The Truth About Whitening: Hope, Hype and Intelligent Choices

Whiter, Brighter Promises in Oral Care

Youth, health and beauty - Who doesn't want sparkling, white teeth? Whitening processes evolved rapidly in recent years,and many patients - including some of my own - are confused, wondering which whitening procedure best suits their needs.

Questions I often hear include:

"Are all whitening methods safe?"
"Are there any long-term side-effects?"
"How white will my teeth actually get?"
"How long will my whitening results last?"

To help discern which method is best for you, below you'll find an explanation of each teeth whitening procedure on the market, and how they differ in price, application, and results.

First, it is important to understand that there are two types of teeth stains: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic stains originate within the tooth. As we age, teeth yellow naturally; enamel wares away, revealing dentin's tan, off-white color. Other intrinsic stains can be caused by medicines, like tetracycline or other antibiotics, or may be the result of Fluorosis (exposure to too much fluoride). Extrinsic stains are superficial stains caused by coffee, tea, tobacco, or red wine. Basically, anything that will stain a white shirt will stain your teeth.

Power Whitening: Whitening Treatment with Instant Results

Power tooth whitening is by far the most effective (and expensive) whitening procedure in dentistry. Dental health professionals (myself included) are using this FDA registered, light-activated whitening system.

Light-activated systems are the power whitening methods of choice. These are the only (patented) methods that can safely whiten teeth, up to seven shades. Power whitening not only whitens superficially stained teeth, but also intrinsic stains caused by root canals, iron deposits, and even certain stains caused by antibiotics like tetracycline. No other whitening treatment can whiten teeth up to seven shades in a single office visit.

Zoom and BriteSmile can achieve results up to 7 shades whiter within an hour. First, a paint-on dam is applied to isolate delicate gum tissue. A hydrogen-peroxide solution is then placed on the tooth surface, and is activated by a patented blue-spectrum light. Over a period of three 15-minute intervals, the light and solution work synergistically to lighten teeth. The combination of light and gel claim to lighten teeth up to 7 shades within one office visit.

After a power whitening treatment, your dentist will recommend you avoid tooth-staining foods like coffee, tea, red wine, etc. for a period of 72 hours. Introducing these foods during this critical period may negate your whitening results. Also, power-whitening results are not permanent. Without proper maintenance, over time the whitening results will begin to regress naturally due to the consumption of darkly colored foods, beverages or tobacco. This procedure may need to be repeated twice a year to maintain an optimal white smile.

I highly recommend using the Supersmile Professional Whitening Toothpaste to maintain your teeth after power whitening. The formula gently and non-abrasively removes superficial stains from teeth and prevents new stains from forming, which makes for longer lasting whitening results. In fact, Supersmile whitening toothpaste is the #1 whitening toothpaste recommended by top aesthetic dentists worldwide to maintain results after bleaching.

Professional Quality Home Whitening: A Cost-Effective, Intelligent Choice

If you want your teeth bleached beyond their natural shade of whiteness, the most cost-effective alternative available is the professional take-home bleaching kit.

After a full check up (which generally includes X-rays and a prophylaxis oral hygiene cleaning), a dental health professional takes impressions and creates custom-fitted bleaching trays (mouthpieces). Unlike over-the-counter mouthpieces, professional take-home procedures require the dental technician to trim off the excess tray material so that the tray fits comfortably and protects your gums and soft tissue.

At the dental office, your typical "take-home" kit includes a custom-fitted tray, instructions and four to ten syringes filled with bleaching gel. The number of syringes you require depends on the strength level of the whitening gel that's prescribed for your particular condition.

Most treatment plans require wearing the mouthpiece once or twice a day, one to two hours each time for 14 days. Patients should have professional cleanings prior to getting their teeth bleached.

The important point is that this procedure is done under dental supervision; unlike whitening kits that you buy in stores, professionally supervised take-home kits have the added benefit of safety. Whitening progress and gum health are constantly monitored by the dentist.

Whitening Systems, Strips, and Paint-Ons: Quick, Easy and Effective?

When you want your teeth whitened, but do not have the time for lengthy dental procedures or messy trays that need to be left in the mouth overnight, Supersmile's Professional Whitening System is quick, easy, and effective.

For the active lifestyle, I have developed the Supersmile Professional Accelerator to whiten teeth by simply brushing. No messy trays or mouthpieces are required. I wanted to create a system that not only provided gentle and effective whitening, but total oral health care as well .

