Why Have Teeth Whitening Procedure In The Dentist Office?

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Valerie DeBenedette, Senior Medical Editor

Valerie DeBenedette is a science writer who specializes in keeping people informed about medicine and their health. She has more than 20 years of experience writing for newspapers, magazines, and websites and has written about most areas of medicine. For many years, she was a contributing writer to Cosmetic Dermatology and to Drug Topics, the leading pharmacy trade magazine. She also was a contributing editor to The Physician and Sportsmedicine for many years. She has written about most fields of medicine, including dermatology, sportsmedicine, ophthalmology, general surgery, orthopedics, and women's health; as well as public health policy and the pharmaceutical industry. In addition, she is the author of Caffeine, a book for young people. She is a member of the National Association of Science Writers.


November 07 2007

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Top 6 Reasons to Have Professional Teeth Whitening

You've looked in the mirror and realized that your teeth have become a bit, well, dingy. You'd like your teeth to be whiter and your smile to be brighter, but just how should you do this? What is the best way to whiten your teeth?

Although there are many so called "at home teeth whitening" products, the best way to get your teeth whiter is to visit a cosmetic dentist. Here are some reasons:

1. In addition to have a whiter teeth, you'll  get a good dental check up and have your teeth professionally cleaned. 

It would be a little silly to have your teeth whitened when you have some underlying problems like cavities or gingivitis. That would be like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Remember that you need to have your teeth free from plaque or tartar build-up before using any teeth whitening products.  Otherwise they won't be able  to  reach the enamel of your teeth and won't work well.

2. You will also have your mouth checked for oral cancer. 

If you haven't had a dental check up in more than a year, your dentist or the hygienist will inspect more than your teeth. He or she will conduct a complete examination of your mouth for early signs of cancer of the lips, gums, and tongue. This is important, especially if you've ever smoked or used smokeless tobacco.

3. Professional teeth whitening gives better results. 

Most at-home teeth bleaches and whitening systems can only whiten your teeth by a few shades. The most common ingredient in teeth whitening systems is carbamide peroxide. At-home products contain 10% carbamide peroxide. The professional teeth whitening systems that dentists use contain 15% to 35% carbamine peroxide.

With these professional teeth whitening systems, a cosmetic dentist first cleans your teeth with pumice and then puts a barrier over your gums to protect them. He or she then applies a peroxide gel to your teeth and leaves it on for 40 minutes.

Cosmetic dentists can also use laser teeth whitening systems. The dentist applies a whitening gel to your teeth and then directs a laser at the teeth. The laser activates the hydrogen peroxide in the gel.

4. Your dentist will tell you what you realistically can expect from teeth whitening procedure. 

There is a natural variability in the color of teeth. You can whiten your teeth by a few shades with an at-home teeth whitening product, or many shades if you have professional teeth whitening. But teeth come in various shades of white and off-white, and the amount of whitening that is possible with your teeth may not match your expectations. Your dentist can tell you what you can expect.

5. Professional teeth whitening is fast.

Most home whitening systems can take weeks and weeks of treatments to whiten your teeth. A professional teeth whitening can lighten teeth by up to eight shades in one session.

6. Professional teeth whitening is less likely to weaken your teeth, irritate your gums, or over-bleach your teeth.

Teeth whitening, whether done at home or in a dentist's office, can have some side effects. Your teeth will often become more sensitive to heat and cold. Usually, this heightened sensitivity fades in a few days.

You may also experience gum irritation. At-home bleaching products that use ill-fitting trays are more likely to irritate your gums than a professional teeth whitening at your dentist's office. Your dentist will use a tray that is much more likely to fit well and provides barriers that help protect your gums from the bleaching solutions.

It is also possible to over-bleach your teeth with at-home teeth whitening kits. This can cause discoloration and blotchiness.

So, all in all, it is a good idea to bypass the home teeth bleaching products and head to a cosmetic dentist for professional teeth whitening.