In today's image conscious society, having bright, healthy-looking teeth is one of the most important aspects of your overall physical appearance. Due to the increased demand in having an improved, whiter looking smile, the process of teeth whitening either at home or under the care of a dental professional has become an increasingly common procedure.

Whether achieved through hour-long bleaching sessions at your local dentist's office, teeth whitening toothpastes, or over the counter bleaching kits that can purchased at your local drugstore, there are many options available today with teeth whitening methods available to satisfy every budget and schedule.

You may want to begin by consulting with your regular dentist. A dental professional should be able to tell you whether or not whitening procedures would be effective for you. Occasionally, whiteners may not be able to correct all types of discoloration. For example, teeth that are merely yellow hued are good candidates for bleaching, while attempting to whiten brownish hued teeth may not achieve the desired results. Also, you may want to avoid the bleaching process all together if you have had crowns or tooth-colored fillings applied to your front teeth. In these cases, whiteners may not change the color of those materials, and they will stand out among your other teeth that were whitened. In this situation, you may want to look into other options, such as dental bonding or porcelain veneers.

In Office Whitening: Whitening that is done by a dental professional is convenient in that you will be able to acheive significant color changes in a short period of time. During in-office bleaching, the dentist will usually apply a protective gel to your gums that will protect the soft tissue from being damaged. A high-concentration peroxide gel is then applied to the teeth, and a special light is then often used be used to speed up the action of the gel. Individuals that have deep staining may be required to return for additional sessions.

Over The Counter Bleaching Solutions: These products are convenient as they may be purchased at nearly any drug store or even in many supermarkets. A peroxide based gel is applied to the teeth through the application of whitening strips. These peroxide based whiteners effectively bleach the enamel of the tooth. Typically containing a 10% hydrogen peroxide, solution these at home applications usually last anywhere from 7-14 days.

Whitening Toothpastes: Today, all brands of toothpaste are able to help get rid of surface stains on out teeth through the combination of the motions of the toothbrush itself incombination mild abrasives that are contained in the toothpaste. Many whitening toothpastes contain additional polishing agents that will provide an additional stain removal benefit. Whitening toothpastes are effective in maintaining teeth that are already white in color, but eliminate surface stains only, as the product does not contain bleach as an ingredient. The ingredients of some whitening toothpastes do include peroxide compounds, however only at low levels. Due to these low levels of peroxide, in combination with the short actual exposure time that the teeth have to the toothpaste during the brushing process, the actual whitening effect of the peroxide found is considered to a have a minimum overall effect.

No matter what whitening method you choose, it is important to remember afterward that practicing good oral hygiene is a great way to maintain a bright, clean looking smile.

Remember these tips to help your teeth to stay as white as possible: Avoid eating any dark-colored foods, such as chocolate or drinking dark colored beverages for a minimum of one week after whitening. Also, remember to brush your teeth and floss regularly, especially after meals and before bedtime.