There are a number of teeth whitening kits available at your local drug store. Price and convenience are a draw for many people. But when you compare the risks and results of a kit versus using a cosmetic dentist, it's likely that you'll be much happier with the results from your dentist. Here is how the whitening process differs between the two approaches.
Teeth Whitening By a Professional
Your dentist will first clean the plaque and tartar off of your teeth, because the whitening agent won't come into contact with the tooth enamel otherwise. They will also address any signs of enamel pitting, which is the start of tooth decay.
Plastic barriers are then put in place in your mouth to cover your lips, cheeks and gums. The bleach in the whitening agent can irritate these delicate tissues.
The dentist then carefully applies the whitening agent to each tooth. This material is inert until it is exposed to a special light. The chemistry of the agent changes when exposed to the light to become a bleaching agent on the enamel. The dentist will have you sit for several minutes with the light on your teeth until they have achieved the desired effect. Then they will have you rinse your mouth out carefully to remove any trace of the chemical.
All of the preparations and precautions in your dentist's office are to protect you and give you the best results from the whitening effort. The whitening agent used is effective enough that many people need only one session.
Home Whitening Kits
The chemical agent used in these kits is far less potent than that used in the dentist's office so it will be safe for home use. The kits must also satisfy the needs of the most number of people, so they are sold as a one-size-fits-all solution for teeth whitening. Some of the issues you may experience with these kits include:
- Spotty results on your teeth where tartar and plaque prevent the whitening agent from being in contact with the tooth enamel.
- You can have a painful experience if the chemical contacts an area of pitting or decay on a tooth.
- Your cheeks, gums and lips could be irritated by the whitening agent.
- If your kit uses a tray placed against your teeth, the tray will be one size and may not sit in your mouth comfortably.
- The whitening agent may not be strong enough to bleach out stains from food or smoking.
- You may need to repeat the process several times until you can see any lightening of your tooth color.
When you consider the potential pain and irritation of your teeth and soft tissues when using a home kit, you may be less motivated to try them out. The value is also questionable if you have to use several kits to get close to the results you would with one session at your dentist's office. If having a bright, white smile is important to you, research the use of these home kits versus using your local dentist and make sure you choose the right solution for you.
To learn more, contact a cosmetic dentist like David Jackson, DDS.