Today, millions of Americans understand the importance of regularly visiting the dentist. But even those who keep twice-yearly appointments and maintain excellent oral hygiene at home can wish for whiter teeth.

With a variety of ways to brighten your smile, it can be hard to know which one is right for you.  Whitening toothpaste, home whitening trays and kits, and professional teeth whitening treatments are all options, so which do you choose? 

Whitening Toothpaste

Many toothpastes claim to have the ability to whiten teeth by as many five (or more) shades, and this can be true when a quality product is used regularly over time and when tooth discoloration is mostly superficial. Like standard gels and pastes, whitening toothpastes contain cleaning agents and mild abrasives for general overall cleaning, but their enhanced formulations are capable of breaking down resistant stains on the tooth’s surface from things like drinking coffee or wine and smoking. They are unable, however, to treat deeper discoloration from years-old discoloration due to medication, nutritional deficiencies, genetics, and aging.

Younger patients who practice good oral hygiene and want to add wattage to their natural tooth color can have good luck with whitening toothpaste.

At-Home Whitening Kits

Over-the-counter teeth whitening kits are available just about everywhere and offer a more intense smile-brightening option.  At-home kits generally involve plastic trays (similar to retainers) or treated strips lined with a gel-like bleaching product that is worn over teeth for a set amount of time. Some even come with special lights designed to enhance the effect.

Because the trays or strips are worn on teeth for longer each night than it takes to brush them, and because the bleaching agent used is generally stronger than in most whitening toothpastes, the potential for a noticeable color change is higher.

However, not everyone is pleased with the at-home teeth-whitening experience.  One-size-fits-all trays often don’t, so there can be gum or soft tissue irritation due to a poor fit or too much whitening agent.  In addition, users often report uneven or blotchy final coloring due to a sporadic product distribution or a variation in the starting color among teeth due to existing dental problems or prior trauma. Because the formulations in OTC kits can be stronger, post-whitening tooth sensitivity is frequently an issue.

Professional Teeth Whitening Treatments

The fastest and most effective way to treat deep discoloration is a professional teeth whitening treatment from your dentist. After a thorough evaluation, the dedicated staff at Oak Hill Dental can recommend the best professional teeth whitening option.

  • GO Ready-To-Wear Trays

Our easy-to-use and disposable GO Trays offer the in-home convenience of OTC kits, but they come with professional oversight and prescription-strength whitening agents.  Ready-to-wear trays provided by your dentist are more malleable than drug store versions to better conform to teeth, and they come prefilled for just the right amount of whitener.  This allows for a more even finished color and less gum irritation and sensitivity.

  • Custom Trays

To level up the at-home experience, we offer custom trays as well.  Made from an impression of the patient’s mouth, this option takes slightly more effort than the ready-to-wear version because the whitening agent is applied at home, but the payoff is higher due to the perfect fit of the trays. When your custom trays are ready, your dentist will instruct you on their proper use for best results. Unlike disposable prefabricated trays, custom trays can be saved after your initial use for reuse at a later date if you want to refresh your smile.

  • In-Office Whitening

For patients with the time for a series of in-office treatments involving LED light technology, immediate whitening results can be achieved after the first visit, with even more improvement over subsequent visits. This generally takes three to four appointments depending on the staining severity. At each visit, professional-strength whitening agents are applied to the teeth by your dentist and activated with LED light, which can affect the deepest layers of discoloration. The results are dramatic and long-lasting.

Having a whiter, brighter, more confident smile can make a noticeable improvement in your appearance. It’s the main reason that teeth whitening treatments are one of the most sought-after cosmetic interventions.  Contact Oak Hill Dental today for an evaluation to determine which tooth whitening option best fits your lifestyle, budget, and desired results.