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Douglasville, GA 30135
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Teeth Whitening at Home or in the Office?

Teeth Whitening at Home or in the Office?

Who doesn’t want a sparkling smile?

Unfortunately, over time, coffee, tea, wine, and other foods discolor teeth. If your smile has lost its luster, a variety of teeth whitening techniques are available. Here’s what to consider:

Gum Problem Basics: Sore, Swollen, and Bleeding Gums

When you think about dental health, focus is likely to be on preventing cavities in your teeth. But it’s important to pay attention to your gums, too. Gums play a major role not only in your dental health, but in your overall well-being.
In many instances, swollen and bleeding gums are a sign of gum disease. However,  there are a number of other factors that could be causing your gum problems. Whatever the cause of sore, painful gums, there are steps you can take to minimize gum damage and disc…

Read the Gum Problem Basics: Sore, Swollen, and Bleeding Gums article

At-Home Teeth Whitening Products

You can buy many teeth whitening products to use at home, including:

  • Whitening rinses. Used like a mouthwash, these products contain whitening agents. They are easy to use — all you do is swirl the rinse around your mouth for a minute. Because the whitening agent is in contact with teeth for only a short time, rinses whiten teeth only gradually.
  • Gel strips. These strips are typically applied to teeth twice a day for a period of two weeks. Gel strips whiten teeth faster than rinses.
  • Whitening trays. Plastic trays filled with whitening gel fit over teeth like a tooth guard. These products whiten teeth fast. But because trays sold in at-home kits are not custom-made to fit your teeth, they can rub and irritate gums.

Are At-Home Whiteners Right for You?

“If your teeth and gums are in excellent condition, you may want to consider an [at-home] whitener,” says Kellee Cattleman Stanton, DDS, a dentist in private practice in Minnesota and spokesperson for the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. At-home whiteners are relatively inexpensive and easy to use. You can brighten your smile without making a dentist appointment.

But if your teeth or gums are sensitive, at-home whiteners may not be the best choice, since they can cause irritation. Whiteners should not be used by women who are pregnant or nursing. They also should not be used without a dentist’s supervision if you have gum problems or untreated tooth decay. If you have extensive fillings or crowns, it’s also wise to talk to your dentist before whitening your teeth using a store-bought kit.

If you decide to try an at-home whitener, follow package directions. Whiteners only work on natural enamel. “If you whiten your teeth too much, you can end up making your natural teeth whiter than neighboring crowns or composite fillings,” says Stanton. “Using whiteners too often, especially in combination with whitening tooth paste, can even turn teeth a little gray.”

In-Office Teeth Whitening Procedures

The most common in-office whitening procedure involves custom-made trays filled with bleaching solution that fit firmly over teeth. Because the procedure is supervised by your dentist, a stronger bleaching solution can be used than what’s found in home kits. Your dentist may recommend doing the procedure entirely in the office. In that case, a light or heat source may be used to speed up the whitening process. As an alternative, your dentist may fit you for custom-made whitening trays that can be used at home.

Is In-Office Whitening Right for You?

Tooth whitening done by your dentist is more expensive than using an over-the-counter whitening kit. In-office whitening typically costs between $300 and $500. Over-the-counter gel strips, in contrast, cost about $50.

But there are advantages to in-office whitening. Because bleaching solutions used by dentists are typically stronger than those in over-the-counter kits, you get results faster. Custom-made trays are less likely to rub and chafe. Your dentist can make sure that sensitive gums are not exposed to whitening agents. Desensitizers can also be applied before the procedure. Your dentist can also help judge the appropriate level of whitening, based on the natural color of your teeth and the color of any fillings or crowns you have.

Whether you choose an in-office or at-home kit, talk to your dentist about your options first.

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