Many people wonder about the difference between at-home and professional teeth whitening. With so many over-the-counter teeth whitening products promising professional-grade results, why even bother to go to a dentist? Actually, there are several key differences between at-home and professional approaches that affect the way people experience tooth whitening. Knowing these differences will help you choose the approach that’s right for you.
1) Bleaching agent
It is important to know that not all store-bought teeth whitening products have a bleaching agent in them. Whitening toothpastes for example have stain-fighting chemical agents in them, but no bleaching agent. Be sure to read all product labels carefully. To achieve a noticeably whiter smile (especially if you have very yellow teeth or dark stains) you need to use a product containing a bleaching agent, such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.
Professional teeth whitening always involves the use of a bleaching agent. Moreover, the bleaching agents used in in-office bleaching are more powerful than the bleaching agents found in over-the-counter products―up to 280% more concentrated.
In-office bleaching is more expensive than at-home teeth whitening; aside from paying for a product you are paying the dentist for her or his time and expertise.
In-office bleaching is typically done over the course of 2 or 3 appointments. During appointments, the bleaching agent is in contact with the teeth for 10 to 40 minutes. Because dentists use a highly concentrated bleaching agent, results are seen quickly. Unless you maintain the in-office work with at-home whitening, the results fade after about 6 months. With at-home teeth whitening alone, it takes 1 to 2 months before a noticeably whiter smile is achieved.
The store-bought products that people use to whiten their teeth are as generic as you get. These systems do not take individual differences in teeth color or oral history into account. In contrast, with professional teeth whitening, the dentist does a full evaluation of your teeth and oral health. According to factors like tooth shade, existing restorations, and areas of enamel erosion, the dentist will choose the whitening agent and approach that’s best for you. Also, with professional whitening, the whitening tray used is custom-fitted, making it much more effective than the one-size-fits-all whitening tray purchased at the pharmacy.
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