Lighthouse Family Dentistry
37 Old Solomons Island Road
Annapolis, MD 21401
What Is Tooth Whitening?
There are several ways to whiten teeth and several ways not to. There are many types of whitening treatments on the market to choose from. The choices are very different in their methods, materials and time it takes to see results. Whitening choices can be broken down into various types:
- professional or over-the-counter
- in-office or take-home
- tray system or tray-less
Professional or Over-the-Counter
Over-the-counter (OTC) whitening products are sold everywhere – in the supermarket, on TV and in magazines and even on the internet. These products range from special toothpaste, floss, and mouth rinses to white paint-on stuff to make-your-own bleaching tray systems. The common factor for over-the-counter whitening systems is that they are cheaper than the professional treatments by your dentist and often claim to be just as effective. They are cheaper, but they are not as effective (if at all).
Professional whitening treatments are better and more effective than OTC products. Your dentist will know what type of system will work for you. The dentist has the knowledge and systems available to get the best results possible in the least amount of time. The dentist also will make sure the treatment is safe and comfortable, and will not damage your teeth, gums and overall health.
In-office treatments are the best and quickest. The dentist can use equipment and materials that can’t be used at home. The dentist can monitor the results and treat accordingly until the desired outcome is achieved.
Take-home tray systems are less expensive than the one-hour in-office whitening treatment, but they require wearing fitted plastic trays filled with whitening gel for 30-60 minutes a day for 2-3 weeks. Results will vary according to the time the trays are worn daily and to the concentration of the whitening gel. Tray systems (especially the professionally provided ones) can be very effective with excellent results in a reasonable amount of time. Beware of self-fitted OTC tray systems that can leak the bleaching gel into your mouth.
One advantage of a tray system is that several months down the road you can do a touch-up treatment as the whitening fades. No whitening is permanent, but some types last longer than others (1-3 years). Usually, only a minor touch-up tray treatment is necessary to get back to prior whiteness.
Whitening choices make a brighter, whiter smile available to almost everyone. See your family dentist to determine what system is best for you.