You may have heard that over-the-counter teeth whitening kits are more convenient, cheaper, and just as effective as professional teeth whitening services, but is that really true? Choosing the right option may not be as easy as you think. Store-bought vs. professional teeth whitening is a difficult dilemma since the condition of your teeth can affect your oral health, self-esteem, and even your life success. We’re here to break the misconception that store-bought teeth whitening kits are just as good as a professional teeth whitening session.
Ready to choose between store-bought vs. professional teeth whitening? Schedule an appointment for pro services at AK Dental Arts.
What Are Your Whitening Goals?
Before you rush out to buy OTC teeth whitening products, it makes sense to consider what your goals are for teeth whitening. If you go to your family dentist, they will examine your teeth and determine the best goals for you, discussing it with you to ensure they understand your wishes.
However, if you are considering doing this without consulting a dentist, you need to be aware of the different types of stains and how they can be removed. The two types are intrinsic stains and extrinsic stains.
Intrinsic stains are discolorations that are deep within your teeth. These stains affect the dentin of your teeth, which is the inner portion. They are usually caused during childhood by things like:
- Regularly drinking water with too much fluoride.
- If your mom took antibiotics during pregnancy with you
- A fall, impact, or sports injury to your teeth
For intrinsic stains, experts agree that in-office whitening is the best choice.
Extrinsic stains are stains that affect only the outer layers of the teeth. Some examples of extrinsic stains include:
- Coffee stains
- Wine stains
- Soda stains
- Brown stains from smoking
In some cases, store-bought teeth whitening can accomplish the goal of ridding your teeth of minor extrinsic stains. However, to be sure, it’s always best to check with your dentist at your next dental visit.
Should Everyone Whiten Their Teeth?
Of course, anyone with teeth can attempt to whiten them, either with a dentist or on their own. You can, but should you? If you talk to a dental care expert, you might discover that you should not try to whiten your teeth. Here are a few reasons you might want to avoid teeth whitening altogether.
- The patient is a child who has some primary teeth and some permanent teeth. When the permanent teeth all come in, they might never match the teeth that have already been whitened.
- You have tooth-colored crowns or bridges.
- Your dentist does not recommend whitening for you.
In fact, if you are considering whitening your teeth, your safest and the best course of action is to talk to your trusted dentist and follow their recommendations. Don’t worry. If at-home whitening is best for you, they won’t hesitate to provide those options for you.
How Are Teeth Whitened?
Different products can be used to whiten teeth. These products can have any of a variety of ingredients. Knowing which ingredients are beneficial for your particular whitening goals is critical to getting the outcome you want. Here are some of the teeth whitening products and services available, what the products contain, and what they treat best.
Types of OTC Teeth Whitening Products
There are many types of OTC teeth whitening products. Some of the options you may be considering include:
- Whitening strips that use hydrogen peroxide to bleach off stains
- Teeth whitening toothpastes that depend on abrasiveness to scrub off stains
- Pre-filled teeth whitening trays that stick to teeth and use hydrogen peroxide to bleach teeth during use.
- Gel whitening trays using LED lights to whiten teeth
- Portable teeth whitening pens for touch-ups
- Overnight teeth whitening pens with a serum you leave on as you sleep
It’s a good idea to explore your options thoroughly and research the ones that you are interested in trying. Then, you are prepared to have an intelligent discussion and make an informed decision. Remember that any time you use OTC products, you must follow the directions exactly, unless your dentist instructs you otherwise.
What Do Dentists Use for Teeth Whitening?
It’s a good idea to learn everything you need to know about professional teeth whitening. Here’s a start. Dentists have many professional products available to them for teeth whitening. Your dentist has more control over the application and results than you do with store-bought teeth whitening kits. This control is partly a result of their expertise, their equipment, and the products they can use that you cannot.
One important difference with dental office teeth whitening is that professional products tend to use carbamide peroxide rather than hydrogen peroxide. This more powerful solution works better than hydrogen peroxide for removing both surface stains and intrinsic stains.
How often should you whiten your teeth? These professional treatments should usually be done about once or twice a year. However, if you use store-bought teeth whitening, you might find yourself constantly involved in whitening your teeth.
Professional Home Whitening
In some cases, your dentist may offer at-home teeth whitening with the products they recommend, prescribe, or provide to you. They also supervise your teeth whitening, ensuring that you get the right amount of teeth whitening agent and that your gums are protected adequately.
Professional at-home whitening typically uses carbamide peroxide at a strength of between 10% and 38%. Follow your dentist’s instructions, which might include using the product for anywhere from 2 to 10 hours each day. This type of whitening may take between 6 and 24 days, depending on the product used and the condition of your teeth.
Another option that only your dentist can provide is laser teeth whitening. The dentist applies a gel and then uses a special laser to activate the gel. It’s a quick 45-minute procedure that you can schedule at your convenience.
Is Teeth Whitening Safe?
Although teeth whitening is generally safe, it’s always best to discuss any of these options with your dentist. The most important part of nearly any dental decision is to make sure you are choosing an option that is not only safe in general but safe for your teeth specifically. Only a professional can accurately assess whether this is true for you.
One thing to remember is that products with abrasives can damage the enamel of your teeth. Other products may come with additional risks. Use your dentist as your professional advisor when you are deciding between store-bought vs. professional teeth whitening. They know all the alternatives and can guide you to the choice best suited to you and your teeth.
How Effective Is Teeth Whitening?
Teeth whitening can have a mild or a dramatic effect, depending on the type of whitening process you choose and how long you stick with it. OTC teeth whitening will have a noticeable effect in most cases. However, in-office teeth whitening offers the quickest effect. Your dentist can also keep your teeth and gums safe throughout the in-office teeth whitening process.
How well teeth whitening works also depends on the condition of your teeth before you try to whiten them. For example, if your teeth are yellow, teeth whitening might make them considerably whiter. However, if your teeth are more brownish, teeth whitening might not be as effective for you.
In most cases, professional teeth whitening takes a few 30-minute to 1-hour sessions. At the end of the course of treatment, your teeth could be much brighter, between three and eight shades, in fact. This difference would be hard to achieve with OTC teeth whitening products, and it might be less safe as well.
Cost of Teeth Whitening
Most people who choose at-home whitening with OTC products do so to save either money or time. Certainly, some of the store-bought whitening products are relatively expensive. The problem is that they take so much longer to work that you spend a lot of time whitening your teeth. Professional whitening is much faster, and most people find that the better results are worth the cost. After all, your time has value, too.
There’s another thing to consider here, too. If you use OTC teeth whitening that is not safe, or you don’t follow the directions exactly, you could damage your one and only set of natural teeth. This could come with higher costs to repair the damage or replace the teeth at some point.
Choosing the Right Dentist for Your Teeth Whitening Options
Choosing a dentist for teeth whitening is a critical step in getting the safe, effective dental care you need. At Alaska Dental Arts, we provide not only professional teeth whitening but a full range of dental services. Whether you want white teeth, need a filling, or need major dental work, our premier dental team is here to remove all barriers to cleaner, healthier teeth. We take many types of dental insurance and offer our dental savings plan to make keeping up with your dental needs easier.
We provide a luxury experience with many amenities and no judgment. We are here to make your life better and your teeth healthier and give you a beautiful, winning smile!
Are you looking for the best teeth whitening option for you? Talk it over with our dentists at Alaska Dental Arts!