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The Benefits of Professional Teeth Whitening Compared to Over-the-Counter Approaches

Looking for a fresher smile? Life happens. Wine, coffee, smoking — even good old-fashioned age — can stain our teeth and take its toll. Polishing your teeth so they retain their original healthy white gleam can do wonders for your smile. Teeth whitening may be just the ticket to a healthier, younger-looking and more beautiful you.

But what’s the difference between professional teeth whitening you can get at a cosmetic dentistry appointment at our Cincinnati office and the off-the-shelf products purchased at drugstores?

We’re glad you asked — the difference is profound and significant. Let’s take a look at what you can get through a professional teeth whitening compared to do-it-yourself kits.

Amount of Whitening

Both approaches to teeth whitening use peroxide-based bleaching agents. The difference is how much. Over-the-counter approaches will contain anywhere from 3%-20% peroxide in their formulas. A cosmetic dentist will use 15%-45% peroxide in their whitening agents.

A Dentist’s Approach to Teeth Whitening

Your dentist not only uses a stronger teeth whitening agent, but they also use heat, light, or a combination of the two to speed up and intensify the process. They can do a more thorough job by getting into all surfaces of the teeth. Most professional teeth whitenings are done over several appointments. A dentist does more detail whitening with results that are more thorough and significant.

A professional teeth whitening uses a custom-made “tray” to hold the whitening gel in contact with the teeth. This prevents contact with the gum tissue. The tray is thin and flexible. It gently rests over the teeth, forming a seal along the gum line. The tray has small reservoirs that hold the hydrogen peroxide gel on the fronts of each tooth to be whitened. Each tray is custom-made to each patient so it matches the unique shape of your teeth. We specially make each tray using a special machine in our Cincinnati office.

With a professional teeth whitening from a dentist, you don’t have to worry about inconsistencies because they work with the unique shape of your mouth to ensure all areas of your teeth are whitened.

At Home Teeth Whitening Systems

That isn’t to say that at home kits for teeth whitening aren’t effective — they just don’t do as thorough of a job. You can purchase strips or gels that can be applied to your teeth with a brush or a thin strip, usually once or twice a day for 10 to 14 days. Results are more subtle.

You can also use a tray based at home whitening option. This involves a mouth-guard like tray that is filled with the whitening agent and placed over the teeth for several hours a day. You can either purchase these kits over the counter or have one custom made by your dentist. This works a little better than the gel but does not have the attention to detail you’d get with a professional teeth whitening from a cosmetic dentist.

You can also use a whitening toothpaste that works like any regular toothpaste. Whitening toothpastes contain chemicals or polishing agents that help scrub stains from teeth. They tend to make teeth a little brighter but not nearly as bright as the other over the counter options or what you’d get from a professional teeth whitening.

A Word of Caution About Any Teeth Whitening

Not all teeth are ideal candidates for teeth whitening. People with lots of crowns or bonding tend not to get great results. You might have problems with consistency if you have brown teeth — yellow teeth tend to fare better. For gray or purple teeth, whitening might not work very well at all. That’s the other benefit of a professional teeth whitening — a dentist can make a professional assessment of how well your teeth would work with teeth whitening and make individual recommendations that might be more appropriate for your smile and shade color of teeth.

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