Teeth whitening is a cosmetic dental procedure that uses peroxide-based bleaching agents designed to lighten the shade of your teeth. As the active ingredient breaks down, oxygen acts on the tooth enamel, creating the whitening effect.
There are many teeth whitening options available today and this can make it difficult to choose the right one for you. There are a few differences between professional teeth whitening at your dental office and the at-home options, and pros and cons of each.
What Are the Active Ingredients in Whitening Products?
All whitening products contain a peroxide solution. The strength of this peroxide content determines how strong the whitening agent will be - while a mild whitening agent may have as little as 10% peroxide, a much stronger teeth whitener might contain as much as 40% peroxide solution.
The mildest whiteners are whitening strips and other over-the-counter whitening products from stores as they have the lowest concentration of peroxide. Take-home whitening trays and other whitening agents from your dentist are much stronger.
In-Office Teeth Whitening
In-office whitening provides an immediate transformation to your smile, and the results tend to be better because your dentist uses higher-concentration bleaching gels.
Because in-office whitening is performed by a trained dental professional, it is also generally a safe and reliable procedure. Dentists will not provide whitening to patients who do not pass a basic oral health screening.
If you choose to whiten your teeth at the dentist's office, the procedure is simple and non-invasive. You can even relax and listen to music while your dentist removes stains to lighten your smile.
At-Home Teeth Whitening
At-home teeth whitening is a do-it-yourself alternative that typically costs less than in-office teeth whitening available at your dentist’s office. The best part? You can do it from the comfort of your own home.
Most patients notice a difference in 10 to 14 days, and the full results will appear at the end of your treatment period. But because at-home whitening products have lower concentrations of bleaching gels, they rarely provide the same degree of whitening that you would get from an in-office treatment.
If you do opt for the at-home option, try to find one available through your dentist. Most dentists who offer in-office options also offer an at-home version, which involves creating a whitening tray custom-fitted to your smile.
If you want to lighten your teeth at home, avoid over-the-counter products. Drug store whitening kits don't have the strength that professional-grade whitening provides so patients often won't achieve the results they're looking for. These whitening kits can also irritate gums and soft tissue because they aren't customized to fit your mouth.