Everyone wants a bright and beautiful smile, and this has contributed to a rise in teeth-whitening products and services. In fact, statistics show that 37 million Americans used some form of tooth whitening in 2020 alone. While your dentist offers professional whitening services, you can easily find shelves full of at-home whitening products at your local Wal-Mart or Target, so is professional whitening really worth the extra cost? That depends on multiple factors, such as your budget and your desired results.
Here we take a closer look at the differences professional teeth whitening offers, as well as the benefits this professional treatment provides in contrast to those at-home teeth whitening options.
If you are unhappy with the current color of your teeth and smile, then tooth whitening offers a good solution, but which one should you choose? Learn why a professional whitening offers more benefits and, in many cases, a more comfortable alternative.
- Professional teeth whitening offers several benefits compared to at-home treatments, including higher effectiveness, faster results, personalized treatment, professional supervision, reduced sensitivity risk, longevity, and less messiness.
- Professional teeth whitening has a few downsides to consider, such as the higher cost, potential tooth sensitivity, temporary gum irritation, and the need for maintenance.
- The results of professional teeth whitening can last several months to a few years, depending on factors like oral hygiene, diet, lifestyle, genetics, and whether touch-up treatments are done.
- Before opting for professional whitening, it’s important to consider factors like dental health, tooth or gum sensitivity, dental restorations, lifestyle and habits, and budget.
- Consultation with a dentist can help determine the best whitening options based on individual circumstances, including budget, desired speed of results, and overall oral health.
How professional teeth whitening works
Professional teeth whitening is done by your dental team and typically involves many more steps than just simply throwing on some whitening strips and hoping for the best. When choosing professional teeth whitening, you can expect:
- Dental Examination: Before undergoing teeth whitening, your dentist will examine your teeth and oral health to ensure that you’re a suitable candidate for the treatment. They will check for any dental issues or conditions that might affect the whitening process.
- Cleaning: If necessary, your dentist will perform a thorough dental cleaning to remove any plaque, tartar, or surface stains from your teeth. This step ensures that the whitening agents can penetrate the enamel effectively.
- Protection: Your dentist will protect your gums, lips, and other soft tissues in your mouth by applying a barrier or using a protective gel. This shield helps prevent the bleaching agent from coming into contact with your gums and causing irritation.
- Application of the Whitening Agent: Your dentist will apply a professional-strength bleaching gel to the surfaces of your teeth. This gel usually contains hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide as the active ingredient. The bleaching agent breaks down stains and discoloration molecules within the tooth structure, making your teeth appear whiter.
- Activation: Depending on the specific method used, your dentist may use a specialized light, heat, or laser to activate the whitening agent. The activation helps accelerate the whitening process by enhancing the effectiveness of the bleaching agent.
- Monitoring and Reapplication: The whitening agent is usually left on your teeth for a specific amount of time, during which your dentist will monitor the progress and make any necessary adjustments. In some cases, the dentist may remove and reapply the whitening gel multiple times to achieve the desired results.
- Post-Treatment Care: Once the desired level of whitening is achieved, your dentist will remove the whitening gel, clean your teeth, and provide instructions for post-treatment care. They may recommend avoiding staining foods and beverages for a certain period and suggest using desensitizing agents or toothpaste if you experience sensitivity.
Benefits of professional teeth whitening
While at-home options for teeth whitening can provide results, professional teeth whitening offers several benefits compared to those at-home treatments.
Professional teeth whitening treatments use higher concentrations of whitening agents compared to over-the-counter products. This higher concentration allows for more effective and faster results. Professional treatments can often remove stubborn stains and discoloration that at-home treatments may struggle to address.
Speed of results
Professional teeth whitening often provides immediate and noticeable results. In just one or a few office visits, you can achieve a significant improvement in the whiteness and brightness of your teeth.
With professional teeth whitening, your dentist can customize the treatment to suit your specific needs. They will consider factors such as the current shade of your teeth, the desired level of whitening, and any dental concerns or sensitivities you may have. This personalized approach helps ensure optimal results and minimizes the risk of complications.
Undergoing teeth whitening in a dental office means that a trained dental professional performs the treatment. They have the knowledge, skills, and experience to carry out the procedure safely and effectively. The dentist can monitor your progress, adjust the treatment if necessary, and address any concerns or complications that may arise.
Reduced Sensitivity Risk
While teeth sensitivity can occur with any whitening treatment, professional teeth whitening conducted by a dentist minimizes the risk of sensitivity compared to some at-home treatments. Your dentist can use techniques to protect your gums and other sensitive tissues in your mouth during the procedure.
Professional teeth whitening treatments can offer longer-lasting results compared to at-home options. In addition, your dentist can provide you with after-care guidance that will help you maintain your brighter smile for longer.
With professional teeth whitening, the application of the whitening agent is done by a dental professional who has precise control over the process. Your dentist has the expertise to apply the gel evenly and accurately, ensuring that it is distributed only on the teeth and not on the surrounding tissues. This reduces the risk of gel spreading or dripping, making the procedure less messy.
Downsides of professional teeth whitening
While professional teeth whitening can be highly effective and safe, there are a few potential downsides to consider.
Professional teeth whitening treatments can be more expensive than at-home options. The cost varies depending on the location, dental practice, and the specific whitening technique used. Insurance may not cover cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening, so it’s important to inquire about the cost beforehand.
Teeth sensitivity is a common side effect of teeth whitening, and it can occur with both professional and at-home treatments. Some individuals may experience temporary sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures during or after the procedure. While the sensitivity typically subsides on its own, it can be uncomfortable for some people.
Although dental professionals take precautions to protect your gums during the procedure, some individuals may still experience minor gum irritation or sensitivity as a result of the whitening agent coming into contact with the gums. This is usually temporary and resolves on its own.
Not a permanent solution and maintenance is required
No form of teeth whitening, even professional, offers a permanent solution. Your lifestyle and habits will play a vital role in how long your new teeth whitening will last. However, there are things you can do to extend the life of your brighter smile, such as avoiding certain foods and beverages that can stain the teeth and following a quality oral hygiene routine.
Read more about Is Teeth Whitening Permanent?
How long do professional teeth whitening last?
In general, professional teeth whitening results can last anywhere from several months to a few years. However, it’s important to note that teeth whitening is not permanent, and how long your results last can be influenced by the following:
- Your oral hygiene routine
- Diet and lifestyle
- Whether you opt for touchup treatments
Factors to consider before opting for professional whitening
Before choosing any type of dental whitening solution, whether at-home options or professional, there are some essential factors to consider. These can include:
- Your current dental health
Existing tooth or gum sensitivity
- Current dental restorations (whitening does not affect these)
- Lifestyle and habits (what you eat and whether you use tobacco products)
- Your current budget and what you can afford
- Alternative options such as veneers or bonding
- Your current dental health
Finding the best whitening options for you
If you are hiding your smile because of tooth discoloration, teeth whitening treatments may provide the results you are looking for. Whether you choose to try at-home whitening options or visit your dentist for professional options depends on a number of factors including your budget, how quickly you want to see results, and your overall oral health. It may be beneficial to talk with your dentist to help you determine which whitening options are best for your situation.
Helping you achieve a beautiful and bright smile
At Soundview Family Dental, we understand the importance of a healthy, beautiful smile when it comes to overall health and individual self-confidence. Stains or discoloration can often leave you self-conscious and afraid to smile. Our team of dental professionals is here to help you achieve the beautiful, bright, and healthy smile you are looking for.
To learn more about your teeth whitening options, call (425) 434-5997 today to schedule an appointment.