Teeth Whitening: At-Home Versus In-Chair

More and more people are looking into having their teeth whitened, mainly because of the myriad benefits that whitening your teeth has to offer.

White teeth aren’t necessarily a sign of good oral health, or perfect oral-hygiene practice. In fact, it doesn’t matter how fastidious you are about your dental hygiene when it comes to have sparkling pearly whites—age, smoking, and consumption of food and drink (like coffee, tea and alcohol) more prone to staining can all cause your teeth to lose their gleam.

Mouth and white teeth

For better or for worse, white teeth have always been a sign of health and glamour. Movie stars light up the screen and the red carpet with their perfect set of pearly whites and studies have even shown that we are more likely to trust politicians with a perfect smile than those with crooked, stained teeth. White teeth also make you feel more comfortable when smiling and socialising. That’s why people are turning to teeth whitening in order to help restore their smile.

Over the Counter Teeth Whitening

Over the counter teeth whitening options are very different from the ‘at-home’ solution that your dentist can offer. Over the counter options are nowhere near as effective, because:

  • Legally, companies that manufacture over the counter teeth whitening products aren’t allowed to use the same amounts of peroxide in their products as dentists. This is due to health and safety precautions. As peroxide is the active agent that lightens the teeth, this makes over the counter options less effective.
  • Over the counter teeth whitening products don’t include custom fitted trays or mouthguards, like dentist-prescribed solutions will. Custom-made trays ensure that the peroxide stays in contact with your teeth for far longer, allowing this active ingredient to do its job properly. Generally speaking, over the counter options don’t have trays, which means the peroxide is washed away by saliva. Or, if trays are included, then they are not custom fitted. This is particularly problematic as the peroxide can seep out of the ill-fitting tray and affect the gum area. Trays provided by your dentist are specifically fitted and designed to hug your teeth, thereby preventing peroxide from seeping out.
  • While over the counter options may remove discolouration caused by smoking and teeth-staining beverages, they are unlikely to significantly lighten your teeth. So, if you’re interested in teeth whitening with long-term results, its best to visit your dentist.

The Debate

So, now that we’ve separated the effective from the ineffective, it’s time to compare the two dentist-supervised procedures: in-chair teeth whitening versus at-home teeth whitening.

In-Chair Teeth Whitening

There are slight differences in how in-chair teeth whitening will be performed, depending on your dentist. Dr Olstein in Prahran will begin by applying a gel to the surface of your teeth. He will then use a bright laser, shining this over the surface of your teeth, to activate the lightening agent that is present in the gel: peroxide.

The entire process takes approximately one hour to complete, and you should notice results immediately. Depending on the extent of the discolouration on your teeth, Dr Olstein may also recommend that you follow up this treatment with a course of at-home teeth whitening (as described below).

At-Home Teeth Whitening

If you opt for at-home teeth whitening, this process will begin with Dr Olstein making a series of moulds of your teeth. These moulds will then be used to create custom-fitted and designed trays. Each night you will need to fill these trays with a specially formulated peroxide gel and wear them overnight.

The results of at-home teeth whitening are not as immediate as in-chair, and instead are a result of the repeated exposure of your teeth to the peroxide. The heavier the staining or discolouration of your teeth, the longer you will need to wear the trays for.

The Verdict

In the case of teeth whitening options, there really is no real clear winner. Rather, the best option for you (like all dental care) will depend upon your personal circumstances, such as the severity of the staining and your budget.

While in-chair whitening is more expensive, you do see results immediately. By comparison, at-home options are cheaper, although the results may take longer to appear and heavy stains may require at least one session of in-chair treatment.

For people with heavy staining or discolouration, your dentist may even recommend you follow up the in-chair treatment with some at-home treatment. In fact, to maintain the results of the in-chair whitening it is recommended that you do some at-home whitening about once a year.

If you want to restore your smile, Dr George Olstein has been giving patients incredible results for over 30 years. You’ll be amazed at what he can do with your smile. Call today to book your appointment.