How can I whiten my teeth?

There are a variety of options available for teeth whitening on the market today. When exploring these options it's wise to know the difference between "teeth whitening" and "teeth bleaching" and familiarize yourself with cosmetic dentistry and its terminology. With so many companies offering their magical teeth whitening treatments, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. To counteract the influx of these potentially bogus programs, several websites have recently popped up with accurate and easy to digest information regarding your teeth.

Whitening one's teeth is the process of restoring teeth to their natural color. This is done by removing the build-up and dirt collected on the tooth's surface. You can achieve these results with toothpastes that boast a whitening agent. Having your teeth cleaned regularly is an excellent way to keep your teeth free of debris.

Bleaching one's teeth actually whitens teeth beyond their natural state to produce its desired result. The use of a bleach-containing agent will draw out the stain and color leaving them clean and whiter than before. There are two types of bleach used in this process. Hydrogen peroxide is used by your dentist in a controlled environment and contains a high level of peroxide. Take-home kits use carbamide peroxide which has a lower percentage of peroxide and is therefore safer to use on your own.

The term "whitening" is more often used in place of "bleaching" so as to appeal to the consumer.

Consulting your dentist is a safe and efficient way to gain knowledge about bleaching your teeth. In-office work can be expensive (roughly $600) so be sure to explore other legitimate choices if money is an issue. You may find that a take-home bleaching package is sufficient (ranging from $20-$400 each) and there are several to choose from.

Over-The-Counter teeth bleaching products can be purchased at your local drugstore for the most affordable prices. A good choice would be one that uses a tray (as a dentist would) that covers the teeth and holds the peroxide-based gel in place over your teeth. Other options include strips and "paintable" teeth whitening gel. Many toothpaste brands incorporate peroxide as a way to bleach teeth while brushing.

Professional take-home teeth bleaching kits are slightly more expensive but are dentist-approved and therefore more reliable. They utilize the tray process and are custom fitted for your teeth. This makes them more effective than over-the-counter brands. Custom molded trays may take several weeks to receive so plan accordingly.

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