When you’re shopping for something at the store, you’re probably looking for the best deal for whatever it is you’re looking to buy. In the US, we’re very good at making these kinds of decisions generally, and it’s only natural to assume that the same criteria you use to buy a blender at a big box retail outlet can also be used when you’re making decisions about your health, especially when it comes to elective and cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening and bleaching.
Teeth whitening (depending on the exact method used, it may also be called teeth bleaching) is the most popular form of cosmetic dentistry in the US. It’s obvious to see why: teeth whitening is virtually pain and discomfort free (for most people), it is non-invasive, it is relatively quick and convenient, and the results are easy to see (and show off). The popularity of teeth whitening has not been lost on retailers and manufacturers of personal care products, who have in the last few years flooded the market with whitening products that can be purchased in stores. Thanks to the internet, a huge number of DIY (do-it-yourself) whitening methods have also emerged.
The companies and individuals are hoping to take advantage of your “bargain-hunting” impulse by providing “cheaper alternatives” to the teeth whitening treatments that are done by dentists (our Cincinnati, OH practice offers professional, dentist-supervised tooth whitening). These retail teeth whitening options are successful because people assume that they are just as effective as those your dentist can provide. This is not the case at all, however, and the price advantage of store-bought whitening is lost when you realize that you’re simply getting less for less, not more for less.
Understanding the Difference Between Dentist-Supervised and Store-Bought Teeth Whitening
It’s first important to establish how teeth whitening works. The majority of the teeth whitening solutions you’ll find use hydrogen peroxide as an active ingredient. This is true of both store-bought whitening kits and dentist-supervised teeth whitening treatments; there are some exceptions, but mainly they are “all-natural” teeth whitening products, the effectiveness of which is dubious for a number of reasons (we’ll cover these briefly later).
Hydrogen peroxide destroys the pigment molecules that create the stains on your teeth. To the naked eye, your teeth appear to have a smooth, uninterrupted surface. In reality, your teeth are actually extremely porous; a tooth’s surface is covered with tiny pits. Pigment molecules get stuck in these pits, which you observe as stains.
So What’s the Difference?
While store-bought and dentist-supervised whitening seem very similar due to the fact that both types use hydrogen peroxide, that is the extent of the attributes they share. Dentist-supervised whitening treatments are far superior to the ones you can buy at the store on your own for a number of significant reasons.
Hydrogen Peroxide Content Matters!
The amount of hydrogen peroxide that is in store-bought whitening kits is much lower than in the whitening gels your dentist will use to whiten your teeth.
Custom vs. Mass-Produced
While there are a variety of methods for applying whitening gels to your teeth, the most common is the “dental tray” or “whitening tray” for both dentist-supervised treatments and store-bought kits. A whitening tray is similar to an athletic mouthguard, and the gel is placed in the “trough” of the tray. The teeth whitening tray is then placed over your teeth, and the gel makes contact with your teeth, delivering the hydrogen peroxide.
Trays in store-bought kits are mass-produced, or in other words, “one size fits all”. This works for free hats at a baseball game, but it doesn’t work when it comes to your teeth. Everyone’s mouth is different, so in reality a “one size fits all” tray actually fits very few people, if any at all.
Your dentist will use trays that are custom-designed for your teeth, based upon a dental impression that he will make prior to the start of your whitening treatment. A custom whitening tray will fit your teeth exactly, making wearing the tray much more comfortable (especially if you have a strong gag reflex), and the whitening gel will be applied to all areas of your teeth, making for a more efficient use of the gel and therefore a better whitening result. Furthermore, custom whitening trays keep the gel away from where it doesn’t need to be. This is especially important if you have sensitive gums!
Your Comfort and Care
Ultimately, your dentist will be able to tailor your whitening treatment to meet your specific needs and your goals for your smile, as well as considering your oral health to ensure the most comfortable whitening experience.
Even if you buy the best store-bought option available, the kit will never include the experience and expertise of a professional dentist.
What About All-Natural DIY Kits?
You should avoid “all-natural” DIY kits, as well as the “homemade” recipes that are available online. While the ingredients in these kits and recipes seem harmless on their own, you can do serious damage to your teeth if you don’t get the mixture exactly right (and you won’t know what that is until something goes wrong, because it’s not like someone is going through all those websites and checking the recipes and products for efficacy and safety, are they)?
The fact is, most “all-natural” teeth whitening products either don’t work, or they do more harm than good. No regulatory body governs how these products are manufactured, and this goes double for any “homemade” whitening products you might see on the internet.
Get the Most For Your Whitening Dollar!
Anderson Dental Care provides whitening treatments that are safe, designed just for you, and are much more effective than anything you can buy online or in a store. Don’t be fooled by the marketing hype!
If you’re interested in whitening your teeth, give us a call and make an appointment! Your dentist will examine your teeth and gums to determine if you are healthy enough to undergo whitening, as well to get a handle on exactly what kind of treatment is safest and most effective for you.
Dial 714-988-2167, or click here for our online appointment form to book your visit right now!