At-Home Teeth Whitening vs. Professional Whitening

You’ve undoubtedly seen the television commercials that show bright, white teeth on the model after “just 30 minutes!” “in the privacy of your home!”

Teeth whitening is big business: MSNBC reported in 2012 that Americans spent more than $1.4 billion on OTC teeth whiteners.

But do these teeth whitening products really work? Who is a good candidate for these products and who should go to a professional? How much of a difference – if any – is there between a professionally done whitening procedure and the OTC products?

Read below for some answers.

  • Very few people reach adulthood without some dulling of the color of their teeth. Colas, coffee, smoking, wine, etc. discolor the teeth. In fact, the best candidates for teeth whitening of any kind are those whose teeth are discolored as a result of coffee, tea and tobacco.
  • That said, even discoloration that comes from inside your teeth can be treated with a teeth whitening procedure. Talk to your Plano cosmetic dentist to see what type of treatment is best for your particular discoloration.
  • Over-the-counter treatments generally have users place a whitening/bleach substance in teeth-shaped plastic trays (one tray for the top teeth and one for the bottom) and then putting the trays on their teeth for a specified amount of time. Consumers are supposed to use the tray and bleach periodically over several days or weeks until they achieve the amount of whitening they desire.
  • While the tray system is the highest level of in-home teeth whitening, additional types of whitening products are strips, mouthwashes/rinses,toothpastes, and even chewing gum. The whitening strips tend to have the best outcomes, second to the tray method.
  • While whitening your teeth with an over-the-counter product is less expensive than having a Plano cosmetic dentist do the work, you’ll undoubtedly find that it takes longer to see results than it would if you were to receive in-office treatments. This is because your dentist can use a stronger whitening agent than is found in OTC products. In addition, the dentist will make sure that your gums aren’t exposed to the whitening agents and can also use desensitizers. Your dentist also will create a tray custom-fitted to your particular teeth/mouth.
  • Anyone with sensitive teeth or gums should first consider going to a professional because, as mentioned above, your dentist can ensure your teeth and gums won’t be irritated.
  • Individuals with untreated tooth decay, with gum problems or pregnant women should not undergo teeth whitening procedures. Some patients with decay/gum problems may be a candidate for professional whitening, but be sure to talk to your Plano cosmetic dentist first.

If you’d like to know if you’re a candidate for either an in-office or OTC teeth whitening procedure, contact Dr. Darren Dickson.

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