Should You See Your Dentist for Whitening?
As people of all ages seek a whiter, healthier looking smile, teeth whitening has emerged as the single most popular cosmetic dental procedure in dentistry.
With all of the new developments in whitening, from whitening toothpaste to whitening gum and mouthwash, the question is, what is the difference between over the counter teeth whitening products and professional whitening at your dental clinic?
How does whitening work?
Over the counter whitening products work in a similar way to professional whitening in a dental clinic, but there are some major differences in the planning and approach, the concentration of whitening products, cost, and safety and application.
Planning and approach
One of the biggest challenges with whitening is that not all teeth stains and discoloration respond to the traditional bleaching approach. Additionally, the look of your smile is effected by a number of other factors including the appearance of the gum-line, the straightness of your teeth and even the shape of the teeth.
Your dentist is trained to help you get the best results by selecting the right treatment method based on your situation. Your dentist may recommend teeth whitening alone or in combination with other cosmetic dentistry procedures, such as Invisalign orthodontics, dental crowns or porcelain veneers.
In the end you will always have the final say in which treatments work best for your based on your time and budget, but you will avoid the frustration of one-size-fits-all treatments that may not be right for you.
Concentration of whitening gel
If you’ve tried over the counter whitening products, you know that you have to be consistent with their use and really patient if you want to see results. One of the reasons why great results are often not achieved by over the counter products is that people do not stick with the process – which can be cumbersome, time consuming and uncomfortable.
Whitening at your dental clinic offers nearly immediate results. The primary reason for this is that a dentist is permitted to use a high concentration of bleaching gel to get whitening results that show immediately.
Over the counter whitening products cannot compete with the dramatic results achieved through high concentration, in-clinic whitening.
Safety and application
Another challenge with over the counter whitening products is the application. Even if you take the time to read and carefully follow the directions, it can seem impossible to make the process smooth and comfortable. Perhaps the trays or strips do not fit properly, or some of the whitening gel ends up on your tongue or gums. All of this can make it hard to stick to the plan!
In clinic teeth whitening is done with customized applications to make sure that they fit and protect you. Precautions are built in to the whitening process to make sure that whitening gel does not stay in contact with the gums, tongue or cheeks.
Tooth sensitivity is another common complaint when whitening. Your dentist has the tools and knowledge to reduce tooth sensitivity and discomfort while you whiten.
In clinic teeth whitening services average in range from $300 – $500 while over the counter whitening products typically range from $40 – $120. In the end, however, it is up to you to weigh the pros and cons of each option.
If you are looking for fantastic results in the shortest amount of time, your dentist is your best bet. If you’re not sure if teeth whitening is for you, your dentist can also review your plans and discuss other options and factors that you may not have even considered. As a bonus, professional whitening usually includes some home maintenance products to help you keep your new, whiter smile even longer.