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It’s perfectly normal for our teeth to lose their pearly white color over the years. No matter if you’re an avid coffee drinker or a red wine lover, there are so many other aspects that can cause your teeth to discolor even with proper dental care. You’ve probably seen the classic advertisements for teeth whitening products that you can purchase at drug stores that claim to have the same results as professional teeth whitening that you can get from your dentist. But how do you know which ones really work and which ones are worth your money? Well, that’s what we’re here to debate. In this blog post, we will be discussing the truth about teeth whiteners so that you can make a more informed decision when trying to decide which route you want to go. Keep reading to learn more! 


To start off, it’s important to understand how much of losing that white aspect to your smile is unavoidable and natural. Universally, your teeth darken with age; its just a part of life. Think about how much your teeth do for you. From chewing to drinking to talking, your teeth are something that you utilize every day. Now it’s easy to understand why some normal wear and completely unavoidable. However, there are other aspects specific to your lifestyle that may be causing your teeth to stain more than others. If you’re an avid coffee or red wine drinker, consuming these beverages frequently can have an impact on the whiteness of your teeth but they won’t cause staining that is incredibly drastic. If you’re someone who smokes cigarettes, the chemicals and tar from that cigarette will also cause staining to your teeth that tends to be extremely noticeable.  


There are two types of discoloration that can take place. The first being intrinsic, which means that it has developed over time and is from natural aging. The second is called extrinsic, which is discoloration that comes from specific deposits on the teeth that are caused by lifestyle habits like smoking, medication, or genetic traits that can be inherited by the mother through DNA or in-utero. 


So, whatever the cause of staining is from, if you’re looking at over-the-counter products how do you know which ones work? 

If you’re someone who takes proper care of their teeth by practicing good oral care habits (brushing and flossing twice a day), incorporating an over-the-counter whitening product tends to be more successful than for someone who doesn’t take care of their teeth. If you’re not taking proper care of your teeth, even high levels of bleach and other whitening products will not work effectively. 


Many whitening products are ones that we use daily, such as whitening toothpastes and mouthwashes. Since these products contain such small levels of whitening products that are being used in small doses the results that you are going to see, if any, are going to take far longer to be visible than if you were to get professional whitening treatments from your dentist.  


Whitening products, such as whitening lights that have been commonly advertised on social media platforms like Instagram, are also low levels of whitening lights that are commonly used in dental offices. These lights have a technology that can help speed up the process of teeth whitening but due to their low levels, they tend to be less impactful than the lights used in professional settings. 


Crest Whitestrips tend to be the most effective whitening products on the market. They are the most expensive and can range from $30-$70, depending on the strength of the strip that you’re getting. They also tend to cause tooth sensitivity due to their potent level of whitening. 


So I’ve decided to get professional whitening done at my dentist’s office — now what?

If you’ve decided to go the professional route, it’s important to note that most, if not all, teeth whitening procedures are not covered by insurance. Teeth whitening falls under the cosmetic procedure category, which is elected and not covered by insurance policies. So, if you are deciding to get professional teeth whitening, your dentist office will probably require you to go through a consultation where you’ll be able to get more information about the procedure and its costs. Some dental offices offer payment plans and others don’t. Be sure to check with your office to make sure that you know what you’re getting yourself into when it comes to money. 


One popular dental procedure is a home bleaching procedure. Your dentist will create an impression of your teeth and then create a whitening tray to fit in your mouth like a mouthguard or retainer would. Whitening material, such as a foam or gel, is then placed into the trays. These trays can be worn during the day or can be slept in at night. Depending on your dentist’s recommendations, the trays are usually worn for an hour or two, once a day. 


There are other dental procedures that can be done in the office that may offer quicker results too. It’s important to speak with your dentist to see which method of teeth whitening is going to be the best for you. Everyone has different needs and wants when it comes to their teeth and you want to make sure that those are reflected. 


One of the other benefits of going through your dentist is that you’ll be monitored throughout the entire procedure. Many times people tend to overuse or misuse at-home whitening treatments which can lead to permanent damage to your teeth. As adults, we only get one set of teeth, so make sure that you’re taking care of them and not risking the health of your teeth for an over-the-counter whitening method. 


No matter what you decide to do, professional or at-home whitening, we recommend that you speak with your dentist before starting any type of treatment. Your dentist will be able to recommend products or procedures that will work best with your dental history. 


At Smiles by Dr. Santos, we know that a bright, white smile can make a world of a difference, which is why we offer multiple options for teeth whitening. Schedule an appointment with us today to learn more about the options we offer. We look forward to seeing your smile!