Everyone loves a healthy smile. Most of us have a sense of how our smile’s whiteness (or lack thereof) affects our confidence and connectedness. With something so essential, it’s no surprise that so many teeth whitening options have come about in the last few years, from whitening products to holistic concoctions to over-the-counter treatments. If you’re looking for safe and effective ways to give yourself a brighter smile, there are a few considerations you’ll want to make before you find the perfect product.
To help you get started, we’ve put together a quick guide on some of the major choices you’ll want to consider when it comes to whitening your teeth.
Should I consult with my dentist first?
Any teeth whitening regimen can benefit from expert advice, and a trusted dentist is the perfect place to start. A good dentist will have your best interests at heart and will be able to offer recommendations that are not only geared toward the results you want but also with an eye toward supporting your dental health.
How much time and effort am I willing to commit?
Whitening treatment options can vary widely with regard to how much time and effort you can expect to put in. If you’re willing to make teeth whitening part of your daily or twice-daily routine for certain periods of time, then you may be able to look into at-home treatments such as half-hour whitening strips or overnight trays. If you prefer a more hands-off approach with more long-lasting results, then an in-office whitening treatment, such as an hour-long Zoom whitening treatment, might be right for you.
Should I opt for an at-home or in-office treatment?
You’ll eventually need to decide whether to try whitening at home, or teeth whitening at the dentist. This is one of the biggest questions to consider when exploring teeth whitening options. When it comes to at-home vs. in-office treatments, there are pros and cons to each. Here’s a quick overview:
At-Home Treatments: These are whitening treatments that can typically be purchased over the counter, online, or by prescription. At-home treatments are administered by the user (you) without the oversight of a professional.
- At-home treatments are often less expensive than professional treatments.
- This type of treatment can be performed on your schedule, a plus for individuals who have difficulty scheduling or keeping appointments.
- At-home treatments tend to be more labor-intensive than in-office treatments since the burden of application falls on the user.
- Generally speaking, the results of at-home whitening treatments don’t last as long as more professional-grade treatments.
- Since at-home treatments are by definition performed at home, a lack of professional training and oversight can lead to more errors, such as leaving the treatment on for too much or too little time or applying materials incorrectly.
In-Office Treatments: These refer to any teeth whitening procedures that are performed in a dental office, typically by a dentist or certified dental assistant. They are typically not available to consumers over the counter or for at-home use.
- In-office treatments are performed by trained professionals, ensuring well-informed recommendations and accurate application.
- More options are available in dental offices, including higher-grade treatments.
- In-office treatments tend to have longer-lasting results.
- In-office treatments may require longer individual treatment times, though typically with less frequency than at-home alternatives.
- Some in-office treatments may be more expensive than at-home treatments, although this is not always the case.
Is hydrogen peroxide better than alternative treatments?
Hydrogen peroxide has long been acknowledged as an effective teeth whitening ingredient. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), while there are a number of natural alternative treatments – such as coconut oil, charcoal, etc. – research is often scant on such products, and some alternative treatments may even have adverse effects. If opting for hydrogen peroxide, you may want to consider in-office whitening, as over-the-counter treatments tend to max out at 10% hydrogen peroxide, while dentists can apply hydrogen peroxide whitening treatments that are up to 40% hydrogen peroxide.
Ultimately, when searching for the perfect teeth whitening treatment for you, it’s important to arm yourself with the right information. Be honest about your goals, bandwidth, and resources – and be sure to check with your dentist – and you’ll be on your way to a brighter smile in no time.