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Teeth Whiteners

By September 28, 2008 - 9:03am
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Does anyone use any teeth whiteners that actually work? I am a smoker and I drink coffee that tends to dull the color of my teeth and without going to the dentist, is there anything over the counter that works well?

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Cindy, I love your question because I see those white-white smiles on television or in magazines and I think, how did those people get their teeth that white? And did they hurt their teeth in the process?

The American Dental Association site has a lot of information on tooth-whitening products, both in-office bleaching and at-home bleaching. Here's a link to their FAQ on tooth whitening:


One thing to know is that people's teeth differ in their natural color to start with, which means the effect of any whitening will be individual as well. Also, if you have a porcelain crown, other bonding or tooth-colored fillings in your front teeth, you should know that the bleaching doesn't affect their color and they might stand out. (Darn. I've had a porcelain crown on a front tooth since I was 17. That means I might need a dentist to work on my teeth, who could more properly match the effect of the bleaching with the color of my crown.)

The at-home tooth whiteners contain peroxide, which bleaches the tooth enamel. The percent of peroxide ranges from 10% to 22%. They typically come in a gel and you use them with a mouthguard. The ADA Seal is given only to dentist-dispensed bleaching kits with 10% carbamide peroxide.

Here's a good NPR story on how tooth whitening works, at all levels of the process. You can read it or click on a button to listen to it:


It mentions that whether you use whitening strips or go to your dentist, the process is the same. You get a faster and more intensive process at the dentist, but of course it costs more.

September 29, 2008 - 9:33am
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