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At-home vs. In-office Teeth Whitening

Craig Goldin DDS Feb 12, 2014

Troy Teeth WhiteningWhitening teeth is a popular way to improve your appearance, but with all the products on the market, it can be overwhelming picking one suited for you.    

If you are confused about choosing a treatment that is both safe and effective, cosmetic dentists Dr. Craig Goldin and Dr. Marcy Goldin in Troy can help by providing guidance on teeth whitening methods that match your needs and lifestyle.

No matter which process is chosen, at-home or in-office, teeth whitening principles are similar:  A whitening agent is applied to teeth to whiten them. The differences between at-home and in-office methods involve how strong the whitening agent is and how often or long you need to apply the whitener.  In-office whiteners are stronger than what is available for at-home use, brightening teeth faster and in fewer treatments.

But before embarking on any whitening treatment, there is a critical first step: Have your teeth examined. The American Dental Association recommends that your teeth be examined before any whitening treatment, no matter which method is used, to ensure your safety. If you have a loose filling or cavity, the whitening agent can seep inside the tooth and cause severe pain or even internal damage. In the worst scenario, damage could lead to root canal treatment.  

Over-the-counter

Over-the-counter at-home treatments include whitening strips or trays, which are both inexpensive and convenient. You don’t need an appointment and can do it on your own time schedule.

However, it can take weeks of over-the-counter treatments to noticeably whiten your smile. In-office treatments can accomplish the same or better results in a single session. In addition, trays used in over-the-counter treatments to hold the whitening gel against your teeth are generic, one-size-fits-all trays that make it more likely gel will seep out and irritate gums.   

A major disadvantage with at-home treatments is that you are on your own. If you do not use the whiteners correctly, you could be creating problems instead of solving them. The risk increases for people with sensitive teeth or gums.  

Professional Treatments

Dentists have several professional treatment options. In one popular treatment, a whitening gel is carefully applied to your teeth and a special laser light activates the gel, allowing it to penetrate deeply into the tooth.

In-office treatments using professional-strength whiteners are notably faster than over-the-counter products, making teeth as much as eight times whiter in a single treatment.

Dentists also provide professional at-home treatments that use trays. Unlike over-the-counter trays, these are custom molded to your teeth, ensuring optimum contact between the teeth and whitening agent while reducing the chances of gel reaching the gums.

A critical benefit a dentist provides is supervision. A dentist can ensure the treatment is performed correctly and make adjustments based on your needs. This is particularly important if you have sensitive teeth or gums. A dentist can modify treatment to avoid complications while enabling the best possible results.

The drawback with in-office treatments is that they are significantly more expensive.

Questions?

No one option is right for everyone. We would be happy to answer your questions about teeth whitening. Even if you choose an over-the-counter product, we can provide a professional cleaning to make certain you get optimum results. Please call for a consultation.

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