Teeth Whitening – What Do I Need to Know?

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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.

Which 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) 449-8050 or request an appointment today.

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Lockhart Dentistry
8202 Clearvista Parkway, Suite 4C
Indianapolis, IN 46256
Phone: (317) 849-9715
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