Photo Credit: Britenz.com
A mega-watt smile seems to be high on everyone’s list. According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), teeth whitening procedures are the most requested service at cosmetic dentists offices today.
“A bright smile is often the first impression of someone and symbolizes beauty, health, youth, and success,” says Indiana-based dentist Jeffrey Stolarz, DDS. As we age, teeth start to discolor and turn shades of yellow and gray from food and beverages that cause staining such as coffee, tea, cola, red wine, berries, and tobacco. “Teeth naturally wear over time as well. The brighter, more translucent enamel may thin, revealing the darker, more opaque dentin layer of the tooth, thus resulting in darker teeth shades,” explains Stolarz.
One of the quickest ways to whiten teeth and a great option for those looking for immediate results is with an in-office light-activated treatment, such as Zoom whitening. This treatment takes about 45 minutes, usually done in 15-minute back-to-back intervals, and can whiten teeth up to eight shades lighter. A dentist applies a light-activated bleaching gel to teeth, while gums are protected and lips are retracted, and then LED blue light and heat work to activate the gel and penetrate teeth. “The hydrogen peroxide has a chemical reaction that releases oxygen radicals that will break up molecules that cause the intrinsic stain,” says NYC-based cosmetic dentist Brian Kantor, DDS
Other professional options such as Opalescence Boost, which is chemically activated and features a 38 percent hydrogen peroxide gel, works as soon as it is applied to teeth for results within an hour. “The reason why in-office whitening is the most effective is because the concentration of hydrogen peroxide is very high, and the bleach remains isolated on the teeth very well for an ample amount of time,” says Kantor.
The downsides of these procedures: tooth sensitivity and cost. Expect to pay $450 to $800 per treatment for Zoom; $250 to $500 for Opalescence Boost. “Bleaching is not permanent,” says Kantor. “Some people get great results and others do not whiten as well.”
Many dentists recommend a combination of in-office bleaching with customized trays for at-home use and maintenance. These thin plastic trays are similar to mouth guards, and are filled at home with bleaching gel (at a lower percentage than used in the dentist office) and worn for a certain amount of time. The time-frame for results varies from a few days to two weeks and cost $250 to $400.
Thanks to a stream of new innovations—from whitening pens to LED devices—there are a slew of over-the-counter teeth brightening options available without the hefty price tag. “An over-the-counter product may take several days to achieve the same results that an in-office product achieves in an hour or less,” says Stolarz.
Here are some good ones to try:
A good toothbrush is key for a gorgeous smile and the new Emmi-dent deep cleaning system (ARV $189), contains unique ultrasound technology through its brush bristles that wipe away plaque and stains in as little as three days.
Luster Premium White Distinctly White System (ARV $12.99) features a refreshing mouth rinse to prep teeth and a peroxide-based whitening gel to erase surface stains without any sensitivity.
Brush twice a day for 14 days with Go Smile Truly Whitening Toothpaste System (ARV $50), a two-tube system containing powerful whitening ingredients that goes beyond the enamel to lift stains and keep mouths feeling squeaky clean.
Get in-office results after just a few uses with the hands-free Pearl Brilliant White Ionic Teeth Whitening System (ARV $195), which uses ionic technology to break down tough stains without any irritation. Wear for five minutes, twice a day for five days.
Paula’s Choice Brighten Up 2-minute Teeth Whitener (ARV $14.95) is a portable balm-like stick infused with hydrogen peroxide to help lift coffee, red wine, and dark berry stains.
Toss Britenz (ARV $9) whitening pen in your bag for noticeably whiter teeth after just one use. It contains a gentle blend of hydrogen peroxide, xylitol, and coenzyme Q10 to brighten and keep teeth healthy.
Crest 3D White Professional Effects Whitestrips (ARV $54.99) gel adhesive strips work wonders lifting stubborn stains. Use once a day for 30 minutes over a week for teeth that sparkle.
Sweep moisturizing Vitality Lip Flush Butter Gloss Limited Edition LAB Sample (ARV $12.50) on lips to experience how its tiny blue crystals counteract yellow tones to make teeth appear whiter.