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Teeth Whitening:
DIY vs. Your Dentist’s Office

White Teeth

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Who doesn’t want a more beautiful smile? The key to achieving this goal is sometimes as simple as whitening your teeth.

As a dentist who provides cosmetic services for my patients, I knew that I needed to have a beautiful smile. To that end, I have tried almost every whitening product out there. My quest was to find a whitening system that was simple to use, whitened teeth effectively, and that was comfortable even for my patients with sensitivity issues. Here is what I discovered.

Whitening at home

Choosing to use an over-the-counter product (usually whitening strips) with the ADA seal of approval is certainly a viable option. However it’s important to understand that while they are the most inexpensive method available, they may take longer to achieve maximum whitening. That’s because the at-home kits sold at your dentist’s office contain a much higher percentage of the active whitening ingredient than the over-the-counter solutions do. Of course, your actual results depend on your beginning shade: the darker it is, the longer it may take (in time and materials) to get to your optimum shade.

I recommend you take a beginning closeup photo of your teeth to compare with an end-result photo. Otherwise, it’s hard to remember where you started and whether you had any change in color after the whitening procedure.

It’s also important to check the expiration date on the box. Make sure you use the product before that date, for maximum effectiveness in whitening.

I have to admit, that I found many of the treatments caused some discomfort. If you find that these at-home whitening methods to cause you sensitivity, you might want to consider whitening only every other day, rather than every day. And those who experience more than just a little discomfort, sometimes turn to over-the-counter ibuprofen to alleviate the pain.

It’s also important to keep in mind, that no whitening method will change the color of dentures, crowns, white fillings, bonding, or veneers. If you have any of these visible artificial teeth or components in your smile, it may be best to consult with your dentist to see what treatment they would advise.

Whitening at the dentist’s office

Do you have a special occasion coming up, such as a wedding or a reunion? This would be the perfect time to do an in-office whitening procedure, which can show a dramatic improvement in the brightness of your smile in as little as one-and-a-half hours.

There are a few advantages of the in-office whitening procedures: 

  • The work is done for you, all in one sitting, instead of multiple applications over a few weeks at home.
  • The material is professional strength, which has a higher percentage of the active ingredient, so it whitens in less time than over-the-counter materials would.
  • I found my teeth to be less sensitive to the formula than they were to other whitening procedures I had experienced.
  • Although it may be a bit more expensive than a do-it-yourself procedures, it is still affordable, and the quality of the results makes it worthwhile.

Actual patient whitening results. 

Discolored Teeth

Whitened Teeth

Seeing the results of the whitening procedures done in my practice can be quite dramatic. If you have tried whitening in the past with marginal success, know that the materials and methods have improved over time, allowing us now to successfully whiten even the most difficult cases.

So, while over-the-counter whitening products can make a difference, they are not without their limitations. That’s why for a truly lasting and noticeably whiter smile, my best advice is for you to consult with your dentist to see which whitening procedures can give you the smile you have always wanted!

 
 


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