Professional Teeth Whitening vs. Over-the-Counter Products

Patient smiling into a handheld mirror

The first thing people notice when you smile is your teeth. Yellow or discolored teeth are not a pleasant sight and may lead you to conceal them, causing feelings of humiliation when you try to smile. That can ultimately be a big blow to your confidence and self-esteem. But you can achieve a bright, sparkling smile with some effort. 

The good news is there are tons of ways to clean up the stubborn stains on your teeth. You have probably seen or heard of teeth whitening products. They offer an affordable and convenient way to achieve our cosmetic goals.

There are many over-the-counter (OTC) options available claiming to whiten teeth, and it can be overwhelming to choose that one magic product that will give you that smile you desire. Unfortunately, many of these options do not produce the result most people expect out of them.

By contrast, a teeth whitening procedure in a dental office is a far superior alternative to teeth whitening at home. A dentist will conduct an intensive examination of the teeth and choose the right method specifically customized for your needs.

There are many arguments about the best teeth whitening procedure, and people hold different opinions. To help make the decision easier for you, let's discuss some facts about professional teeth whitening and over-the-counter whitening products.

Professional Teeth Whitening 

In-house or in-office teeth cleaning procedure usually takes about an hour and a half. The two whitening agents used in the process are hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide. Earlier, professional teeth cleaning would require soaking your teeth in a hydrogen peroxide solution for hours to get rid of discoloration, but they would only remove surface stains. The familiarity with the technology has made the procedure more durable and faster.

In-house methods like zoom teeth whitening have become fairly popular. The dentist uses 25 percent hydrogen peroxide in the form of a gel. With the help of a syringe, they apply the gel to your teeth. The dentist then uses a plasma light that activates the bleaching agents to start the process. 

Many people have reservations about professionals using the light in terms of side effects. But fortunately, the side effects are usually temporary and transient. 

What Happens During a Professional Teeth Whitening Procedure?

Sitting on a chair for an in-house teeth cleaning makes many people nervous. It is not as unsettling as it sounds; instead, it is painless and harmless. The dentist will show you the tooth shade chart to help you decide the color you want to choose for the clean-up process.

To start the cleaning procedure, the dentist will carry out the following steps:

  • With the help of a tool, your dentist will remove the plaque hiding in your teeth.
  • To keep your gums, tongue, and cheeks safe from contact with the whitening agents, the dentist covers them with tools and barriers.
  • The whitening agent is then rubbed on your teeth for about an hour. In the meantime, light is also used to make the procedure effective.
  • Lastly, your dentist will use fluoride paste to regulate the sensitivity issue that the patient experiences after the procedure. 

Knowing that the detailed cleaning procedure can only happen in a dental office, the next concern might be the total cost of the process. The in-house method is comparatively more costly than over-the-counter products, but it has numerous other benefits that offset the extra cost you pay.

Benefits of Professional Teeth Whitening 

The following are some of the reasons why professional teeth whitening is a much more effective option than buying store-bought whitening kits: 

Better Results

Ask yourself, will you be able to carry out the process of teeth whitening like a professional at home? Unfortunately, you can only get rid of the surface stains like those of coffee and tea. 

A dentist uses stronger bleaching gels to clean up stains on a molecular level. The higher concentration of the cleaning solution penetrates deeper below the teeth’s surface, giving you fast and effective results that no at-home kit can deliver.

As a result, you get the best teeth whitening results in the form of a more long-lasting, pearly white smile which you may not have been able to achieve otherwise.

Supervision by a Professional 

When you visit a dentist for teeth whitening, they will thoroughly examine your mouth and administer the entire treatment under close supervision. They may discuss your flossing and brushing habits and guide you on several matters, from choosing whitening shades to after-process precautions. 

The dentist will administer the treatment under their professional guidance, helping you get the desired results safely and effectively, which you can hardly achieve with home teeth whitening products.

Reduced Gum and Tooth Sensitivity 

Earlier, gum and tooth sensitivity was the biggest concern of patients. As dental technology evolved, it has become easier for dentists to manage sensitivity issues. Teeth whitening kits bought from a store will not cater to your tooth sensitivity issues, and there might be potential side effects of which you may not be aware.

On the other hand, a professional will carefully prevent and reduce sensitivity issues with the appropriate precautions and the help of different tools. 

Customized Procedure

Another benefit only possible in a professional teeth whitening process is that your dentist provides a highly customized experience. 

Unlike generic whitening trays available in the stores, a dentist will give you custom-made trays specifically designed for your mouth and teeth after an intensive assessment. That results in the whitening gel working evenly across all your teeth and producing optimal results.

Over the Counter Products 

As mentioned, many products on the market promise to whiten your teeth. They come in the form of crest whitening strips, charcoal powder, or whitening toothpaste with abrasive ingredients. They are easy to follow, affordable, and give instant results. You may consider these kits the best way to whiten teeth and be tempted to add them to your cart after reading their fancy taglines and tall claims. 

On the downside, they typically give sub-optimal results, while some may lead to tooth sensitivity or gum irritation.

While they may be affordable and give quicker results compared to your dentist's procedure, OTC products found at your local drugstore are not customized according to your unique teeth and smile. A dentist provides you with customized trays to take home with you that he sets up according to the alignment and shape of your teeth.

Moreover, home whitening products do not remove intrinsic stains present on the inner portion of your tooth due to some illness or another underlying health issue. For intrinsic discoloration, professional teeth whitening is a more appropriate choice.

Professional Teeth Whitening at Orange Grove Family Dentistry 

At Orange Grove Family Dentistry, we provide professional teeth whitening services and other aesthetic procedures to give you a smile you deserve. Our team of highly experienced dental professionals led by Dr. Kyle Nishimura will help you understand oral health and customize the process according to your unique needs. 

Book an appointment and learn more about our personalized treatment plans!

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