Professional vs. At-home Teeth Whitening
What gives our teeth that pearly-white color? And what do we mean by whitening teeth?
You’ve probably heard of the outermost layer of your teeth referred to as your enamel. This layer is made up of minerals and is actually the hardest part of your body. Enamel can be a slightly yellow to grayish-white color and, despite its strength, is actually semi-translucent. Due to being partly transparent, your enamel is just one factor in determining the color of your teeth.
Below your enamel is a yellow-hued tissue called dentin. As we age, dentin turns more and more yellow. The result of which is increasingly apparent through the translucent enamel.
This is why whitening toothpastes do not “work” for many people. These products can only effectively remove surface stains from enamel. If after a few weeks of using a whitening toothpaste you aren’t seeing results, it’s likely surface stains are not the cause of your discoloration.
It might just be yellowing of dentin. If so, you’ll need to undergo teeth whitening treatments to reach the brighter shade you desire. Whitening treatments utilize a gel-like product that includes chemicals like carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide that penetrate through your enamel to the dentin below.
While there are plenty of whitening kits available on the market for over-the-counter, at-home treatment, they can be ineffective and even harmful. Many products are down-right gimmicky. Gums and mouthwashes touted for their “whitening” properties, for example. By their very nature, they cannot impart any whitening benefits at all. Thus they are nothing more than a waste of your hard-earned money.
At the dental offices of Dr. Sexton, we want to preserve your oral health and help you spend your money wisely on the safe, effective treatment you want. Here’s how our whitening services are different from at-home kits:
An important difference between in-office treatment and over-the-counter options is the level of customization or lack of it. At-home, DIY whitening kits are one size fits all—but when it comes to your health and using chemicals, this is the last thing you want. Customization is key for safe, effective results.
In the office, we create a custom fit tray for your whitening treatments. A custom fit helps to avoid getting the whitening product on your gums where it can cause irritation and inflammation.
Continuous irritation can cause the gum line to recede, leaving you vulnerable to gingivitis or worse, periodontal disease. As the gums recede they begin to form a pocket between the tooth and gum tissue. Tartar and food debris can then build up in this pocket, causing further irritation and even infection. This infection is known as periodontal disease, or gum disease and, when left untreated, can lead to deterioration of the jaw bone and tooth loss.
Dr. Sexton will take your oral health, discoloration causes, and current shade into consideration when creating a whitening plan for you to follow from the comfort of your own home. Under his guidance, treatment often takes between 2 to 4 weeks.
Once your custom tray is made you’ll receive detailed instructions on how to go about applying the treatment and how long to leave it on. It is very important to follow the instructions given per your treatment plan to achieve your desired results while maintaining the health of your teeth.
Guidance provided by your dentist is critical in reaching your goals while avoiding over-whitening. The chemicals that whiten teeth are harsh and when misused can lead to tooth sensitivity as well as erosion of your enamel.
While fluoride can help strengthen your enamel, once this important layer is gone, it’s gone. Your body cannot develop a new layer to replace it. And enamel is crucial to your oral health as it protects the tooth from developing decay and rotting away. As you know, cavities can be painful, costly to repair, and lead to loss of the tooth if left untreated.
Tooth sensitivity, known as dentin hypersensitivity, occurs when gums have receded far back enough to expose the dentin at the root of your tooth. Those with dentin hypersensitivity experience tooth sensitivity or even pain when consuming hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods. Some people even experience this sensitivity when breathing in cold air.
The best way to avoid eroding the enamel layer or developing tooth sensitivity is to take care of your teeth by flossing once a day and brushing twice daily—and of course, following Dr. Sexton’s directions when undergoing whitening treatments.
You can have the beautiful, bright smile you dream of without sacrificing your oral health. Undergoing a custom, supervised teeth whitening program will help you to do just that. We understand it can be tempting to skip an office visit and pick up a whitening kit from the drugstore. But ultimately the damage that can be caused isn’t worth the convenience.
The team at Dr. Sexton’s office is here to make meeting your smile goals and maintaining your oral health as easy as possible. That’s why Dr. Sexton has opted to offer a whitening option that allows you to undergo treatment from the comfort of your own home. It allows us to provide you the best of both worlds—the convenience of an at-home kit and the safe, effectiveness of professional treatment.
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