Over the past 20 years, the popularity of teeth whitening has exploded. In a society that places great emphasis on appearance, the demand for brighter, whiter smiles has made teeth bleaching one of the most popular dental procedures.
Currently, three fundamental tooth-whitening systems are in use: professional in-office procedures, professionally – dispensed home-use whiteners and lastly, over-the-counter products.
In-office tooth whitening – power whitening
Procedures require the use of relatively high levels of hydrogen peroxide, ranging from 15% to 40%, and some type of accelerator light or heat.
The advantages are patient compliance and immediate visible results. In-office power whitening is a well-tolerated and safe cosmetic procedure.
The potential disadvantages are the cost and increased risk of sensitivity. The treatment is usually more costly than the take-home systems because of chair time, application of gingival dam or gingival paint-on barrier products, and monitoring of patients by dental professionals. Patients with a history of moderate to severe tooth sensitivity may not be the most appropriate candidates but sensitivity can be managed, especially with the variety of products now available.
The in-office approach is also recommended for patients in need of close monitoring due to clinical conditions such as extensive gum recession, deep unrestored abfraction lesions, and single-tooth endodontic discoloration.
Professionally supervised at-home teeth whitening using custom fitting trays
Tray bleaching uses a low concentration of whitening agent applied to the teeth via custom-fabricated trays worn at night or during the day for at least 2 weeks that contain 10% to 35% carbamide peroxide gel or 2% to 10% hydrogen peroxide.
The advantages of this method are the lower cost to patients than in-office whitening and the fact that it has the most scientific evidence supporting its effectiveness.
The main disadvantage is patient compliance to obtain maximum results. If the patient has a lot of recession, then an in-office treatment is recommended because the exposed dentin can be covered by a rubber dam substitute to protect it. Some of the products are formulated with potassium nitrate and/or fluoride to reduce tooth sensitivity. A custom fitting tray is a good option for patients who find OTC treatments too messy.
Over-the-Counter Teeth Bleaching Products
OTC whitening products usually contain low levels of whitening agent: 3% to 10% hydrogen peroxide as the active ingredient. These products come in a variety of forms including strips, paint-on products, wraps or trays. Some significantly whiten teeth, while others do not make a clinical difference in tooth color. The main advantages of OTC products are cost and accessibility. These products are a good option for people who cannot afford the professionally prescribed whitening methods; do not have time for office visits, or to maintain already whitened teeth. Since the contact time is reduced compared with professionally prescribed whitening gels, the applications must be used longer to obtain similar results.
The main negative of OTC bleaching is those whitening teeth without a concurrent dental examination may camouflage serious, undiagnosed dental problems that require attention.
Proper examination prior to teeth whitening is a necessary step at our office. Dr. Kakos reviews the patient’s dental history and identifies risk factors such as the presence of abscesses, existing decay, root resorption, cervical abrasions or gingival recession. Diagnosis of gingival recession prior to teeth whitening helps to manage dentinal hypersensitivity and reduces patients’ discomfort during and after teeth bleaching.
We are often asked which method of whitening is the most effective. We always want to make sure that the right method is selected to meet the needs of the individual patient. However, we have found that “In-office whitening” treatment followed by “custom fitting trays” that can be used at home for touch-ups provides the best and most efficient results.
If you are interested in teeth whitening, please call our Arlington Heights office at 847-758-0100 to schedule a free consultation.
We will help you to choose the right technique of teeth whitening that will suit your needs. Also, make sure that you check our Special Offers on the official website for whitening specials.