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Dentist Whitening vs At-Home Whitening: What’s Better For Your Teeth?

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Most people love the idea of having pearl-white teeth, but perhaps balk at the idea of having to spend a long time at the dentist or assume that any type of professional tooth whitening will be very expensive. They might have even heard about laser treatment for tooth whitening and assumed it would be invasive. So they might turn instead to at-home tooth whitening ideas in order to lighten the shades of their teeth.

Teeth Whitening

But which option is best for your teeth? That’s really one of the first things you should find out before starting to whiten; there’s no point in having bright white teeth if they’re then not functioning like they should. So here’s a guide to the most common teeth whitening procedures and their pros and cons.

Laser whitening

This works by placing a bleaching agent onto the teeth and ‘activating’ it with a laser. Before doing so, your dentist will place protection over your gums.

Pros: Fast (it only takes about an hour); very effective in lightening teeth; extremely safe for teeth and gums; your dentist will be on hand to assist you throughout the procedure.

Cons: Is more costly than DIY alternatives; needs to be done at a dentist’s office rather than at home.

Professional whitening treatments

These treatments begin in the dentist office. Your dentist will use a specially custom made tray to protect your teeth as the procedure begins. After that, you’ll take these trays home and will whiten your teeth regularly between dentist appointments.

Pros: Effective; designed to cause as little tooth sensitivity as possible with the use of desensitizers like ACP.

Cons: This treatment is sometimes offered by unlicensed vendors like beauty salons, which poses a risk. Make sure that you’re only getting this treatment from your dentist, otherwise your gums and teeth are at risk of permanent damage. Also, this treatment takes more time and effort than laser treatment does, which may not suit some people.

At-home whitening treatments

These include things like whitening strips and paint-on whiteners. You may have heard of whitening toothpaste too, but it doesn’t actually make your teeth lighter, it simply removes staining.

Pros: Usually much cheaper than any other treatment; can be effective for temporary whiteness.

Cons: These products don’t last nearly as long as dentist treatments do, because they often contain a much lower concentration of bleach. some of the products on the market contain enough acidic solution to erode away your tooth enamel if used too much; if you use the products incorrectly, you could damage your gums. Not everyone is a candidate for whitening so this decision should not be made without the guidance of your dentist.

No whitening treatment will last longer than a few months to years, but some are still more effective than others. Going to your dentist is guaranteed to get your teeth a lighter shade of white, and will save you money in the long run. You can also take other steps to ensure your teeth remain as white as possible, including avoid smoking and red wine, brushing your teeth twice a day, and make regular appointments with your dentist.

The most effective whitening is often a combination of in office and at home whitening.

For more information, contact the Centenary Dental team today!


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Dr. Stacey Stein
A graduate from the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Toronto, Dr. Stacy Stein provides personalized care to each patient by explaining the risks and benefits of different treatment options in an honest way, and involves patients in their own care. With a focus on preventative, paediatrics, restorative, prosthodontics, and endodontics, she loves working with patients of all ages.