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Teeth Whitening – What Do I Need to Know?

teeth whiteningOne of the first impressions people have when they meet you is your smile. If you feel less confident because of the color of your teeth, you might be considering teeth whitening services or products as a great way to bring back the shine to your smile!

The ordinary wear and tear of life can cause your teeth to become discolored – even if you brush and floss regularly! Everyday things like coffee, red wine, dark fruits and veggies and tobacco wear down the enamel on your teeth and cause unsightly staining. With age, some people develop yellowed or darkened teeth, often determined by genetic heredity.

What’s the difference between at-home and dental office teeth whiteners?

There are many options out there to help you make your teeth whiter and give you a brighter smile.

Much like a home DIY project, there are resources out there that let consumers do their own work, but professional-grade is universally considered stronger and more effective.

There are easy over-the-counter kits at your local drug store. In general, they only contain 6% peroxide, while professional-grade teeth whitening products can contain as much as 35% peroxide. 

In addition, because of their extra strength, professional-grade teeth whiteners are more efficient and effective, requiring far fewer applications.

What are some common at-home products?

Stroll down the aisle at your neighborhood drug store, and you’ll be presented with a bewildering array of products that you can use at home to help brighten your teeth!

Whitening toothpaste has ingredients that are designed to remove surface stains while you brush and have the gradual effect of brightening your teeth over time. A downside to these, though, is that the same ingredients that work to brighten also cause some people to get more sensitive gums and teeth.

Like whitening toothpaste, whitening rinses are easy to use and will brighten your smile over a period of time. They also help to prevent new stains from developing if you use them regularly.

Gel strips are the most commonly used product. Gel strips are applied to the teeth and left in place for up to 2 hours depending on the strength of the product. They require multiple applications, often between 10 to 20, in order to see sustained and effective teeth whitening, but their ease of use appeals to many consumers.

Finally, whitening trays are commonly available over-the-counter. These products provide a tray that you fill with a gel and then fit over your teeth. They work far more quickly than whitening toothpastes and rinses, as well as gel strips, but since they are mass-produced the trays are not custom fit to your mouth. They can irritate and rub your gums, so make sure you carefully follow the directions on the package.

How about procedures I can have done at my dentist’s office?

The most common treatment at a dentist’s office to brighten your smile is the use of custom-fit trays. Plus, as mentioned above, dentists are able to use more effective and stronger products in the office than are available over-the-counter.

When you visit a dentist for teeth whitening, they’ll mold a tray to fit your teeth perfectly, fill the tray with a professional-strength bleaching solution, then fit the tray firmly over your teeth.

Often a halogen light or a heat source are used to speed up the process. This accelerates the whitening agent used by the dentist and results in much faster treatment.

Treatment at the dentist’s office are more effective, have fewer side effects like irritated gums, and are the quickest way to achieve a brighter smile.

Dental ImagingWhich is right for me?

In the end, the best solution for you is the one that you are most comfortable with. At-home whiteners are relatively cheap and easy to use, but if you have sensitive gums or teeth you may want to use professional dental services to avoid irritation.

The dentist has the ability to use stronger solutions than those available over-the-counter, so he/she can make your teeth whiter much more quickly. 

Convenience is also a factor to consider. You can use at-home solutions whenever you’d like in the convenience of your home. But also remember that most in-office treatments that your dentist provides can be completed over a lunch-break appointment.

In addition to convenience, length of treatment plays a key role. When you schedule that lunch-break appointment with your dentist it may very well be the only treatment you’ll need, while over-the-counter products require multiple treatments over a prolonged period of time.

Many consumers are concerned about budget, but it’s important to remember that a consultation with your dentist about teeth whitening options is always free. Your dentist knows your oral health and can give recommendations about services offered as well as appropriate at-home solutions.

No need to wait – get the brighter smile you crave by talking to your dentist today! Give us a call at Lockhart Dentistry today at (317) 849-9715 or request an appointment today.


