At-Home Teeth Whitening vs Professional Teeth Whitening

by Kate Blair

Teeth undergo a lot of wear and tear, which means it is only natural that they will need a cosmetic tune-up now and then. Drinks like coffee and red wine can darken teeth over time, as can the build up of tartar. Luckily, there is no need to be self-conscious if your smile is becoming lackluster. In today’s marketplace, there are a multitude of options for tooth whitening. These options range from a professional whitening, to a number of at-home methods, which can be purchased from the drug store. Because of the delicate nature of the teeth-whitening process, it might be advisable to have it done professionally. Professionals can offer an arsenal of tools that are superior to most home options. A professional whitening will also ensure comfort and consistent, high quality whitening that products such as whitening strips simply cannot duplicate.

Superior equipment

The core component of most teeth whitening systems is peroxide bleach that is applied to the teeth, removing the external stains that have built up over time. Most over the counter systems contain bleach that is roughly 5% the strength of that of a dentist’s office. The greatest benefit of in-office whitening is that it takes place in a carefully moderated environment run by trained professionals. For this reason, a greater concentration of peroxide can be used there. Increased strength means increased effectiveness and efficiency—basically, less time spent in the chair. Generally, the peroxide is applied in several sessions over the course of one to two hours. Several professional systems utilize a heating lamp that helps to activate the bleaching gel. These treatments are typically referred to as "laser teeth whitening." The main difference between the in-office whitening systems is the components of the bleaching gels used. The benefit that these methods share is their focus on minimizing the discomfort that peroxide can cause.

Consistency and safety

All whitening systems provide a dental dam to protect the gums from the irritation of the peroxide. Over the counter systems generally contain a one-size-fits all dam, which can be inconsistent in its coverage. Another benefit of professional whitening is that custom dams are measured to fit individual mouths, resulting in more consistent coverage. Finally, a professional whitening session is prefaced by a routine dental exam, which will prevent further irritation caused by undiscovered cavities or cracks in the teeth. Over all, a visit to the dentist will ensure comfort. Bleaching is a delicate process that is best handled by professionals. Whether or not you intend to whiten professionally or at home, a free consultation with a local cosmetic dentist can be a good first step in assessing all your options.

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