How best to whiten teeth
May 6, 2012 3:09 PM   Subscribe

[asking for a friend] What is the safest in-office method of whitening or bleaching one's teeth?

I have a dear friend who is unhappy with the color of her teeth (years of smoking -- stopped now, coffee), and is considering cosmetic dentistry to whiten them.

She is curious what different methods there are, the relative safety of those methods, and the approximate costs thereof.

Anybody in the hive have any ideas or suggestions?
posted by Caligula's Idiot Cousin to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Additional tidbit: She can't use the at-home tray thingies because she's has a tendency to grind her teeth, and those just make that tendency worse.
posted by Caligula's Idiot Cousin at 3:11 PM on May 6, 2012

For me, in office bleaching was painful and lasted only a few months despite the fact that I religiously did not eat or drink substances that would impact the color of my teeth. I spent a lot of money for very, very little return. YMMV.

How would she feel about Crest whitestrips? They are cheaper and have made a big change in my smile without the pain and trays other whitening methods have.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 3:28 PM on May 6, 2012

My dentist told me that because of dental work and the childhood braces I had that whitening alone wouldn't work well and I needed veneers. Normal whitening strips and other drugstore stuff that I tried didn't do a thing.

But about a month ago I had a store rewards coupon so I tried "Crest 3D White with Advanced Seal Intensive Professional Effects" for a 7 day course and it worked amazingly well. It's 7 strips (7 top and 7 bottom) used two hours a day for 7 days. It claims to be equivalent to a dental visit and it has a money back guarantee. About $55 in drugstores without a coupon. These have a little box saying "Whitening Power 5" and there are very similar Crest boxes with numbers 3 or 4. Be careful in the store.

They're the strips that adhere to the front teeth, top and bottom, and grinding won't affect them. They adhere very tightly and do stay on for 2 hours, not like cheaper strips. I can dis-recommend cheaper strips, even from Crest.

It worked very well for me. I can recommend these as a first thing to try. I have a little way to go and I have purchased a second box, but there is no way the second box can do as much as the first box did.
posted by caclwmr4 at 3:28 PM on May 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: She says that the Crest® WhiteStrips™ hurt her teeth. She can use them sparingly even so, but wants to know if they're really safe.
posted by Caligula's Idiot Cousin at 3:34 PM on May 6, 2012

Best answer: Oh. Some, not all, reviews say they hurt the teeth or cause sensitivity, but just for a day or two. They did not hurt me at all.

She wouldn't have to use them for 7 straight days, although she'll want to after seeing the result after the 2nd day! But she could skip days, or go through them fast and get it over with.

Whether they hurt or not, there wouldn't be any permanent damage, just a sensitivity for a few days. I expect that would be the same with any dentist office treatment since they all use basically the same ingredient - peroxide. The sensitivity or pain could be worse with one of the dentist tray treatments. The whitestrips can be carefully placed to minimize contact with gums, while a tray treatment would be even stronger with much more contact with gums.
posted by caclwmr4 at 3:44 PM on May 6, 2012

If she does grind her teeth, the trays should not really impede a behavior she already has and may actually help her in the long run. they are annoying, I give you that. But if she can do something other than think about this gigantic plastic bung she's got in her mouth, like taking a nap or listening to calming music she'll feel better about it.
posted by parmanparman at 4:01 PM on May 6, 2012

Best answer: another vote for crest whitestrips, but here's the trick: tell her to brush with sensodyne one week before, and during the time she uses them. no (or very little) sensitivity!
posted by changeling at 4:23 PM on May 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Changeling's advice is solid. I got a little sensitivity when I misused them (ie I left them on for an hour, not half an hour) but sensodyne really helped.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 4:43 PM on May 6, 2012

I find using a fluoride rinse for at least 2 weeks prior to using any kind of bleaching treatment or whitestrips pretty much eliminates sensitivity for me. I use this (in the mint flavor though!). Just be sure not to ingest anything for at least half an hour after spitting out the rinse though.

Of course, when I realized that this essentially meant my teeth needed re-mineralizing, I continued to do it anyway on a semi-regular basis. My teeth are never temperature sensitive anymore though!
posted by shinyblackdog at 5:52 PM on May 7, 2012

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