Teeth whitening dilemma: Going to your dentist vs. Doing it yourself
If you’ve been wanting to whiten your teeth by yourself, then you’re probably familiar with various over-the-counter whitening products available out there. The most effective ones use either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide whitening gel to help remove deep tooth stains. This eliminates the yellowness within teeth and gradually turns them white and bright. Here is a list of some more common and most effective options available to you:
- Whitening strips directly apply bleaching gel against your teeth. They work very well because they allow the gel to sit against teeth surfaces for long periods of time. Be sure to apply the strips evenly onto your teeth surfaces, otherwise you could end up with yellow spots.
- Pain-on brushes allow you to directly apply whitening gel wherever need. However you must pay attention to keep the area dry so that saliva doesn’t contaminate it.
- Bleaching mouthwashes typically contain baking soda and peroxide solution. They are quite effective when used over time. Make sure to allow the mouthwash to sit on your teeth for a while and don’t rinse it off too quickly.
- Whitening toothpastes work by removing teeth surface stains.
Pros of using over-the-counter teeth whitening products
Lets look at the advantages that using over-the-counter teeth whitening products offer as compared to dentist treatments:
Whiter teeth for a fraction of what dentists charge
Dentist whitening options are typically expensive and usually set you back a few hundred bucks. On the other hand, over-the-counter whitening products are much more affordable. On top of that, going to the dentist means you’ll probably need a dental cleaning and possibly other unexpected dental treatment. Keep in mind that dentists won’t whiten your teeth until you’ve addressed your dental cleaning and cavities first. This can really run up your costs, especially if you don;t have dental insurance to cover your checkup and dental cleaning.
Results can easily be duplicated with over-the-counter whitening products
No matter how white your teeth become after bleaching them, they slowly turn yellower over time. Many food items that we consume cause our teeth to turn yellow:
- Cigarette and tobacco products
- Coffee and tea
- Red wine
- Sodas and colas
- Many spices and food flavors
You must modify your diet to best maintain whitening results over time. But regardless, you will require a touch-up every several months or so. However, teeth whitening touch-ups can be quite costly, especially if you plan on your dentist doing it for you every single time. Discovering an effective combination of over-the-counter whitening products can be a much more affordable long-term solution for maintaining whiter teeth.
There are less issues with post-operative tooth sensitivity when using over-the-counter whitening products
Most whitening products that your dentist uses are very strong. This can result in temporary teeth sensitivity or damage to your gum tissue. Professional bleaching gels used by dentists are typically 2 to 3 times stronger than over-the-counter ones. Sometimes this highly concentrated gel accidentally oozes onto your gum tissues during whitening treatment. This can burn your gums and irritate them for several days or even weeks. Additionally, you might develop teeth sensitivity which could last a few days, weeks or even longer.
On the other hand, there is minimal pain and sensitivity associated with using over-the-counter whitening products. The whitening gel is much weaker and can’t damage your gums or cause serious teeth sensitivity. These treatments are much simpler to use and you can’t really damage your teeth or gums unless you really wanted to.
NEXT >> Deciding on going to the dentist for teeth whitening
Pros of in-office dentist whitening
How to Decide?
Answer the following questions:
- Do you want your teeth as white as possible? A 10 out of 10?
- Do you want whiter teeth quick? Like within a few days?
- Do you have real sensitive teeth?
- Have you NOT had a dental cleaning in over 6 months?
- Do you have fillings or crowns on your front teeth? The ones that require whitening?
- Do you have colored stains or white chalky spots on your teeth?
- Have you used whitening gels or custom trays in the past but were disappointed with the results?
- Are your teeth very crooked?
If you answered “yes” to most of the above questions then it is best to go to a dentist for a whitening. You may not end up getting the results you want if you do it by yourself.
If you answered “no” to most of the above questions then you’re your a good candidate for do it yourself whitening at home. Plan on spending a few hours for several days to get the results you want.
If you really want to get the whitest teeth possible then you should consider seeing your dentist for a professional whitening. With over-the-counter products you may not be able to realize much of a difference and may be left disappointed. So if you are shooting for the stars then consider seeing your dentist for the best results. If you end up not being happy with the results you can always talk to them about other options.
- Consider extending the whitening for a bit longer if you’re not too sensitive already. Another 15 to 20 minutes could give you the results you’ve been looking for.
- See if they have a policy where you can obtain a second whitening procedure a few days later to boost the results if one round doesn’t get the job done
- Ask to see if they can make you take home trays as well so you can keep continuing the treatment on your own time for improved results
There are many items that you should avoid in order to best maintain the results.
- Smoking and tobacco use
- Wines, especially red wine
- Most colas and other sodas
- Food colors
If you want your tooth whitening results to last for a long time you need to avoid these things. So if you are planning on smoking a pack a day or drinking coffee all day long, then maybe you shouldn’t waste your money on an in-office whitening after all.
Helpful tip – Drinking through a straw actually works to help reduce the darkening effect of these food products. You may look a little odd sipping your hot coffee through a straw but this will help minimize tooth exposure to caffeine and helps better maintain your whitening results over time.
NEXT >> Best Teeth Whitening Solution: In-Office Dentist Bleaching
Best Teeth Whitening Solution: Bleaching Trays or Whitening Strips
How to decide if I am a good teeth whitening candidate or not?
To determine if you are a good teeth whitening candidate answer the following questions:
- Do you want Hollywood white teeth?
- Are your teeth very sensitive to hot and especially to cold?
- Do you have fillings or crowns on the front teeth?
- Are your teeth grayish or pearl colored?
- Do you have permanent stains, brown or chalky colored, which are located inside the teeth?
- Do you have plaque and tartar covering your teeth?
- Has it been a long time since you had a dental cleaning?
- Do you have any unfinished cavities or suffer from untreated gum disease?
- Do you have crooked teeth? To the point that it is hard to apply the whitening gel evenly on the teeth surfaces?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions then you have to address some issues before whitening your teeth. You’re not a good teeth whitening candidate until these issues have been addressed. Talk to your dentist to discuss a plan how to approach your whitening correctly. Otherwise you might end up with some unexpected surprises along the way!
If you answered “no” to all of the above questions then you are a good teeth whitening candidate. You can use whitening strips along with whitening mouthwash and toothpaste for best at-home results. Or consider going to a dentist for an in-office whitening treatment or custom bleaching trays.
Final thought on teeth whitening candidate
Make sure you are a good teeth whitening candidate before using the more advanced treatment options. Keep in mind that the initial effects of a good teeth whitening typically last for a few months. If you start to see the effects wearing off you may have to go back for a touch-up treatment. There is no guarantee as to how long the initial whitening results will last. To better maintain the whiter teeth over time try using whitening toothpaste and mouthwashes. If you want even whiter teeth then consider using either custom take-home trays or whitening strips every few months or weeks to better sustain the results. How often one you will require a touch-up ultimately comes down to how white you expect your teeth to remain over time.
NEXT >> Good Teeth Whitening Candidate
Bad Teeth Whitening Candidate