If you watch any commercial on TV, you know that one of the hot trends in personal care is teeth whitening. Teeth whitening is promised to perform miracles – from making ex-boyfriends jealous to taking Hollywood by storm. While these things may not happen, removing stains and discoloration from your teeth can boost your confidence and help you show off your smile. The question is, how do you go about it? Cheaper, over-the-counter applications, take home kits or an in-office procedure? Here are the things you need to consider when making your choice.
Procedures offered at the dentist’s office offer more dramatic color change in a shorter period of time. Dentists use a safely applied high concentration of the bleaching agent to teeth. One visit, usually under two hours, can yield much whiter teeth. In-office procedures also address more teeth, not just the front teeth as some over-the-counter products do.
Enlisting the dentist to whiten your teeth has the added benefit of having a professional work to make sure your teeth are natural looking. Artificial surfaces, such as bonding or crowns, will not change color with a whitener. If you incorporate whitening into your overall dental care program, you avoid the risk of mis-matched teeth.
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Take Home Kits
Take home kits are a less-expensive option to the professional application at a dentist’s office. They contain a higher concentration of the whitening agent than over-the-counter kits offer. Take home kits also use a custom tray, similar to a mouth guard, which provides a more comfortable fit and covers more teeth than a store kit. We find that sensitivity is reduced with custom trays since more of the gel stays on your teeth and off your gums.
OTC kits provide the cheapest option for teeth whitening. These kits can contain a generic bite tray, brush-on whitener, or adhesive strips. Often the kits are designed to only whiten the front, most visible, teeth. This means your teeth will not match in color. Because the kits are available without professional supervision, the concentration of whitener is lower and less effective. This means it takes much longer to see visible results from the whitening. We also observe that these products cause an increased sensitivity to whitening, likely due to the difficulty of controlling where the gel goes and keeping it away from areas that will increase your discomfort.
If you are considering whitening your teeth, you should start by consulting your dentist. Your dentist will go over your options and realistic expectations. Once you have the necessary information, you will need to decide what you want and how quickly you want it. Then you can move forward with whitening your beautiful smile.