Regain a Bright Smile That You’re Confident With

When was the last time you smiled? More than likely, the answer is sometime today! Over 30% of people smile more than 20 times a day. It’s a universal facial expression for people across the world—in fact, it’s so built into human behavior that we smile in utero!

Despite this, smiling is surprisingly varied. It’s a huge part of how we communicate with the people around us, expressing not just joy, but also other emotions like awkwardness, embarrassment, anger, and more. Since our smiles are so important for communication, we tend to care a lot about their appearance. It’s just another way of putting our best foot forward in social interactions, like wearing nice clothes and brushing or styling our hair.

If your smile is discolored, though, it’s easy to feel self-conscious about it. You might be less likely to share it with other people, which can impact the way they perceive you. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to stay that way! There are many options out there when it comes to whitening your smile and regaining your confidence in it.

But how do you know which option creates the best smiles by design? We want you to love your smile’s appearance while knowing that it’s also as healthy as possible, so we’ve broken down a list of the most common whitening treatments to help you choose the best option for you.

Teeth Whitening Strips

When you think about over-the-counter whitening treatments, teeth whitening strips are likely what comes to mind. These are flexible strips that you apply by molding them to fit the curves of your teeth on both your upper and lower arches. Each whitening strip has different directions, so it’s always important to read them and follow them closely to avoid harming your enamel. Using whitening strips too often or for too long can damage your enamel over time, so following the directions is always important.

Whitening strips can make a noticeable difference in the shade of your teeth over time, but the one-size-fits-all strips don’t always mold to your teeth perfectly, sometimes causing a few areas to not get as white as others. They can also overlap with your gums, causing gum sensitivity and irritation, but this is generally a short-term side effect. Despite these downsides, whitening strips are often considered the best over-the-counter treatment choice because they offer the most dramatic results.

Paint-On Teeth Whiteners

This type of teeth whitening treatment is painted on like a gel or varnish, hardening on your teeth while it begins to whiten them. This film will then dissolve in your mouth over time. While paint-on teeth whiteners are less expensive than whitening strips, they also tend to work less effectively.

The main advantage of whitening pens is that they give you a little more control of where the whitening product goes, allowing you to more easily avoid getting it on your sensitive gums and causing irritation. Since they don’t produce as noticeable results as other products, though, paint-on teeth whiteners might be best used as part of your efforts to maintain a professionally whitened smile as long as possible, instead of as a standalone treatment.

Whitening Toothpaste and Mouthwash

Whitening toothpaste and mouthwash are immensely popular products meant to help remove surface stains from your teeth over time, usually using mildly abrasive ingredients like baking soda. They’re less expensive than other options, but this is largely because of the gentler, more gradual way that they work.

These products can certainly be helpful, but they’re not the best if you want dramatic results. They’re typically used to maintain your white smile over time after you’ve gotten a smile makeover using a teeth whitening kit of some kind. Even the best whitening treatments can’t prevent future stains from accumulating on your teeth, so that’s where whitening toothpaste and mouthwash come in to save the day! As a result, they’re certainly worth using, but just don’t forget to pair them with a stronger, more effective treatment if you want to get the most benefit you can from them.

At-Home Whitening Trays

If you’re looking for dramatic results from a teeth whitening kit you can use at home, at-home whitening trays are a great option. In fact, they’re widely considered to be the best at-home whitening option! Two main factors set them apart from other whitening methods. The first is the whitening gel, which is a prescription-strength gel you can only get from your dentist. This gel provides more noticeable results than over-the-counter whitening products. The second factor is the tray itself, which is custom-made for you. This ensures that the gel is evenly distributed along each of your teeth (and between them) while protecting your gums from contacting the solution—giving you a whiter, more even smile without experiencing side effects like gum sensitivity.

Generally, at-home whitening trays like this are used every day for about two weeks, but how long you’ll need to apply the gel every day will depend on the level of staining on your teeth and what shade you’d like your teeth to reach. Dr. Cooley Bentz will discuss your treatment goals with you and design a treatment plan that will give you the best results possible. Although they whiten your teeth over time, they do so dramatically, so you’ll likely begin to notice a difference in less than a week.

Philips Zoom! In-Office Teeth Whitening Treatments

To get the best, most dramatic results, though, the best teeth whitening treatment out there is our Philips Zoom! in-office professional treatment. It can lighten your smile up to eight shades in just a single, 90-minute visit to our office—which makes for absolutely stunning results! How does it work? Well, a customized tray is used to apply the prescription-strength whitening gel to your teeth. Dr. Cooley Bentz then shines a special light on your teeth to activate the gel and boost the whitening process, helping bring about your noticeably whiter smile. During your appointment, we’ll apply the gel and light to your teeth in three 15-minute increments, which is all it needs to do its job. With your dentist around to help you through the process and ensure it’s done correctly, you can be sure that your results will be amazing and that your teeth will be just as healthy at the end of the process as they were when you started.

Each of these tooth whitening options has its strengths and weaknesses, but at the end of the day, the best option is one that fits who you are and gives you the results you want. When you discuss your goals with Dr. Cooley-Bentz, she will be glad to help you determine what treatment plan best meets your personal needs and goals. It’s also important to remember that whitening treatments are best used on accumulated stains from aging, tobacco use, and the foods and drinks you consume—some types of staining are best removed using veneers or dental bonding. No matter what, though, Dr. Cooley-Bentz will do her best to ensure you can truly love your smile. If you’d like to take the first step, feel free to schedule a cosmetic dentistry consultation at any time.