Teeth whitening is a trend that has become increasingly popular over the last few decades due to a combination of factors. Most of us want our teeth to look their best, but many people, on occasion, consider teeth whitening at home. A do-it-yourself (DIY) approach is something that, on the surface, may seem like a better option, but it’s essential to know the differences between at-home teeth whitening and professional teeth whitening so you know which is best.
What is the Best Approach to Teeth Whitening?
The best method for you will depend on different factors, including:
- Your ideal shade
There are many options for DIY teeth whitening and professional teeth whitening. Typically, they fall into one of three categories:
Whitening toothpaste works to remove the stains on your teeth and is the gentlest approach, which is great for people who have sensitive teeth. Whitening toothpaste doesn’t have adverse side effects because of the gentle polishing action, rather than bleaching chemicals.
However, it will not whiten teeth as noticeably as other products, and can also take repeated use for whitening toothpaste to show results, taking weeks or even months to achieve the desired effect.
At-Home Teeth Whitening Kits
These kits can be purchased from a dentist or over the counter and include various types of kits such as rinses, brushes, lights, trays, and whitening strips.
Your dentist may make a special tray to fit your upper and lower teeth, and these custom trays involve squeezing the gel into the trays and wearing them for short periods of time, which are more effective than over-the-counter kits, but the downside of wearing these for too long can mean the peroxide, a natural bleaching agent that breaks down the molecules that cause stains, irritates your teeth or gums.
Professional Teeth Whitening
This is done in a dental office and is more beneficial than the previous two alternatives due to an increase in peroxide. This can change the color of your teeth quicker but is also acutely observed by dental professionals, bringing greater peace of mind.
In-office whitening is also quick and can take approximately an hour. The process involves covering the gum tissues with a protective gel or thin sheet of rubber, and a special laser or light is used to get superior results.
The Risks of DIY Teeth Whitening
Using DIY teeth whitening kits may seem more convenient; however, it can pose numerous risks, including:
Gum and Tooth Sensitivity
Chemicals used in teeth whitening can result in greater sensitivity, particularly in individuals with already sensitive teeth, and can be particularly uncomfortable.
Gum Irritation and Burns
Over-the-counter whitening kits can result in burns on the gums and cause damage to the tooth enamel, and, over time, can lead to complications such as overly sensitive teeth, increased tooth decay, yellow-stained teeth, and more.
Uneven Whitening and White Spots on the Gums
This can arise from excessive use. Additionally, because the strips may not reach the crevices in between the teeth, this can result in uneven whitening.
Abrasion of Tooth Enamel or Dentin
This can result in long-term damage to the teeth. Additionally, research has shown that DIY kits can lead to several ailments such as mouth infections, toothache, gum shrinking, nerve damage, and even stomach problems.
The Benefits of Professional Teeth Whitening
Professional teeth whitening offers many benefits over DIY kits, including:
- Faster and more noticeable results compared to at-home kits because of the higher concentration of bleaching agents used in professional treatments, leading to more effective and longer-lasting whitening.
- The process is safer as it is carried out under the strict supervision of a dental professional who takes every precaution to protect the oral tissues and gums from potential harm.
- The results are long-lasting and, depending on the patient’s oral health and dental hygiene, can last for several months and up to a year, whereas the results from DIY kits can typically last for a couple of weeks or even less!
- Cost-effectiveness in the long run, due to the longer-lasting results and the need for fewer treatments compared to at-home kits.
- Professional whitening allows for customization and the initial examination addresses any oral health issues, providing the overall best results, guaranteeing an exact match to existing dental work, and preventing unevenness in color.
While many people may consider DIY teeth whitening, professional teeth whitening provides a whole host of benefits. It’s always important to remember that while there are several over-the-counter options, it’s best to conduct any dental work under the supervision of an experienced professional.
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