Local News

Learn What To Look For With Teeth Whiteners

Posted May 18, 2005

— There is a big cost difference between professional teeth whitening and home kits. You could spend hundreds of dollars in an office or $15 to $30 from a store. However, more than money and results are at stake.

Lisa Thursby wants a brighter smile. She does not trust inexpensive over-the-counter teeth whiteners, so she is getting the Zoom treatment. A hydrogen peroxide gel covers her teeth. Then, she sits under a broad blue laser for three 20-minute sessions.

A Zoom treatment costs about $650. Over-the-counter kits promise results and deliver for much less.

"It's not that they don't work. They do. They work limited, but my biggest concern is what the chemistry, what the materials, can do to the tissue, short-term and long-term," dentist Dr. Steven Andreaus said.

Teeth whitening strips look like a clear band-aid, wrapped around the teeth. Some overnight gels are painted on the teeth. Others involve whitening material in a tray or mouth guard. Andreaus said none of them are foolproof and could harm the gums.

"Clearly, these things say, 'Don't get it on your tissue,' and it's almost impossible not to," he said.

Thursby also needs special whitening and rebonding of one tooth she injured many years ago.

Andreaus is not opposed to patients using popular home kits, but he recommends patients get a thorough exam first and let a dentist demonstrate how to use the product.

"Don't hesitate to take your whitening materials to your dentist and ask him to help you out," he said.

The molded trays will help Thursby get even brighter results. They also protect her gums, which is the most important thing.

"Please, please, please be careful to keep it off of your tissue because no tissue, no bone. No bone, no tooth," Andreaus said.

Andreaus stresses the importance of a thorough exam before using any teeth whitener. The material could make an existing problem, like a decay or gum recession, even worse.


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