Professional vs. At-Home Whitening
One thing most patients have in common is that they all want a beautiful smile. It’s how we communicate with the world and greet new opportunities. How better to do that than with a bright, white smile? But exactly how we get that white smile is up for debate. With so many options via your dental office, down to your grocery store, finding which option is best for you can be confusing.
How does whitening work? Most bleaching solutions use a peroxide base. When this peroxide comes in contact with the tooth, it has a whitening effect. The whitening is then achieved by either using a high concentration of peroxide over a short period of time (these are professional whitening options), or by using a low concentration of peroxide over a longer period of time (these are at-home whitening options).
Professional options include:
–Laser Whitening (A bleach gel is applied to the teeth and a laser is focused on the gel to create an intense whitening effect): Takes approximately 1 hour, 35% peroxide
–Custom Bleach Trays (Impressions of your teeth are taken and custom trays are made to fit your teeth perfectly. These trays are then filled with a bleach gel and worn for a fixed amount of time to whiten the teeth): Can take anywhere from 1-2 weeks, 15-30% peroxide
At-Home options include:
–Whitening Strips (Bleach coated strips are applied to the teeth and left on for 30 minutes- 1 hour): Takes at least 2 weeks to achieve results, ~14% peroxide
–Peroxide/Whitening Rinses (Rinse daily with approved rinses for 30 seconds): Can take 2-6 weeks to see results, 3-10% peroxide
Based on a 2011 study, overnight use of custom bleach trays gave the best and most lasting results. Another study in 2012 concluded that there was no significant difference between at-home and professional outcomes, nor was there a significant color relapse result between either of them. And lastly, a study between 1998 and 2011 gave the recommendation that the safest and most effective treatment of choice should be a dentist-supervised bleach tray option.
As a patient, here’s the take-away message: All of the options work, but the best option is the professionally custom-made bleach trays, where the bleaching process is monitored by your dentist.
Why is that?
Your dentist will evaluate several things that have nothing to do with whitening. They will check your sensitivity levels, your amount of gum recession, assess any restorations you have on your front teeth (which do NOT whiten, FYI) and they will also discuss your whitening needs, such as the time-frame you’re looking to whiten in and what your desired results are. With custom trays, you’ll have the safest option because the bleach solution won’t end up on your gum tissue, which can cause chemical burns. You will be able to whiten at your own pace, reducing sensitivity risks and side effects. And finally, you’ll have a lifetime whitening solution, because you can touch up your smile whenever you want.
If whitening and brightening your smile is on your to-do list, make an appointment today at J.B. Dental to evaluate your options to find what is right for you.
Paige Tscherpel, RDH, BSDH
Consulted Sources Include: