Whiter teeth can improve the attractiveness of your smile and help you look younger (teeth typically become yellowed or grayish as we age). Teeth whitening is a very popular cosmetic dental procedure, and you have the option of in-home treatments or treatments provided only by your dentist. However, there are several differences between the two options. Courtesy of Brewery District Dental, here are the basics you should know:
Store Bought Treatments
You have lots of options when it comes to products you can buy at the store to whiten your teeth. All of these use a gentle whitening agent (usually hydrogen peroxide), and the risk of damage to the tooth enamel is minimal. There are also whitening toothpaste and mouth rinses that you can use in place of regular toothpaste and mouthwash (use the rinse before you brush your teeth). Whitening gels are applied with a small brush and left in place. Peroxide strips are applied directly to the teeth and worn for about 30 minutes twice a day. Costs vary according to the product.
Store Bought Treatments – Advantages and Disadvantages
Teeth whitening treatments you buy at the store are convenient, readily available and relatively inexpensive. The primary disadvantage is the inconsistent success rate, as results will vary wildly from person to person. There may also be issues with the uniformity of the whitening: some areas of the teeth may get whiter, and others may not. This has to do with the relative lack of precision in applying the product. Although they are safe to use, whitening gels can sometimes irritate your gums if you aren’t careful in applying them. These treatments only remove surface stains, and all of them usually require multiple treatments. It may take a while before you see results and the whitening effects may last only a few months.
Professional Teeth Whitening
Professional teeth whitening also offers options. You can get a set of custom treatment trays for use at home or have a chair-side whitening treatment. The whitening agent in these treatments can be either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide and is available in stronger concentrations than store-bought products. The at-home route requires your dentist to make you a set of custom trays that you use at home to whiten your teeth at your convenience. In-office treatment involves a gel applied to the teeth after the gums and other sensitive areas are covered to prevent irritation.
Professional Teeth Whitening – Advantages and Disadvantages
One of the biggest benefits of professional whitening is that it has the potential to be faster and much more effective than anything you can buy at the store. Whether done at home or in-office, the solution is applied with much more precision, as everything is custom versus a “one size fits all” approach with store-bought products. Furthermore, with a stronger solution, a professional treatment is much more likely to be effective in removing tough stains compared to store-bought products. As with any type of whitening, sensitivity is a potential side effect. It’s for this reason that I generally recommend custom take-home kits for interested patients, as this has a lower likelihood of sensitivity compared to in-office treatments. Professional teeth whitening is also more expensive, and your insurance probably won’t cover the cost.
Whichever teeth whitening treatment you’re considering, talk to your dentist. They can evaluate your teeth and help you make a decision or point out any possible risks specific to your oral health issues. If you have questions or want to schedule an appointment, please contact us at Brewery District Dental today.