Professional teeth whitening is a popular service offered at dental offices. Although an at-home teeth whitening kit may seem like the cheaper, more affordable option, professional teeth whitening has its benefits as well. When it comes to choosing which type of teeth whitening is best for you, there are several things to consider: time commitment, budget and pain tolerance are just a few examples. Whether you’re planning on getting professional teeth whitening at the dentist’s office or performing the treatment at home yourself, here’s everything you need to know about both types of whitening services.
What is Professional Teeth Whitening?
Professional teeth whitening is a teeth whitening procedure that uses a special solution and a high-intensity light to remove stains and discoloration from teeth. The process typically takes one hour and can be done in-office or in a dental hygienist’s office. It’s important to note that the term “professional” teeth whitening isn’t reserved for only dentists. Dentists, dental hygienists, orthodontists and other dental professionals can perform teeth whitening as well as sell products used in the procedure. Just like at-home teeth whitening, professional teeth whitening typically uses hydrogen peroxide as the bleaching agent. However, the type of hydrogen peroxide used in professional whitening is higher concentration than the type used in an at-home teeth whitening kit.
How Does Professional Teeth Whitening Work?
The dentist or dental hygienist will begin by cleaning your teeth and applying a protective coating (usually a gel). Next, you’ll get a rubber mouth guard and wear it for about 15 minutes while the dental professional applies the whitening gel to your teeth. After the coating is applied, the dentist or dental hygienist will use a special light (called a carbamide peroxide light) that sits near your head. The light activates the whitening gel, causing hydrogen peroxide to break down into water and oxygen. These molecules travel into your teeth and break down stains and discoloration.
What is At-Home Teeth Whitening?
Like professional teeth whitening, at-home teeth whitening uses a special solution and a high-intensity light to remove stains and discoloration from teeth. The main difference is that at-home teeth whitening is performed on your own. When choosing to whiten your teeth at home, it’s important to note that results aren’t as drastic as in professional teeth whitening. That’s because the amount of peroxide used in at-home teeth whitening is significantly less than what’s used in a dentist’s office. It’s also important to note that results vary person to person, with some experiencing very little change in their teeth’s appearance.
At-Home Teeth Whitening Kits
At-home teeth whitening kits come with everything you need to perform the teeth whitening procedure, including a special gel, mouth guard, teeth trays, a light, and instructions. You can buy teeth whitening kits in most drug stores or online. Like professional teeth whitening, the teeth whitening gel in at-home kits contains hydrogen peroxide. At-home teeth whitening kits also come with a light, but they don’t have a carbamide peroxide light. The light in at-home kits isn’t as strong as the light in a dental office, which can affect the effectiveness of the teeth whitening procedure.
Pros of Professional Teeth Whitening
The whitening procedure is quick: Since you’re coming in for an appointment, you won’t have to spend your entire afternoon in the dentist’s office. You can expect teeth whitening to take about one hour in the dentist’s office.
Whitening can last longer: Professional teeth whitening can last anywhere from five to 10 years, whereas at-home teeth whitening can last from six months to a year depending on the person.
You receive personalized attention: When you get teeth whitening at the dentist’s office, the dentist will pay special attention to your teeth. This is helpful because your dentist can examine and monitor your teeth for any signs of damage.
You receive anesthetic: Many dentists offer teeth whitening with anesthetic, which numbs the teeth for pain reduction.
Cons of Professional Teeth Whitening
Price: Teeth whitening in the dentist’s office can be pricey. Depending on which type of teeth whitening you choose, the price can range from $100 to $1,000.
Longer commitment: Most teeth whitening treatments require you to come back for a follow-up appointment after two weeks. This means you’ll have to set aside more time for teeth whitening than if you were to do it at home.
No control: Since teeth whitening is done at the dentist’s office, you don’t have control over the whitening process. This means you can’t control the level of whitening or the speed of the process.
Which Option Is Right for You?
When deciding between getting professional teeth whitening or at-home teeth whitening, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, think about the level of commitment you can handle. Do you have time to go back to the dentist’s office for a follow-up appointment? If so, then professional teeth whitening may be the best option for you. On the other hand, if you don’t have time to make another appointment, then at-home teeth whitening may be your best bet. You should also consider your budget when deciding between getting professional teeth whitening or at-home teeth whitening. While teeth whitening kits are much cheaper than professional teeth whitening, the difference in cost may not be worth the difference in effectiveness.
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