The Supersmile Professional Whitening System combines equal parts Supersmile Whitening Toothpaste and Whitening Accelerator. Calprox® (the proprietary ingredient in the toothpaste) and carbamide peroxide work together to dramatically whiten teeth.

Calprox® is a safe teeth-whitening constituent that is a patented encapsulated form of calcium peroxide, which is exclusive to Supersmile. It works by gently dissolving the protein pellicle-where stains, bacteria and plaque adhere. Calprox® whitens natural teeth and is safe to use on dental bonding, veneers, dentures and caps (crowns), restoring them to their original whiteness.Because the whitening method requires brushing of the teeth, the chance of sensitivity is drastically reduced and is impossible to over-bleach.

The Supersmile Professional Whitening System is proven to enhance bonding, veneers, laminates, and any other dental restoration and bring them back to their original whiteness; no other whitening system offers this. The process is continuous, so the more you use the system the more it will continue to whiten. Another bonus is there is no regression. Because the whitening system dissolves the protein pellicle, it will maintain the whitening results already achieved while preventing new stains from forming. It is also a great maintenance system for power-bleached teeth.

Whitening Strips

Whitening strips (like Crest's Whitestrips) are one of the most popular alternative bleaching methods. This alternative uses hydrogen-peroxide-coated polyethylene filmstrips. The strips are applied to upper and lower teeth twice a day for 30 minutes per application, for two weeks straight. The strips provide a consistent application of the whitening agent, and dentists have found that the strips have produced noticeably whiter results.

Despite the ease of use, there are several drawbacks to this method. Whitening strips are precut in a uniform shape. They fit best on the front upper teeth, and it is not easy to use strips on back teeth. If your teeth are larger than the strip, whitening results may be uneven. Lower teeth can also be difficult to whiten with this method because saliva can loosen the adhesiveness of the strip.

Brush On Applications

Colgate Simply White, Crest Night Effects, and GoSmile are all examples of brush-on teeth whitening products. A hydrogen-peroxide solution is brushed on teeth with an applicator.

This whitening method allows all teeth to be coated with the solution and can be customized if certain individual teeth require extra attention. This is a good option for those who find mouthpieces or strips uncomfortable; however, brush-on whitening products need about 30 minutes without food or drink to be effective, and saliva itself may wash off the solution.

Why Toothpastes Are Your Safest Whitening Option

Over the years, it's natural for your teeth to accumulate extrinsic stains from coffee, tea, tobacco, red wine, soy sauce, berries and other stain-causing foods, as well as plaque. These tooth-darkening culprits don't directly attach to your tooth enamel, but rather to a clear, sticky film called the protein pellicle.

Once you remove this pellicle from your tooth surface, these superficial stains disappear. Of all the whitening toothpastes available on the market today ( Colgate Platinum, Crest, Mentadent, Arm & Hammer, Rembrandt), only Supersmile toothpaste has been clinically proven to non-abrasively dissolve the protein pellicle to which stains and plaque adhere.

Many of these toothpastes contain silica, which are fine particles that not only scratch away the protein pellicle, but also damage your tooth enamel. The net result is the gradual erosion and dulling of your tooth surface. Over your lifetime, the damage can be irreparable. Supersmile is used by top aesthetic dental practices not only to promote white teeth and fresh breath, but hygienists also use it regularly as a finishing polish after dental cleanings.

I developed Supersmile almost two decades ago to whiten the teeth of my early patients with bondings. What I soon discovered was that it worked equally well on natural teeth, veneers, laminates, crowns, braces, and even dentures!

Removing the protein pellicle on a daily basis will prevent new stains from reattaching on to teeth. This keeps any tooth surface or restoration at its original whiteness. Supersmile is a breakthrough, an advanced formula containing calcium peroxide (Calprox®) to whiten without abrasion. It is 75% below the ADA abrasion standard. Baking soda is added for fresher breath and healthier gums, as well as ADA-recommended fluoride to fight cavities.

The Final Word About Whitening

So there it is: your choices for intelligent tooth whitening.

Many people have tried all types of teeth whitening methods. People whiten their teeth for different reasons. Some want to look younger, others want a quick boost of self-confidence. Still others do it for a special event like a wedding or job interview. Whatever the reason, whitening your teeth can take years off your appearance. It is important to realize that tooth bleaching is not a permanent solution. As mentioned, anything that will stain a white shirt will stain your teeth.

Over time, typical eating and drinking will continue to stain teeth unless you are using a specially formulated whitening toothpaste or whitening system like Supersmile that will non-abrasively remove surface stains from the teeth and maintain the whitening results from other procedures.

A beautiful, forthright smile says more about a person than any other personal attribute.