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Today, many people want a brighter smile and decide to whiten their teeth. This simple process is relatively inexpensive regardless of whether you go to your dentist for the service or use an in-home product, but which is right for you? 

How Tooth Whitening Works

There are two basic ways to whiten teeth, one that involves bleach and one that does not. A bleaching agent can change the color of your teeth, removing both surface and deep stains whereas a non-bleaching agent will only remove surface stains. Which option you choose will depend on the types of stains you have and how quickly you want the process to happen.

Professional Teeth Whitening

Working with a dentist is the safest and fastest way to whiten your teeth because the bleaching gel they use is stronger than those available for over-the-counter purchase. The process begins in the office but is completed in the comfort and convenience of your home. 

Tooth whitening requires two visits. During the first one, impressions are made of your teeth. These will be used to professionally create custom, clear plastic trays. At the second visit, the trays are checked for proper fit and adjusted if needed. Next, the bleaching gel is placed in the trays and then fitted over the teeth. At this time you are given instructions on how long to wear the trays to achieve the desired results.

Often, patients experience tooth color change from 5 to 8 shades lighter.

In-Home Tooth Whitening 

There are several in-home tooth whitening products on the market and they vary in cost and effectiveness. 

  • Teeth Whitening Trays. This is the most effective home whitening option. It is similar to the ones used in the dentist’s office but with two important differences. First, the trays are not customized to your teeth and can often rub, irritating your gums. If you have a smaller or larger mouth than the typical adult, these trays are often difficult to fit and keep in your mouth. Second, the bleaching gel is not as strong as that supplied by your dentist and therefore it will take longer to whiten your teeth. As a result, you may need to purchase several kits to achieve the desired effect. The whitening results will depend on the brand you purchase and the amount of time the trays are worn and is usually between 2 to 7 shades whiter teeth.  
  • Teeth Whitening Strips. These are clear strips with a whitening solution, usually hydrogen peroxide, that are applied to teeth once or twice a day. The biggest challenge of this option is that the strips often slip off the teeth due to saliva. In addition, the results are often splotchy, especially around the crevices of the teeth because the strips need to be in direct contact with them to be effective. The result may be a 2 to 4 shade whiter smile but the color won’t be consistent. 
  • Whitening Tooth Pastes and Rinses. These are the least effective but most popular in-home option for tooth whitening because of its convenience and low cost. There is no bleach and the best you can expect is up to two shades whiter teeth but the effects are often hard to notice. These products are best used as a supplement to other options rather than a replacement. 

Are you looking for a brighter smile? Let the experts at Petrone Family Dentistry help you achieve that goal. Our tooth whitening process begins with a custom tray made just for you, which is then coated with our special whitening gel. No matter what your teeth whitening needs, we can help you realize noticeable improvement. Contact us to learn more or request an appointment.