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Over-the-counter Teeth Whitening vs. Professional Whitening: What are the Real Facts?

January 16, 2016

Filed under: Teeth Whitening — Tags: , , — nawrockidmdteam @ 7:04 pm

A quick look at the oral health at the grocery store or local pharmacy can be daunting. Nearly every product claims to whiten teeth. Do they work? Do you have to visit the dentist to obtain white teeth or can it be done at home? At Orange Park dentist Matthew Nawrocki DMD, MS, our blog is a great way to educate the public about oral health topics. Today we would like to discuss teeth whitening. We hope you enjoy!

Can Your Teeth be Whitened?

Most teeth can be whitened. Over time our pearly whites can darken for a number of reasons. Normal everyday wear and tear, certain drinks and foods, and tobacco use are common reasons that teeth become yellowed over time.

There have been many polls asking people if they though their teeth were white enough. The overwhelming majority of people state that they would like whiter teeth. Most of these people could obtain whiter shades if desired. Some teeth, however, cannot be whitened. Some shades of grey are challenging to whiten and some teeth that show staining from childhood antibiotic use are resistant. The majority of the rest of us could have whiter teeth with surprisingly little effort.

How to Whiten

Over-the-counter whitening can come in a number of variants. Toothpastes, strips, gels, and mouth rinses are all examples. Professional whitening, by contrast, starts with a trip to the dentist. The dentist will make custom impressions of the teeth. From there they will create models of the teeth. Using those models the dentist will create custom clear thin soft trays (pictured above) that fit exactly over the teeth. Whitening gel is then placed into the trays and worn for a specified period of time. The results are long lasting and often just small touch-ups are required in the future.

Why Over-the-Counter Whitening?

The main reason that could be argued for over-the-counter (OTC) whitening is cost. Some of the OTC products are extremely inexpensive. The other main benefit of OTC whitening is the fact that a dentist visit is not required. There are a myriad of choices at the grocery store or pharmacy.

Why Professional Whitening?

If the cost and dental visit were to be ignored, there are a number of important reasons to consider professional whitening. First, as stated above professional whitening uses custom trays. These trays ensure that an even coat of material is used across the teeth. The stock trays that come with many OTC systems result in uneven application of gel, which often ends in uneven results.

The second major advantage of the professional whitening systems is that the concentration of the gel is generally significantly higher. This results in better results in a much smaller time frame.

Another benefit of professional whitening is the professional counsel that accompanies. This can mean better results and avoidance of potential pitfalls. For example, crowns and large tooth colored fillings do not whiten like teeth. Many people undergo whitening procedures only to find that the results are variations in the shade of the teeth compared to the crown, veneer, or filling. The dentist can advise accordingly and ensure more even results. In addition, the dentist can counsel regarding potential sensitivity, optimal ending shade, etc.

In summary, if you desire mildly whiter teeth with little to no effort, this country’s supermarkets and pharmacies are your oyster. Many of these products have the same ingredients as the professional products. If you want predictable and noticeable results, however, a visit to your dentist could result in total satisfaction.

Feel free to contact us at any time with questions by clicking here or calling (904)602-8396.

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