Most kits come with multiple days of treatments, unlike professional teeth whitening.
Is It Better to Whiten Your Teeth at the Dentist or at Home?
Both at-home teeth whitening kits and professional teeth whitening have their pros and cons. Consider these before making the best decision for you:
Pros of Professional Teeth Whitening
The pros of professional teeth whitening are:
Faster results: Professional teeth whitening contains higher levels of hydrogen peroxide. Because of these higher levels, as well as the addition of LED lights or heat, dentists can create faster results than at-home teeth whitening alternatives.
Professional control: You don't have to worry about making any missteps when you visit the dentist. Dentists commonly perform teeth whitening procedures, so you can trust them to take care of your smile.
Cons of Professional Teeth Whitening
The cons of professional teeth whitening are:
Higher costs: Perhaps the biggest downside to professional teeth whitening is its cost. You can expect to pay thousands of dollars for a noticeably whiter smile across multiple appointments.
Multiple appointments: Some people don't enjoy frequenting the dentist. To offer the best results, professional teeth whitening usually requires more than one dental appointment.
Larger chance of tooth sensitivity: Because dentists use a higher percentage of hydrogen peroxide, you risk experiencing higher tooth sensitivity than with at-home teeth whitening kits. But dentists do apply a fluoride treatment to lessen this risk.
Pros of At-Home Teeth Whitening Kits
The pros of at-home teeth whitening kits are:
Lower costs: At-home teeth whitening kits are far less expensive than professional teeth whitening, costing less than a hundred dollars.
More options: You have more options when it comes to at-home teeth whitening. Some include strips, gels, toothpaste and rinses.
Less chance of tooth sensitivity: At-home teeth whitening kits have a lower percentage of hydrogen peroxide, so they have a lower chance of causing tooth sensitivity.
Cons of At-Home Teeth Whitening Kits
The cons of at-home teeth whitening kits are:
Slower results: Because at-home whitening kits have a lower percentage of hydrogen peroxide, there are fewer whitening capabilities per application.
Multiple applications: You'll need multiple whitening applications before seeing results. Luckily, most over-the-counter whitening kits come equipped with more than one application.
FAQs About Teeth Whitening
Some other questions you might have include:
Is Professional Teeth Whitening Worth It?
If you value professional care that guarantees fast, more-noticeable results, then professional teeth whitening may be worth it for you. But, if you don't have much room in your budget for faster results, you may benefit from using at-home whitening treatments.
What's the Most Effective Teeth Whitening Kit?
The most effective teeth whitening kit has a higher percentage of hydrogen peroxide. Usually, the higher the hydrogen peroxide, the shorter amount of time you leave the treatment on. Check the box's ingredients and instructions to decide which at-home whitening kit is the best for your goals.
Do At-Home Teeth Whitening Kits Really Work?
Most at-home teeth whitening kits do really work. Almost any amount of hydrogen peroxide works at whitening teeth. Keep in mind, you may not notice results after your first use. Because at-home teeth whitening kits usually contain a lower percentage of hydrogen peroxide, they require more than one treatment before seeing noticeable results.
How to Get Whiter Teeth With EverSmile
EverSmile started as a solution for keeping aligners clean and fresh. Dr. Michael Florman created a special formula that keeps people's smiles fresh, healthy — and bright! The formula includes an advanced anionic hydrogen peroxide technology, which cleans aligners and keeps smiles white.
EverSmile offers more than just aligner cleaners. Some products we offer for teeth whitening with certain dental appliances include:
WhiteFoam is an aligner and retainer cleaner that doubles as an at-home teeth whitener. Aligners and retainers get dirty easily, causing a buildup of bacteria which yellows your teeth. WhiteFoam kills 99.999% of bacteria and uses hydrogen peroxide to gradually whiten your teeth. Over time, you'll benefit from a clean, whiter smile — with zero teeth sensitivity! If your aligner treatment includes attachments, these can stain quickly and are hard to lighten once stained. WhiteFoam keeps these attachment points bright and white as well!
A mobile partner to WhiteFoam is EverSmile's AlignerFresh. AlignerFresh is a spray-on cleaner that kills 99.999% of bacteria in just one minute. And, as the formula kills bacteria, hydrogen peroxide works to remove any enamel stains from your teeth. This travel-sized cleaner can fit in your pocket, purse or backpack, and can be used up to six times a day.
Braces are great orthodontic tools that straighten your teeth. Although effective, braces can be hard to clean. Food and plaque can build up around your bands and wires, and brushing or flossing may not always remove the buildup. If not removed, this funk can lead to teeth discoloration.
OrthoFoam makes cleaning easier. It cleans and whitens your smile under your brackets, too, so you don't have to worry about noticeable color differences once your braces are off.
Contact EverSmile Today
Are you interested in having a whiter smile? When looking for options on how to whiten your teeth with hydrogen peroxide-based formulas, consider using EverSmile's whitening products. Find our products at a store near you, or, if you have any questions, contact us online.