Do I need a dentist to whiten my teeth?

At our Martindale clinics we see a lot of patients who want a whiter smile.  Eating food, drinking coloured beverages and simply age can leave teeth stained and dull looking which can negatively affect a smile.  Often, our patients aren’t looking for dazzling white teeth, but just a few shades lighter to help roll their smile back a few years.  

There are a few different ways to achieve whiter teeth – both at home and professionally at the dentist.  Each method will have pros and cons so keep reading and we’ll help you sort out what will be best for you.

Are at-home whitening products good?

Whitening your teeth at home can often seem like the easiest rout, after all you can do it on your own time, in your bathrobe if you want, and you won’t have to pay your dentist.  The process also seems pretty straight forward, but in reality at-home teeth whitening is anything but. 

Visit your local pharmacy and you’ll find a variety of do-it-yourself whitening products.  

Using a whitening rinse

These are easy to use because all you do is swirl a mouthful of the liquid around in your mouth for about a minute.  Rinses are typically progressive, whitening more and more with each successive session, making them great to maintain a white smile and help prevent stains from building up again.  They are however often harsh on the fleshier parts of your mouth like your gums and tongue and really should not be swallowed as it’s not exactly healthy stuff to ingest.

 

Teeth whitening toothpastes

Again, it’s a simple product to use, but don’t expect professional level results.  Like the whitening rinses, toothpaste is something you can use everyday to maintain or prevent new stains from forming, but any whitening you see will take a long time and only with repeated use.  Tooth sensitivity is often a side-effect of whitening toothpastes so monitor how you feel and discontinue use if pain increases.

Teeth whitening gel strips

Now we’re getting into the more aggressive at-home whitening products that can begin to hold a candle to professional whitening treatments.  Gel strips of a low potency whitening bleach are applied to your teeth daily for anything from 15 minutes to 2 hours.  Due to the low strength of over-the-counter products, getting the results you want may take anywhere from a week to a month of daily application.  Gel strips are also often messy and irritation causing spillage onto your gums is common.

 

Teeth whitening trays

Whitening trays are filled with a whitening gel offers the fastest method of at-home teeth whitening.  These are as close to professional grade as you’re likely to find but they still miss the mark.  The gel inside the trays is still low strength and the trays are not custom made, meaning the fit won’t be great and some of the gel will likely end up on your gums. 

Should I get professional teeth whitening at the dentist?

Now you’re talking!  Having your teeth whitened at the dentist will provide the best and fastest results hands down.  The process is supervised by your dentist or hygienist which allows a stronger gel or solution to be used.  It’s also a much cleaner process and there is much less risk to exposing your gums to harsh chemicals.  Your dentist will also be able to use a heat or light source to speed up the process and draw on their experience to give you the best results. 

Whitening products generally only work on your natural tooth enamel, so you’ll need to consider the colour of any crowns or veneers you have installed because the last thing you want is to have bright white teeth that aren’t the same shade as your fake teeth.  The best person to make sure this doesn’t happen is your dentist or hygienist. If you have questions or concers, your dentist has the answers.

At-home whitening vs. professional whitening?

We’re dentists and you can already guess what we’re going to recommend, but that doesn’t make it any less true.  Teeth whitening is best performed by professionals for the most desirable and fastest results.

Your dentist has experience whitening teeth, will ensure only your teeth are affected and you’ll get much better results in way less time.  Also, because by now teeth whitening is a very common dental procedure, we perform at any of our St. Catharines, Hamilton or Burlington dental offices, it isn’t expensive either.

If you’re interested in a whiter smile, get in touch with any of our clinics and we can advise you on how best to proceed.  We’re always happy to hear from you!

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