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What’s Better: At-Home or In-Office Whitening?

Everybody wants a whiter smile. Numerous studies show that whiter smiles are associated with friendliness and attractiveness and even more success in your career. Like many people, you may not have been blessed with naturally white teeth, and certain habits like drinking coffee or using tobacco can increase their dullness.

While there are many over-the-counter whitening products available, the option of getting your teeth whitened by a dentist offers many advantages. In this blog, Dr. Thomas Sokoly of Sokoly Dental explains the truth about at-home versus in-office tooth whitening.

Time to get whiter teeth

While over-the-counter (OTC) tooth whitening kits do produce results, they take a lot longer to see results, if any at all. Most of the OTC whitening kits require you to apply the whitening strips, or use the trays, every day for two weeks. If the first round of two weeks doesn’t work, you may have to do another round. Tooth whitening trays are worn for up to two hours a day or even overnight. This makes for a big time commitment.

By comparison, professional (dentist applied) tooth whitening gets the whitening right the first time, so you’re less likely to have to do multiple rounds. While you may have to take trays home to continue whitening your teeth for a couple of weeks, you’ll still get better results.

Make a real difference

There’s simply no comparison between the results you get from a dentist compared to using OTC kits. For one thing, a dentist can go several shades lighter than home kits, which is significant especially if you have moderate-to-severe staining.

The dentist makes note of your tooth color before beginning, as well as the desired shade you hope to achieve. He polishes your teeth before applying the bleaching agent. The bleaching agent used by dentists is much stronger than what’s available in OTC products.

Dentists also customize the trays to the shape of your mouth, rather than just being strips or one-size-fits-all trays that you place over your teeth. This means you’re less likely to have the gum sensitivity that’s often associated with teeth whitening. In addition, dentists use a special UV light or laser to “cure” the bleaching agent, which makes it work more effectively.

Many dentists, including Dr. Sokoly, offer an at-home bleaching kit, with trays to be used each night. These are different from OTC kits because they still use a stronger bleaching agent, and the trays are custom-made to fit your mouth.

Although tooth whitening can work very well to whiten your teeth, it’s important to note that it’s possible to go too bright. If you bleach your teeth too white, they may not match surrounding dental work such as crowns, or they can even make your other teeth look a bit gray. Dr. Sokoly advises you if you’re at this risk.

While most people can safely have whitening done, it may not be a good choice for you if you have multiple restorations, such as crowns or bridges. In addition, it’s not recommended for children under 16 or pregnant or breastfeeding women.

There’s no question about it: in-office tooth whitening and dental take-home kits are more effective than OTC kits. If you would like to learn more or to make an appointment, call Dr. Thomas Sokoly at 202-280-2428, or send us a message online.

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