A whiter smile is a younger-looking smile. Products labeled as whitening or bleaching lead to confusion. Is there a difference? Which is whiter? Which is better for your teeth? Are they safe?
What are the Differences?
The words whitening and bleaching are used interchangeably even by the American Dental Association. Dentists and product descriptions are more particular in how the terms are used. Teeth whitening is usually the act of removing surface stains to restore teeth to their natural shade. Tooth bleaching goes further with the use of chemical agents to lighten the color of the natural tooth enamel. Teeth bleaching products are likely to contain hydrogen peroxide as the active agent. Regardless of whitening or bleaching, the aim is to whiten the teeth.
Whitening and Bleaching Products
Tobacco, foods and beverages stain teeth and there are products that can be purchased over the counter to whiten teeth. These products are relatively inexpensive and safe if used according to the directions. The effectiveness depends on the severity of the stains.
Some products such as teeth whitening strips and some toothpastes do have small amounts of hydrogen peroxide as a bleaching agent. However, these products do not have the larger amounts of whitening or bleaching power of those products administered by your dentist.
Dentists can whiten teeth with chemical and laser treatments and products that contain greater strengths of bleaching power. These treatments are more likely to be called “bleaching”.
Dental products are usually administered in a series of office visits or can be prescribed home treatments. Because these products contain higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, they are more effective at whitening the teeth.
Over-the-counter whitening and bleaching rinses and toothpastes are usually the safest and can be used by most people. More aggressive products can be troublesome for some individuals.
As with any product, it is wise to be aware of the possible side effects and health concerns. It is important to follow directions and use them correctly. Tooth sensitivity and gum irritations are likely problems. However, discomfort usually doesn’t last long.
If there are existing cavities or eroded tooth enamel prior to use, these products can have more damaging effects. Whitening agents penetrate the teeth and cause extreme pain and even root damage. It is wise to check with your dentist before using any products.
Choosing the Right Professional
There is a recent trend of teeth bleaching being offered in non-dental settings. Salons, spas, mall kiosks and cruise ships are now offering teeth whitening/ bleaching just like other non-surgical cosmetic treatments. It is safest to use a licensed dental professional. Call Restore Dental now for an appointment with a licensed professional for whitening or bleaching your teeth.
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