Teeth whitening has never been so accessible. With all the various teeth whitening kits and procedures on offer, just how do you know what’s the best method for you? They all promise to enhance your pearly whites, yet differ in price and method. Some rely on the dentist professionally performing the procedure, while others are a sold over-the-counter DIY job leaving no room for error. Here are dental whitening procedures explained to help you make an informed choice:

AT THE DENTIST

External Professional Bleaching – External whitening is a fast and effective way to whiten teeth. It’s also great for sensitive teeth as the procedure is closely monitored by a dentist. It involves applying a highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide gel onto teeth exterior. A laser is often used in conjunction with the gel to accelerate and amplify the tooth whitening process for enhanced results.

Internal Professional Bleaching –Internal staining can discolour teeth from the inside out, so this procedure is often required if the inside of a tooth is the actual cause of discolouration. It’s also commonly administered when a tooth has undergone endodontic therapy (root canal). Essentially, a dentist will drill a hole into the affected tooth and insert a bleaching agent directly inside the tooth. Bleach is left inside the tooth for a short period of time before it’s removed and the hole is filled.

AT-HOME TREATMENT

Over-the-Counter (OTC) – Whitening treatments can be purchased over-the-counter at pharmacies, beauticians or the local supermarket. The main benefit here is the cost. However, the concentration of the whitening agent is generally much weaker (10 to 15 per cent hydrogen peroxide gel), which means results are not on par with professional whitening methods performed by a dentist - or may take significantly longer to achieve. Also, the whitening trays themselves are often a one-size-fits-all approach.

Professional Custom Fitted Trays – Your dentist can cast impressions of your teeth to create a laboratory fabricated customised plastic tray for you to take home so you can complete the tooth whitening process yourself. These trays are designed to hold bleaching gel correctly in place over the teeth while avoiding the gum area. That’s why they’re considered to be a superior at-home style treatment since your dentist can also determine what type of whitening gel concentration is best suited to your teeth.

Is whitening for me?

If your teeth have lost their natural lustre and appear discoloured, stained or yellowed, then whitening should be an avenue to consider. Whatever whitening method you decide to choose, it’s best to consult your dentist first to ensure all of your cavities are filled and your gums are healthy candidates for whitening product use.

Overall, having your teeth whitening procedure executed at the dentist not only is the fastest method but a premium way to achieve the best results. Although over-the-counter methods purchased from pharmacies and supermarkets are cheaper alternatives, the customers who choose to use them may not be suitable candidates for teeth whitening. Another drawback is not having a professional present to supervise the procedure. The tray provided may not cover the teeth sufficiently, so therefore, less than desired results are often achieved.

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Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

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