Teeth Whitening Procedures – Home Vs Office

Teeth whitening is a multi-billion dollar industry.  In 2011, the revenue of teeth whitening was over $11 billion.  Everyone wants white teeth. There have been countless surveys conducted about the desirability of white teeth.  These have concluded that having a beautiful smile makes you more attractive to the opposite sex and even to prospective employers.

Professional Teeth Whitening vs. OTC Whitening Products

There are so many whitening products available today that it would be impossible to discuss each one in a blog.  However, we will address the difference between professional whitening products and those you can purchase over-the-counter.  There are 3 distinct advantages of using professional teeth whitening instead of over-the-counter products.

  1. Higher concentrations of teeth whitening chemicals – Over-the-counter teeth whiteners are limited to a lower level of concentration. This lower concentration requires more time to achieve your whitening result.  Because of the high concentration of whitening ingredients available in professional teeth whitening products, the result is achieved faster.  The result is also, in many cases, much better with professional whiteners.
  2. Custom Fit – Because over-the-counter whiteners are sold in a one size fits all manner, there is usually some difficulty adapting the strips or trays to your teeth. A professional teeth whitening tray fits your teeth intimately and holds the gel exactly where it needs to be to get the greatest result.  This custom fit also protects areas of tooth sensitivity from worsening while undergoing the whitening process.
  3. Professional supervision – The FDA classifies over-the-counter whitening products as “cosmetic”. This means they are not regulated in the same way a drug is and cannot be deemed safe.  When you choose professional teeth whitening, your dentist can oversee the entire process.  This allows you to have the very best whitening result while ensuring that no harm is being done.
    Whitening gels are an irritant to the gum tissue.  Using a chemical gel in a one size fits all tray often leads to oozing of the gel onto the gum tissues, causing irritation and inflammation.  Having properly fitted custom trays eliminates this problem.

At Definition Dental, we offer two types of professional teeth whitening.  One is completed by our team in the dental office.  The other is carried out by the patient at home.

In-Office Teeth Whitening

In-office teeth whitening puts you on the fast track to a bright smile.  The system we use at Definition Dental is called BOOST.  The benefits of in-office teeth whitening are:

  • You will see whitening results in 1 hour!
  • We do the work for you!
  • The whitening gel is applied in a customized manner to avoid any sensitive areas or dental work which will not whiten.

In-office whitening uses a very high concentration whitening gel that can only be applied to the teeth by a dental professional.  The fast effect is a result of this high strength.

Because it is such a high concentration, the gums must be protected by using a gingival barrier.  The dental professional will apply a liquid barrier along the gumline, which hardens once it is cured by a blue light.  This barrier prevents the strong chemical gel from touching the gums and causing sores or inflammation. If you are interested in in-office whitening, please call the office today to schedule an appointment for a whitening consultation!

At Home Custom Tray Teeth Whitening

Custom tray teeth whitening is the gold standard of all teeth whitening products and procedures.  As described above, the custom trays fit the teeth intimately to keep the gel in its exact, prescribed position.  This prevents irritation of the gums and allows you to avoid any areas of tooth sensitivity.

Custom trays are the most affordable professional teeth whitening option over time.  There is an initial investment for the custom tray fabrication and whitening kit.  The trays will last for many years and can be used over and over.  Refill kits of the whitening gel can be purchased as needed from our office.  The ability to use the original trays with refills of whitening gel makes this option the most affordable over your lifetime.

At Definition Dental, the whitening gel provided with custom trays is Natural Elegance 15%.  This gel contains carbamide peroxide, which has a longer shelf life than other products.  With 15% gel, the recommended treatment time is 30-60 minutes.  Many of our patients place the gel into the trays and wear them while getting ready for work in the mornings.

The maximum whitening result is achieved when the whitening gel is used in custom trays for 10-14 days in a row.

Teeth Whitening Maintenance

The greatest benefit of custom tray whitening is that it provides for maintenance of a white smile.  Because many of the foods and beverages we eat and drink cause stains on the teeth, maintenance is necessary to ensure that your teeth stay bright and white.  The frequency of maintenance varies based on each person’s particular habits.  A heavy smoker or coffee drinker will require more frequent whitening.  Someone who rarely eats or drinks anything dark will only whiten once every few years.

An average person will perform maintenance whitening every 6 months for 3-4 days in a row. The timing of maintenance whitening is entirely up to the patient.  When you feel that your teeth have lost their brightness, you can whiten as needed.

Teeth Sensitivity During Whitening

Sensitivity is a common side effect of teeth whitening.  While you are whitening your teeth, they may become sensitive to cold air or liquids.  This side effect is reversible and will subside as soon as you stop the whitening process.

If the sensitivity becomes intolerable for you, you should slow down your whitening process.  Using the whitening trays every 2-3 days can reduce the levels of sensitivity you experience.

If lowering the frequency of whitening does not help, please advise your dentist.  She may prescribe a lower concentration of the whitening gel to further reduce the sensitivity. She will also evaluate the teeth that are affected.  There are cases where the tray itself needs adjustment to prevent whitening gel from touching a sensitive area.

Ready to Whiten Your Teeth?

Call today to schedule a whitening consultation with Dr. Agarwal!  She will be happy to discuss the various whitening options and help you decide which one is right for you.

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