Richard Warner, D.D.S.
Warner Family Dentistry in Council Bluffs
Does teeth whitening work? The companies trying to sell us bleaching systems always answer that question with an emphatic “yes.” They even send us pictures of their beautiful models showing off their dazzling smiles... always folks with a dark complexion and wearing black, of course!
But how much of that is sales hype and what are results we can reasonably expect?
We decided to try it ourselves and find out!
Here's our experiences...
Dr. Warner bleached only this upper teeth so he could test how effective the whitening system was. Since his upper and lower teeth were the same shade before he started it was easy for him to see how much progress he was making. The photo at right is after three weeks using 15% carbamide peroxide bleach. The black spot toward the gumlime on the tooth at the lower right is a very old silver filling.
Dr. Warner was a tough case because he didn’t always follow the directions. “I forgot to put my bleach tray in a lot of evenings. I just didn’t want to think about teeth after a day at work! I also never wore it more than an hour at a time.”
“I was pleased with the results. I believe I could have gotten to a whiter shade had I worn the bleach trays longer but I’m happy with the way they look now.” He experienced no sensitivity during the procedure.
Laura first bleached her teeth in 2002. She had a nice result which she has maintained the past decade by just wearing her bleach trays a couple of nights every few months. Laura prefers to have the bleach trays in overnight. She occasionally has had some sensitivity but manages this by taking the trays out at that point and waiting a day before using them again.
Robbie started to see her first results at about five days. She uses the system two hours at a time. She says bright teeth give her confidence and an extra measure of pride in her appearance.
Rose first started to see changes her second week prompting her comment, “This stuff is fantastic!” She noticed sensitivity when she wore the bleach trays overnight. Her technique is to use the whitening agent for one hour at a time twice a day. This seems to be effective without causing sensitivity.
Jessica wore the bleach trays an hour then two hours at a time to make sure she wouldn’t experience sensitivity. She didn’t, so she started leaving them in overnight to get a faster result. Her teeth were fairly white already, but she noted results at about three days.
Karen will be an interesting case. She first tried teeth whitening products a dozen or so years ago and quit because of sensitivity problems. She’s now trying it again with the more modern materials. So far so good.
We’ll keep monitoring the staff’s progress and post the results here... check back for updates!
Our conclusions so far...
1. Though there are many whitening systems available a custom made bleach tray used at home for about three weeks seems to give the best and longest lasting result for the lowest cost and with the fewest side effects.
2. You need to have your teeth cleaned before whitening; the bleach can’t reach the teeth if there is tartar or plaque in the way!
3. Results can be maintained over a long period of time if you do some touchup bleaching every few months. Avoiding things that stain teeth will help as well. We have some suggestions; click here to see them.
4. You do not have to use the bleach trays everyday. You will get the same results if you don’t; it will just take longer.
Teeth Whitening... does it REALLY work???
The magazine “Popular Science” recently ran an article about tooth whitening that seems very well done. Their bottom line comes down to the sage old advice that applies to so many things in life: moderation. The article notes too much whitening with over-the-counter products can wear away enamel and actually make teeth yellower as the underlying dentin shows through. They also advise consulting with a dentist for the procedure and avoiding whitening kiosks and spas on cruise ships, malls and so forth.