Whitening, also known as bleaching, is the procedure used to brighten teeth. There are two different ways to achieve a desired whiter smile: In-Office Bleaching and At-Home Bleaching. There are so many different products and methods, I can’t touch on all of them. The basic principle for most systems is some form of peroxide. The peroxide breaks up the little particles of stain on and in your teeth. The stronger the peroxide, the sooner you will see results, but you will also experience more sensitivity.
Many people ask about the advantages to different whitening systems. Some use lights, some use retainers or trays, some are paint on or stick on, some are used for minutes, some all night long…. Based upon my experience these past 20 years, I have seen a general pattern to the different systems. Most systems are effective to some degree. I have noticed that the one hour, or daytime use whitening systems, as a whole, tend to not whiten as deeply through the teeth, and therefore the teeth don’t get as white, or stay light for very long. The wear-at-night systems, tend to produce a more natural whitening that is more stable for years. But you do need to do the whitening every night for 10-14 days in order to achieve the best results.
So, you have many options to chose from. I would base my decision on what your desired result is, how long you are willing to whiten each day, and what you can tolerate to achieve the result you are hoping for.
Veneers are the great rumor in cosmetic dentistry. They are so popular because they are quick (2 weeks) and beautiful. What a veneer made by grinding off any stained, or crooked areas of your front teeth, and bonding a new ceramic face to the tooth. This is done quite often in Hollywood for actors who need straight, white teeth, but can’t spend 2 years in braces. Yet, as with any procedure, there is a physical and financial price to be paid. The physical price is the damage done to the teeth to prepare them for the porcelain. As much as the world of marketing would like to make you believe otherwise, there really is no way to get beautiful porcelain veneers without cutting off 1-2mm from the front and top of your teeth. Porcelain is beautiful and can be lifelike. But it needs to be built up in subtle layers. Some white layers, some more opaque, some transparent. And the best veneers can only be made with adequate space. So, a lot of tooth needs to be removed. You also need to replace the veneers as the teeth and bonding age. Teeth generally don’t last a lifetime, and neither do veneers.
Generally, insurance companies do not pay for a cosmetic service. Therefore, the cost of each veneer is left completely to the patient. These can run from just under $1000, to more. Depending on what needs to be accomplished, and how real you want them to look. Many labs can make a nice looking veneer, that is great for most people. Those are the standard veneers that cost close to $1000. However, a very high end, perfect veneer is very expensive.
Cosmetic Bonding is using filling material to make small changes to the shape or color of a few teeth. This is a great option for kids who have chipped a tooth, or who have adult teeth that are misshapen or small. Because it is filling material, it does not have the beauty and strength of a porcelain veneer, but they can be made to look very close to a natural tooth. Cosmetic bonding can also be done to get the first step towards veneers. Due to the cost of veneers, some patients choose to do one or two veneers a year, but want their overall smile improved on 6 or more teeth at once. With cosmetic bonding, you can get an improved smile before the veneer treatment is completed. Cosmetic bonding is more of a short-term, option. A couple of years, rather than many years.