over-the-counter teeth whiteningIt’s the holiday season, and one of the more common questions we get at Dental Associates of West Michigan is: “What is the difference between bleaching your teeth at the dentist’s office and using an over-the-counter bleaching kit?” Everyone wants their smile to be nice and white, and no one wants to overpay for it, but there are things to consider before you bleach. In this blog we will go through the different types of teeth whitening treatments. 

Over-the-Counter Whitening Treatments

Over-the-counter solutions are very tempting for several reasons. First, they are less expensive. You see products like Crest Whitestrips everywhere in supermarkets and pharmacies. It’s simple enough to throw the box into your cart and then experiment with the treatment on your own time to see if it works for you. For some patients, it will work well enough to satisfy. 

Not every OTC whitening treatment is as safe as Crest Whitestrips, however. It’s hard to know what the strength of the bleaching agents is or how it might affect your teeth and gums. Some products have very weak chemistries and do not whiten satisfactorily at all. 

Often people will begin a treatment and forget to follow up with more treatments, so they do not get very good results. Also, if your teeth are crooked or chipped, you may not be able to get the perfect results you want from over-the-counter treatments. 

In-Office Teeth Whitening

In contrast, the teeth bleaching that is done at your doctor’s office is carefully controlled. The dental professional monitors the whitening treatment for your safety. The process is designed to be simple and customized to your mouth. With a tray whitening treatment, a custom tray is created that fits perfectly over your teeth and along the gumline. This is so the bleaching gel will not harm the gums. These trays can be used in the future. It’s easy to touch up the whitening if the results fade over time. 

If cost is the deciding factor, talk to your dentist about what your whitening options are and what they recommend. Your dentist will take into consideration the overall health of your teeth and gums, their current appearance in terms of both straightness and color, and your budget. The cost of tray whitening has come down over time, but if this is not affordable for you, your dentist will be able to recommend the best over-the-counter whitening treatment. 

At Dental Associates of West Michigan, we believe that it’s worth the extra cost to visit the dentist to get long-lasting, safe teeth-whitening results. You want your smile to be both beautiful and healthy if it’s to last a lifetime.