Professional Teeth Whitening vs Bleaching

teeth whitening

Interested in having your teeth cosmetically whitened? You’re not alone. In fact, it seems only natural that most dental patients today are interested in having the brightest smile possible. Your teeth’s appearance is important to self esteem, confidence and flashing your smile to others.

The whitening process reverses the discoloration of tooth enamel to create a whiter, stain free and consistent appearance. Painless, long-lasting and affordable, whitening at the dentist offers many benefits.

What is the Difference Between Teeth Whitening and Bleaching?

Today there are many DIY whitening products available from teeth whitening kits, strips, gels, lights and even pens. Learn more about the options available and effectiveness. Marketers and consumers prefer “whitening” over “bleaching” for obvious reasons – ingesting bleach is toxic and can lead to poisoning. Although household cleaning bleach contains sodium hypochlorite while bleaching gels for teeth rely on hydrogen peroxide, whitening is today’s preferred buzzword.

The chart below shows this change in consumer preference via Google Search. In July of 2004, teeth bleaching and teeth whitening had equal demand in Texas. Today, teeth whitening is much more popular.

While bleaching teeth is a clearly an outdated term, it is essentially the same as whitening. Note, there are some concerning trends of TikTok users using Clorox bleach and magic erasers to whiten teeth. This carries significant risks to oral health and is not endorsed by any dentist or the American Dental Association.

Is a Visit to the Dentist Necessary to Whiten Teeth?

We know there are hundreds of options easily available at big box retailers and online stores to whiten teeth. However, there are risks to some over the counter whitening products. Active ingredients vary and are not FDA approved. Some products get under the threshold for approval by featuring lower levels of active ingredients, meaning they may require frequent use to maintain white teeth and cost more over time. Also, the list of ingredients vary from hydrogen peroxide to carbamide peroxide to sodium chlorite which can actually encourage tooth decay. If you do want to purchase whitening products yourself, look for ADA approval

In contrast, the whitening gels and blue LED lights available at Today Dental are FDA approved. Professional teeth whitening gels and kits are only available at a dentist and feature a higher concentration of whitening agents. Going to your dentist is beneficial for patients that are seeking a safe and effective whitening treatment. 

What Whitening Options Are Available?

At Today Dental, we offer two professional teeth whitening options in locations throughout Fort Worth, Denton and Frisco.

  • Take Home Teeth Whitening Kit. This option provides patients with a custom tray that fits your teeth, reducing waste and increasing the efficiency of our peroxide bleaching solution.
  • We also offer the Opalescence Boost in office whitening system. This process allows the patient to walk out of the office with a vibrant smile after only one hour.

Who Benefits from Teeth Whitening?

Teeth whitening is one of the easiest and affordable, non-invasive treatments to improve a smile. Nearly everyone can benefit from whitening, although some patients will experience dramatic results. Smokers, frequent coffee, soda, tea and wine drinkers can remove stains. Older adults with tooth decay, yellowing and food stains will see noticeable improvement. 

Teeth whitening is safe for teenagers to high school seniors. It is popular before getting family photos to wedding parties planning for the wedding day. Share your timeline and expectations with your dentist. 

Is Professional Teeth Whitening For Everyone?

Some patients with gum disease, bonding, veneers and other cosmetic treatments may need to avoid certain whitening treatments. Your dentist will be able to recommend different solutions depending on your oral health history. 

Teeth whitening is only one alternative to restoring discolored teeth. Determining whether or not you are a candidate for professional whitening is largely based upon diagnosing the exact cause of tooth discoloration. A number of factors contribute to discoloration, including:

  • Tetracycline (antibiotic) staining
  • Excessive fluoride
  • Trauma (injury) to the teeth
  • Pulp (nerve) degeneration
  • Restorative materials (silver, gold)
  • Genetic and acquired illnesses
  • Aging
  • Consumption of staining substances, such as coffee, tea or tobacco products

Is there a Permanent Teeth Whitening Option?

Unfortunately, no. Over time whitening can fade. While the Opalescence boost provides a fast-acting whitening treatment within an hour, it only lasts for several days. Our professional take home kits do last longer than store bought treatments. Maintaining whitening is sometimes required every month, while other patients come in every 2 – 3 months for a take home professional whitening kit.

Depending on your current shade, several whitening visits (normally 3 – 5) may be required when beginning the treatment. How long teeth whitening lasts depends on a variety of factors from diet, to genetics, tooth decay, etc.

In Summary…

Occasionally patients do experience some sensitivity to cold food and beverages for a day or two following the procedure. Thus, we recommend you avoid enamel staining substances such as coffee, tea and tobacco products for several days following your whitening appointment.

If you have any further questions about teeth whitening, we are happy to answer them. Those patients in our practice who have undergone cosmetic teeth whitening have acquired not only a more pleasing smile, but have experienced enhanced self-esteem and self-confidence, as well as increased peace of mind. Ask us how a whiter smile can benefit you.

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