Craving a brighter smile? Well, you’re not alone! Each year, almost 90 percent of Americans seek out teeth whitening treatments. While there are many whitening options available, some are safer and more effective than others. Here are some things you should consider before picking up that box of supermarket bleach.

How did we get here?

Teeth whitening is a phenomenon as old as civilization itself. In fact, the Ancient Egyptians used a wine-and-pumice paste to keep their teeth in tip-top shape! Fortunately, modern methods of attaining a dazzling smile–from lasers to bleach–are easier and more effective.

Is it safe to whiten your teeth?

The short answer is…it depends. While whitening is generally safe and efficient, there are a whole host of factors to consider (such as your genetics and your dental history) prior to starting whitening treatment. For these reasons, it’s recommended you consult with your dentist to find the best treatment for you.

How does teeth whitening work?

Your teeth color with age, discoloring with everyday life. Certain lifestyle factors–like drinking coffee and smoking–can speed up this discoloration process. Throughout the years, the dentin (or inner layer of your teeth) yellows and becomes more visible due to a thinning of the outer layer of your teeth (the enamel). The enamel can also discolor, a process which is usually referred to as surface staining.

When choosing a whitening treatment, you should consider that different types of whitening treatments work on different tooth layers. Abrasive treatments like whitening toothpastes, while the most readily available, are the least effective at brightening. Abrasives target surface stains, lightening your teeth by approximately one shade out of a 16-point scale for tooth shading. Since surface stains accumulate throughout your daily life, whitening toothpastes are only effective in the short term (or for as long as you continue using them!)

For a longer-lasting treatment, you’ll need to target the inner, dentin layer of the teeth. Treatments like bleach penetrate the outer enamel to bleach the dentin layer. Professional bleaching treatments are especially effective as they use a much higher concentration of the bleaching agent, hydrogen peroxide. While over-the-counter methods use 5-15 percent hydrogen peroxide, your dentist can use anywhere from 25-40 percent. Professional treatments can lighten teeth by as much as eight shades, and results last much longer than at-home treatments (think: brighter teeth for up to three years!)

What are the Benefits of Teeth Whitening

Why get your teeth whitened by a professional? Aside from the confidence boost from your brighter smile, professional whitening is faster and more reliable than over-the-counter methods. In-office whitening treatments take about an hour, leaving you with dramatically brighter teeth in no time. At IKON Dental Group, we tailor our treatments to your needs. We strive to give you the precise amount of whiteness you’re looking for in a comfortable, safe environment.

Want to learn more? Schedule your consult today with Dr. Khan today!