With a lot of teeth whitening options available to the public, it can be rather confusing trying to determine what method is best for you. At-home tools tend to be more affordable teeth whitening methods, but will they produce the desired results? Professional teeth whitening options are more expensive, but they also tend to offer dramatically whiter results. So, how do you know which one is right for you?
Options for Teeth Whitening At Home
There are many teeth whitening options that you can buy at the store and use at home. These methods tend to use a lower concentration of bleaching solution than professional methods, but they are also much more affordable.
Whitening Rinses: These rinses for teeth whitening at home tend to be the most gradual. The whitening agent is only in contact with your teeth for 30 seconds to a minute, and these rinses are very easy to use. All you have to do is swirl the rinse around in your mouth for the directed amount of time and then spit it out. That’s it. These whitening mouthwashes are particularly good for preventing new stains from forming.
Whitening Toothpaste: Whitening toothpaste is an excellent option for affordable teeth whitening for those who want to remove light stains over time. However, whitening toothpaste can potentially cause tooth sensitivity. If this is the case for you, you may want to try whitening toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth, such as Sensodyne Whitening Toothpaste or Colgate Sensitive Whitening.
Gel Strips: Whitening gel strips work a little faster than the aforementioned teeth whitening options. The strips are placed on your teeth once a day for a set amount of time—anywhere from 10 minutes to two hours, depending on the product’s directions. You may need to continue this process for up to 20 days; but, within a month, there tends to be a noticeable difference.
Whitening Trays: Whitening trays fit over your teeth and are filled with a whitening gel. These work quickly but are not custom-made to fit your teeth, so they can irritate your gums. Make sure you follow the directions carefully to minimize discomfort.
Whitening Pen + LED Light Kit: This type of teeth whitening system utilizes a teeth whitening pen to “paint” the whitening gel onto your upper and lower teeth. You then place a guard over your teeth to prevent your lips from touching the gel. Finally, you place the light in your mouth for 15-30 minutes to accelerate the teeth whitening process.
Professional Teeth Whitening Options
Professional teeth whitening methods are usually quite a bit stronger and more effective than at-home options. The most common teeth whitening process dentists offer involves creating custom-made trays for your mouth that fit snugly against your teeth, minimizing the discomfort often found with similar at-home counterparts. This procedure is typically done in-office and usually produces the most dramatic results.
Some dentists offer a more involved in-office teeth whitening procedure. First, the dentist applies a protective layer to the gums, preventing the whitening gel from coming into contact with your teeth (minimizing sensitivity as much as possible). Then, he or she places the whitening gel on the teeth. The dentist may or may not choose to use a special light to speed up the process. Without the light, noticeable results may require multiple visits. With it, the process typically only takes one visit, and your teeth will usually be 5-8 shades whiter.
Professional Teeth Whitening At-Home: The Middle Ground
Some dentists give patients the option to use the professional teeth whitening trays and take them home. This process generally takes a little longer but usually has similar results due to the strength of the bleaching solution.
The Best Teeth Whitening Method for You
Deciding on the best teeth whitening method for you depends on your unique dental situation. If your teeth and gums are in good condition, then at-home, affordable teeth whitening options may better for you than the intense whitening found in professional teeth whitening methods. You may only need a rinse and/or whitening toothpaste to maintain your pearly smile or give it a little boost. If you have more noticeable stains, you may want to consider gel strips, at-home trays, or professional teeth whitening. The best way to decide which option is best for you is to talk to your dentist about a plan for whitening your specific smile.