How Teeth Whitening Treatment From the Dentist Differs From Over-the-Counter Products

Of all cosmetic dentistry treatments, teeth whitening is by far the most requested. What’s not to love about a bright, white smile? There are also a wide range of consumer products that offer teeth whitening benefits — everything from toothpastes and mouthwashes to dedicated whitening kits promise brighter teeth.

If you’re wondering which route to follow, it’s important to note that there are differences between over-the-counter and dental office whitening solutions. When you know what these are, your teeth whitening choices become much clearer.

Defining teeth whitening

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has definitions for both teeth whitening and teeth bleaching, and while they’re not the same, these definitions are interchangeable in common use. A toothpaste can be called whitening if it’s designed to clean teeth and remove some surface stains, but it’s not a bleaching product because it doesn’t contain a bleach ingredient.

Without a bleach, typically hydrogen or carbamide peroxide, the amount of whitening possible is limited. When you’re comparing dental office whitening with consumer products, you’re really discussing teeth bleaching procedures.

The advantages of teeth bleaching

The principal benefit of using bleaches is that their effects aren’t limited to surface stains. These substances are capable of penetrating tooth enamel and lightening your teeth below the surface. Results from bleaching can be whiter than the natural color of your tooth enamel.

Both consumer and dental office bleaching products have peroxides. The biggest difference, however, is the strength of these bleaching agents.

Comparing peroxide levels

Teeth bleaching depends on a combination of strength and application time. A bleach of a certain strength whitens more the longer it’s in contact with your teeth, up to the point where it loses activity. The more concentrated the bleach is, the greater its whitening potential.

Over-the-counter whitening kits have peroxide levels of about 7%. This is a reasonable strength for home use. Because whitening bleaches can damage gum tissue, home kits limit peroxide concentration and activity to prevent burning your gums. Excessive bleaching can also damage tooth enamel, so the 7% level protects you from accidental over-bleaching.

When you visit Dr. Ana Grace Santos and her team at ABC Dental, you can expect bleaches with up to 45% peroxide concentrations, over six times as concentrated as the kits you can buy at your pharmacy. Because of these strong concentrations, dental office bleaches are much more demanding to work with.

However, dental office professionals are trained to work with these products. There are particular techniques and methods that keep these strong peroxides safe for you while at the same time providing the highest levels of teeth whitening.

Despite the appeal of having your brightest smile, teeth whitening isn’t suitable for everyone. To find out more about professional tooth whitening and what it can offer you, contact ABC Dental by phone or using the online booking tool to arrange a personal consultation.

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