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The Basics of Teeth Whitening

whitened teeth

Tooth Whitening With Trays

Bought over the counter at a drugstore or from a dentist, tray-based tooth whitening kits revolve around filling a tray similar to a mouth guard with a gel solution that contains a peroxide-based bleaching agent. The tray is worn as directed, usually for two hours or more a day or even all night for up to a month or longer, depending on how much discoloration is present and how much whitening is desired. We offer a course for business owners who are not dentists, but would like to offer teeth whitening.

In-Office Teeth Whitening

Bleaching procedures performed in the dental office are the fastest method of teeth whitening. In the dental office, a whitening product is directly applied to teeth. This product may be used along with heat, special lights or a laser to enhance results, which can be visible after a single session of 30 minutes to one hour. With several appointments, dramatic results are possible. On the downside, this is the most expensive way to whiten teeth.

How Long Are The Effects Of Teeth Whitening Visible?

It should be understood that no method of teeth whitening is permanent. People expose their teeth to staining substances daily in many cases, causing the whiteness to fade. For some, this can happen in as little as a month. It makes sense to avoid food and drink that cause the worst staining so that results can remain visible for a year or longer, perhaps with touch ups. The degree of whiteness achieved can vary from one person to another depending on factors like how stained the teeth are at the start to what type of bleaching program is used.

Whitening At Home vs. Dentist-Supervised Whitening

Having teeth whitened at a dentist’s office varies from having them whitened at home in a number of ways, including the following:

Bleaching agent strength. OTC and at-home products usually have lower-strength solutions than those used at the dentist’s office. At-home products usually use 10 to 22 percent peroxide while those used in dental offices often contain a product with a concentration of 15 to 43 percent peroxide.

Trays. Dentist-supervised at-home bleaching products are applied with custom-made mouthpieces. The dentist takes an impression so that the trays fit precisely to give maximum benefit by providing maximum contact with the whitening gel. The trays also limit contact of the gel with sensitive gum tissue. OTC products also involve a tray, but these are one-size-fits-none trays that don’t fit anyone very well. This can lead to irritation of the gums and other soft tissue as the bleaching agent gets to areas it should not. When performed in office, bleaching agents are carefully applied directly to the teeth being whitened.

Protective measures. When whitening is performed in a dental office, a gel or rubber shield is put over the gums before treatment so that gums and other parts of the mouth are protected from the bleaching solutions effects. OTC products do not come with this kind of protection.

Costs. OTC products are the least expensive way to whiten teeth while in-office teeth whitening is the most expensive.

Supervision. With supervised at-home treatments and in-office procedures, an oral exam is performed and your medical history is taken into consideration. The dentist can even help you determine if bleaching is a good course of action in your case considering the kind of staining you have and how many restorations you have that won’t respond to bleaching. A dentist can also match your type of staining with the right treatment, if appropriate at all, to reduce the staining. The dentist will also follow-up to make sure you’re performing at-home procedures correctly, to make sure any trays involved fit right and to make sure gums are not being irritated. A general progress check is also usually performed. When you use OTC products, you have no help or support.


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