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Teeth Whitening: Your Options for a Brighter Smile

cary north carolina teeth whitening
CC image by Rupert Taylor-Price

Many patients wish that their smiles were whiter and brighter. Activities like smoking, drinking coffee or red wine and eating dark foods can subtly stain teeth, leaving them a bit yellowed over the years. Even if you do none of these things, the natural aging process often darkens teeth. And, of course, some people simply have darker teeth than others. There are several types of teeth-whitening options to choose from. Here are some of them.

OTC Bleaching Trays

A stroll through any drugstore will show you several different brands of teeth whitening formulas. Generally, you use the trays (either pre-formed or “boil and bite”) to hold the bleaching solution, which you then place on your teeth. Results may vary; some people see a good bit of lightening over time, while others might get a shade whiter.

These are generally safe, but they can cause gum irritation and tooth sensitivity. These side effects are more likely in patients who think, “more time is better,” and either wear the trays too long or use them more often than indicated. Also, the trays tend not to fit very well, so the coverage may be spotty.

OTC Whitening Toothpastes

In addition to bleaching trays, you can buy whitening toothpastes. The way these usually work is that an abrasive scrubs away stained parts of the teeth. The results are generally good if your problem is resulting from coffee, smoke or food stains. Once you stop using the toothpaste, however, the stains will tend to come back.

Prescription Bleaching Trays

When you have trays made in the office, they are designed to fit your teeth perfectly. You’ll have impressions taken, then when the trays are made, a bit of extra space is included in front of each tooth to allow room for the bleaching solution. Side effects like irritated gums and sensitive teeth can still occur, but because you’ll be whitening your teeth under a dentist’s supervision, they’re less likely.

Laser Teeth Whitening

With a laser, your dentist can whiten your teeth several shades in just one visit. The results after one appointment can rival those that you’d achieve in two to six weeks of at-home bleaching with trays. If you have stains from taking certain antibiotics or from the nerve of your tooth, the results will be better than what you can achieve at home. The major drawback of laser teeth whitening is that it is more expensive than other types of bleaching systems.

If you are not happy with the brightness of your smile, give our office a call to schedule a consultation. We can go over which types of teeth whitening are likely to work best for your individual situation!

Call 919.388.3111 to make an appointment or

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