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There are many teeth whitening systems and products including whitening toothpastes, over-the-counter gels, rinses, strips, trays, and whitening products obtained from a dentist.

Teeth whitening is ideal for people who have healthy, unrestored teeth (no fillings) and gums. Individuals with yellow tones to their teeth respond best. But this cosmetic procedure is not recommended for everyone.

Find out if teeth whitening is right for you.

Whitening Systems

Whitening Toothpastes

All toothpastes help remove surface stains, because they contain mild abrasives. Some whitening toothpastes contain gentle polishing or chemical agents that provide additional stain removal effectiveness. Whitening toothpastes can help remove surface stains only and do not contain bleach; over-the-counter and professional whitening products contain carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide that helps lighten the color deep in the tooth. Whitening toothpastes can lighten the tooth's color by about one shade. In contrast, light-activated whitening conducted in your dentist's office can make your teeth three to eight shades lighter.

Over-the-Counter Whitening Strips and Gels

Whitening gels are clear, peroxide-based gels applied with a small brush directly to the surface of your teeth. Instructions vary depending on the strength of the peroxide. Follow the directions on the product carefully. Initial results are seen in a few days and final results are sustained for about four months.

Whitening strips are very thin, virtually invisible strips that are coated with a peroxide-based whitening gel. The strips are applied twice daily for 30 minutes for 14 days. Initial results are seen in a few days and final results are sustained for about four months.

Whitening Rinses

Among the newest whitening products available are whitening rinses. Like most mouthwashes, they freshen breath and help reduce dental plaque and gum disease. But these products also include ingredients, such as hydrogen peroxide in some, which whiten teeth. Manufacturers say it may take 12 weeks to see results. You just swish them around in your mouth for 60 seconds twice a day before brushing your teeth. However, some experts say that rinses may not be as effective as other over-the-counter whitening products. Because a whitening rinse is only in contact with the teeth for such a short time -- just two minutes a day compared to 30 minutes for many strips -- it may have less of an effect.

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