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  • 8202 Clearvista Parkway, Suite 4C, Indianapolis, IN 46256


  • Gerald B.
    “Approximately 4:45 p.m., a crown came completely out. I immediately called Dr. Lockhart’s office to see if he was available. He was so 15 minutes later; I walked into his office. I was seen immediately; the tooth was prepped and recemented. Less than a half-hour after the tooth came out, it was back in, and I was on my way to the Pacer game. Great job!”
    Gerald B.
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    “I am never disappointed with Dr. Lockhart’s service. I have been seeing him for my dental care for a few years now and it seems that my dental health has only improved since I began seeing him. I value how straight forward and honest he is with his patients. I would recommend him to everyone!”
    Jessica C.
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    “Everyone is professional and so friendly. They take the time to explain the procedures, and make you feel very comfortable in a very relaxed atmosphere. If you don’t like going to a dentist for whatever reason, I suggest you try Dr. Lockhart!”
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    “At the doctor’s recommendation, an old silver filling was replaced with enamel. This accomplished two things. It provided an opportunity to assess the health of the tooth-as it is a deep and old filling. And secondly it improved the visual of the mouth by having a filling material which blends with the tooth color. Though no further care is needed at this time, it is valuable to know what may be necessary going forward which eliminates the dreaded element of surprise in dental care. Dr. Lockhart and his staff create a comfortable, caring environment which puts the patient at ease while undergoing what might otherwise be an anxiety filled procedure. All aspects of the office visit were professional, efficient and most important of all – painless.”
    Karen P.
  • Joseph O.
    “Great environment, courteous friendly and professional staff. I look forward to my dental visits because Danelle is welcoming and focused on my dental health and Dr Lockhart is always attentive and clear in his care and explanations.”
    Joseph O.
  • Heather B.
    “Above and beyond! Our son broke off a tooth on A Tuesday evening. Dr. Lockhart and his staff are not scheduled to be in the office on Wednesdays. We nevertheless called the emergency number he provided first thing Wednesday morning. Dr. Lockhart promptly returned our call and we made arrangements to meet at the office. Dr. Lockhart was very thorough with his examination. He and McKenzie took great care of our son and got him fixed up. Always the highest level of care and customer service. THANK YOU!”
    Heather B.
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    “I highly recommend Lockhart Dentistry to all my friends. After 30 years I finally made the decision to get crowns and braces. In less then 6 months, my treatment is over and I can smile with confidence. Thank you Dr. Lockhart, and your wonderful staff. I truly wonder why I waited so long!”
    Anne M.
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    “Lockhart Dentistry is a step above all others. Great enthusiastic staff that genuinely enjoy their jobs. Ingrid goes out of her way to make sure each visit is enjoyable and she is very thorough in explaining what she is doing throughout my examination. Every appointment I have had has been on schedule, very little time spent waiting in lobby, which is very important to me from a work and family perspective. I like the fact that they have email and text reminders too!!!”
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    “Best Long Term Dental Care. My wife and I have been patients of Dr. Lockhart for over 20 years. From routine bi-annual cleanings and checkups to implants, crowns and partial bridges that I’ve had through the years; Dr. Lockhart and his team have always provided the very best of care.”
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    "Highly recommend! I’ve been. With Dr Lockhart 25+ years….since he was at 71st and Shadeland. I had some serious issues that Dr Lockhart and his staff have helped me overcome. I can’t say enough great things about them (I even got my husband to join me there). Thank you so much to Lockhart Dentistry."
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    Routine 6 month cleaning and check. Have been a patient of Lockhart Dentistry since Doc came to Indianapolis. The entire staff is friendly and caring and works hard to make sure you are comfortable no matter what service is being provided.
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  • Nicole B.
    "Great place, people are friendly and very nice. Dr. Lockhart always has an alternative or solution to my issues. I love Danielle! I always ask for her to do my cleaning. My teeth always feel extra clean."
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