If you’re searching for a whiter smile, your options are either professional teeth whitening or over-the-counter products. While there are some similarities between the two – both use peroxides, for example – there are several advantages to professional teeth whitening, including rapid results, whiter teeth, customization, professional administration and more.
1) Rapid Whitening Results After Your First Appointment
Over-the-counter products and professional teeth whitening both use peroxides to act on teeth stains. However, dentists use a high-concentration peroxide formula that delivers faster results. Further, some practices take their whitening methods a step further by using a dental laser to activate the whitener.
During laser whitening, a high-intensity light is aimed at the teeth following the application of the whitening agent, typically for an hour or so. The high-intensity light “excites” the peroxide and makes it more reactive with stains.
Research shows that laser whitening is effective. A 2021 study published in Photodiagnosis and Photodynamic Therapy found that hydrogen peroxide combined with an LED laser could whiten teeth by several shades after a single treatment. Results vary from patient to patient, but they are achieved much faster than with at-home treatment, which may take a few weeks or months to work.
2) Deeper, More Effective Teeth Whitening
Professional teeth whitening isn’t just faster – it produces better results as well. There are a couple of reasons for this. Since dentists have access to high-concentration peroxides and laser light technology, they can neutralize a wider range of stains – including intrinsic stains.
Intrinsic stains emerge beneath the enamel and may be caused by certain antibiotics (doxycycline, tetracycline and ciprofloxacin are examples), chemotherapy, tooth damage, age, or just plain genetics.
Extrinsic stains, by contrast, are typically caused by foods like red wine, coffee, and pasta sauces. Acidic foods may erode tooth enamel, and this can cause stains, as well as smoking.
Professional teeth whitening can address all extrinsic and many intrinsic causes of tooth discoloration. In this way, your dentist can produce longer-lasting results with your teeth whitening.
3) Precision Treatment That Can Be Customized
Before starting teeth whitening treatments, your dentist will first examine your teeth and determine the best way to improve your smile. For example, if some of your teeth are more noticeably stained, your dentist can focus more on those areas.
Some people also have misaligned or crowded teeth, and these teeth may be impossible to reach with whitening strips or other over-the-counter products.
Professional teeth whitening can be spot-targeted, so it can be used in patients who have misaligned or crowded teeth. In other words, dentists can customize treatment based on what they see during an oral examination.
4) Cleaning and Whitening During a Single Procedure
During an in-office whitening appointment, your dentist will clean your teeth prior to placing any whitening compound. This removes any plaque or bacteria lingering on the tooth’s surface, preparing your teeth for the whitening procedure.
This is more thorough than what brushing and flossing can accomplish at home, so if your teeth need a good cleaning, professional whitening offers two-for-one value.
5) Added Protection for the Gums
Bleaching compounds can be harsh on the gums and the mouth’s other soft tissues. If they come in contact with those tissues, minor burns or irritation may result.
At-home treatment exposes people to this risk, even with lower-concentration peroxides. Some people are also prone to tooth sensitivity during tooth whitening, and this may be difficult to manage without professional help.
During in-office whitening, your dentist will take steps to protect your gums and teeth from any adverse effects of treatment. For instance, your dental care team will place a gingival barrier gel prior to treatment, shielding the gums from contact with whitening agent. Precision applicators are used to deliver whitening agents exactly where they are needed, reducing the likelihood of contacting the gums.
A reputable dentist can also address tooth sensitivity during, and following, whitening treatment. Potassium nitrate – the active ingredient in sensitivity toothpastes – blocks pain signals traveling from the teeth. For severe or persistent sensitivity, dentists may apply a fluoride gel or varnish. These can provide pain relief for an extended period.
6) Teeth Whitening is Provided by Dental Professionals
Professional teeth whitening is administered by trained dental professionals, which provides the best results in the safest manner. The dentist will assess the exact shade and color of your teeth and determine what is causing the staining or discoloration.
The dentist can then set expectations for treatment so you’ll know what to expect and how long it will take to achieve the desired results.
With at-home whitening treatments, you are on your own. If the results aren’t there, it may not be clear if there are problems with the product itself, or how it is being used. This could take months to sort out and, in the end, you may have to consult with a dentist anyway to get the results you’re looking for.
Professional Teeth Whitening Offers Superior Results
Professional teeth whitening can improve your smile’s appearance and, by extension, your self-confidence. For many people, this confidence boost is well worth the effort.
The question is whether at-home whitening or professional teeth whitening is a better option for you? Dentists can provide faster, more complete results, and they can adjust your teeth whitening treatments as needed to deal with stubborn stains or to address sensitivity.
If a bright, white smile is important to you, professional teeth whitening offers many advantages that over-the-counter products cannot match.