Everyone craves a whiter and brighter smile and there are numerous marketed products that claim to help you achieve just that. Whether it be specific toothpastes, mouthwashes, whitening strips, gels, or that fancy blue light you see at the kiosk in the mall, the same question always arises, does it actually work?
If you read the ingredients label, you will see that all these products will have one thing in common, hydrogen peroxide. This is the chemical used in most whitening agents because it works! Even dentists use it, but not all whitening agents will deliver the same results.
If you come across a mouth wash or toothpaste product that claims to have whitening powers it is probably not going to be very effective unless you use it over the span of two to three months, about nine times a day, and hold it in your mouth for several minutes. This is because the concentration of hydrogen peroxide in the product in very low. There are some over-the-counter whitening products that show results, such as Crest whitestrips or whitening trays, but they take time and are relatively not cheap. A box of Crest whitestrips is $60 bucks and oftentimes you need many boxes to get the results you are looking for!
Then there are those middle of the mall kiosks. I’m sure that those of you who have considered teeth whitening at the dentist office have noticed that the kiosk at the mall are always way cheaper and use that blue light so it must be legit, right? Not necessarily. A key difference between whitening at these kiosks vs. the dental office is that your professionally licensed dentist can accelerate the whitening action by using stronger concentrations. The concentration of the peroxide gel at the mall is sometimes no stronger then the do-it-yourself kits at home and therefore results might not be noticeable unless weeks of repeated application are undergone.
What it boils down to is most patients want to know that they aren’t wasting their money and with the cost of whitening at dental offices being higher, there is skepticism of whether they are getting their monies worth. Here are some things to consider if you are debating between over-the-counter or in-office whitening treatment:
Teeth whitening isn’t for everyone. If you have had a filling, crown, or bridge work on your front teeth then teeth whitening might not be a good choice. Why? Because those restorations won’t change color. However, under the guidance of a dentist, you might be able to advise a well-thought out treatment plan if teeth whitening is something you really want to do. The people at the mall probably wouldn’t tell you that!
Whitening done wrong can cause sensitivity. The chemical process that goes on while whitening can cause some sensitivity, but isn’t long lasting. You might notice that temperature changes in the mouth or eating something sweet might cause some oral pain. There are treatments prior to and after whitening to help control sensitivity. Your dentist would be the best help for this. Also the shorter duration the whitening gel is on your teeth, the less the sensitivity issue… so with STRONGER concentrations and SAFER DENTAL PROFESSIONAL oversight, you get the best of both worlds: fast action, reduced to no sensitivity risk, and minimal to no tissue irritation.
If you have a problem, who will be able to help you? Remember that the people at the mall are not dentists, therefore they won’t have follow up treatments with you or apply desensitizer (or frankly even know what to do). They are simply employees that are trained to fill trays and hand them to their customers. If you have a problem, they would probably tell you to call your dentist.
The chemicals used to whiten teeth are serious. They are safe when handled properly, however they can cause burns to the lips and gums. In office whitening has certain protocols that focus on reducing risk by isolating the teeth from the lips and gums.
Bottom line is that the SAFEST and most EFFECTIVE way to whiten your teeth is at your dentist office.
If you are a dentist, you may know the answers to questions such as “are my teeth in good enough shape to do this? Are the gums healthy enough to resist the bleaching process? Am I over-whitening? Am I making existing, untreated cavities worse?” If you are not a dentist, then you should proceed with caution and talk to one first before trying any at-home whitening treatments. At a dental office, you will be under the supervision of a professional and provided with pre-and post whitening treatments, desensitizing applications, an in-chair treatment, and home whitening supplies. Not to mention the results will be noticeable, immediately. Assuredly faster than those do-it-yourself treatments!
If you live in the Triangle area and interested in whitening your teeth, give Durham DDS a call! We offer customized options to help you achieve a brighter smile. To set up an appointment call our office at 919-286-0779 or visit durhamdds.com for more information. Find out more about our teeth whitening services and other services we offer HERE