Teeth whitening is among the most popular cosmetic dental procedures available. The process contributes to a great-looking smile and is generally fast, minimally invasive, and relatively inexpensive. While teeth whitening only treats the symptoms—rather than what is actually discoloring your teeth—it can deliver immediate results, which can last for several months or more with proper care.
You have options when it comes to whitening your teeth. You can have them professionally whitened at a dental office by a dentist or dental hygienist. You can also opt for a do-it-yourself kit. There are many at-home systems on the market, so let us consider the pros and cons of DIY versus in-office care.
Professional Teeth Whitening
Professional teeth whitening is performed by a highly trained dental professional in a sterile environment. The process is not only safe but delivers excellent results due to dental professionals’ skill and experience but also the more powerful whitening agents available to them. Just as with over-the-counter options, there are many different in-office treatments available, including GLO, Zoom, and Opalescence. Cost and application technique vary subtly from product to product.
A thorough cleaning of your teeth by a dental hygienist is usually a precursor to in-office teeth whitening. Your dentist will then examine your teeth and gums for potential health issues and suitability for whitening. Many dental offices will then take photos of your teeth so that you can compare them before and after.
Often, your dental hygienist will use a device known as a cheek retractor in order to better expose the teeth. A hardening resin or similar substance is then applied to the gums in order to protect the soft tissue. The dentist will then apply a bleaching gel consisting of hydrogen peroxide and other agents for about 15 to 30 minutes. After that period, the first application is removed, and the gel is applied a second time and remains there for a similar span. Some treatments involve light therapy, which helps to disrupt the discoloration. In all cases, results are immediate but will intensify over the next several days.
How you maintain your teeth moving forward will determine how long the effects last. Your dentist may discuss foods and beverages to avoid as well as other minor lifestyle changes that can make a big difference. Your dentist may also give you an at-home kit in order to help maintain the effects longer.
At-Home Teeth Whitening
Do-it-yourself teeth whitening kits available over the counter tend to cost less than professional treatments. It is also more convenient in that you get to whiten in the comfort of your own home and whenever you feel like it. Options like strips, trays, and brush-on whiteners can all be purchased at local pharmacies and groceries as well as online. Despite those advantages, OTC teeth whitening kits have a lower concentration of cleaning agents, which means a lesser degree of change. These products can work well in order to sustain already white teeth, but people with stained and otherwise discolored teeth may be dissatisfied with the results and end up visiting their dentists anyway.
At-home systems with higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide and the like are available through your dentist. As mentioned earlier, dentists will often give patients at-home kits as a follow-up to in-office care, and many dental offices will sell them to you without requiring a professional whitening treatment. In fact, many dentists believe these at-home systems can achieve similar results to in-office whitening, and the reason for this is that whitening is gradual and tends to intensify over time.
Application techniques can vary greatly because there are so many products on the market that have been FDA-approved and received the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Whichever product you choose, it is recommended that you begin the teeth whitening regimen after having had a professional cleaning of your teeth performed. This can have a dramatic effect on the results. Be mindful that it is possible to over-bleach your teeth. Adhere to your dentist’s recommendations and the packaging instructions.
In addition to OTC teeth whitening kits, there are toothpastes, flosses, mouthwashes, and even gum that contain whitening agents. These options are certainly not comparable to in-office treatments, and they tend to compare unfavorably to at-home systems. However, they may be able to play an effective role in sustaining your white teeth and can help to offset the tooth-discoloring diet choices you may make.
Is Whitening Appropriate for Your Teeth?
Age is a factor. According to WebMD, teeth whitening is generally not recommended for people under age 16. Oral health is also a factor. Before recommending teeth whitening, your dentist will perform a comprehensive examination. If you have dental problems, such as cavities or gum disease, the whitening procedure could exacerbate them and cause you discomfort. Your dentist will want to treat those conditions and wait to whiten until after you have fully recovered from those treatments.
It is also worth noting that not all discoloration is the same. Some stains are intrinsic, which means that the inner layer of dentin has been discolored. In these cases, your dentist may discuss other restorative options with you, such as veneers or non-vital tooth whitening treatments.
Whether you are a candidate for at-home teeth whitening system is a trickier subject. Anyone can purchase an OTC kit and administer it to themselves. But you should be mindful that if you have oral health issues that have gone untreated, you can cause yourself undue pain as well as further damage to your teeth and gums. Dentists will generally not sell their at-home kits to patients with whom they are unfamiliar. The best advice is to wait to use these products until you have had your teeth cleaned and examined.
Enjoy Gleaming White Teeth
You can enjoy beautiful white teeth throughout your life, but more importantly, you can achieve it in a safe manner. Jeffrey D. Clark, DDS, is among the leading cosmetic dentists in the region. Dr. Jeff can advise GLO in-office teeth whitening, take-home kits, over-the-counter options, and lifestyle adjustments. Schedule your initial cleaning and examination with Scottsdale Cosmetic Dentistry Excellence today. Call us at 480 585 1853.