The Best Way to Whiten Stained Teeth

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Tooth stains come from cigarettes, food debris, alcohol and caffeine. According to the Make My Teeth Whiter website, cosmetic dentistry can lighten teeth by eight shades, while over-the-counter treatments can whiten teeth by two to three shades. With any teeth whitening method, you are really not making the teeth whiter. Instead, you are removing stains, giving the enamel a whiter appearance. While having a dentist whiten your teeth is more costly, some over-the-counter methods are very affordable and can produce good, but nor dramatic, results.

Dentists' Methods

Dentists provide the best teeth whitening results. But having a dentist bleach your teeth can cost at least a few hundred dollars. Dentists apply bleaching agents to stained teeth, usually a peroxide- based substance. To accelerate the bleaching process, the dentist also might use heat in the form of a special light, lasers or both. With the application of heat, you can get very noticeable results in one hour or less. The bleaching done at a dentist’s office also lasts longer than other whitening methods.

Mouth Tray Kits

A good alternative to visiting a dentist is buying a teeth-whitening tray kit. You make an impression of your mouth, using the materials provided in the kit. The Make My Teeth Whiter website notes that “the most common type of kit involves a tray that you mold to your mouth by boiling it in water and then put the warm tray in your mouth until it molds to your teeth.” You fill the tray with a bleaching gel that also comes with the kit, fit the tray around your teeth and leave the device in your mouth for a few hours or possibly overnight. Each kit works a little differently, so follow specific directions. The longer you use the teeth-whitening tray and gel, the better the result will be. While some users complain that the tray is uncomfortable, you can get a better fit by buying these kits from your dentist. A dentist can get a much better impression of your teeth. If the tray does not fit well, the bleaching will be even and your teeth could look splotchy.

Other Whitening Products

Using toothpaste with a built-in whitener produces a mild whitening effect. These toothpastes are easy to use: Just brush your teeth as you would with ordinary toothpaste. Another option, whitening strips, are also relatively easy to use. These strips are very thin and almost invisible. They contain a bleaching agent and adhesive so you can apply them to the fronts of the upper and bottom rows of teeth. Whitening strips are used twice a day for 30 minutes. After two weeks of consistent use, you should see an improvement. Another choice is paint-on bleaching gels. These products come with a small brush that you use to apply the gel to each tooth. Many people object to the gel's taste and to the time it takes to apply the gel to individual teeth. The results are minimal.

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