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Victor R. Siegel, DDS

Professional vs. Over-the-counter Teeth Whitening

By Victor Siegel on April 15, 2014

Rockville Professional Teeth WhiteningEveryone loves a white, bright smile, so when it comes to teeth whitening usually the only question is: Should you use professional or over-the-counter teeth whitening treatments?

Both methods have their pros and cons. But whichever method you pick, you should first visit your dentist.

That’s because there is an important first step that can only be performed by your dentist: Check the health of your teeth.

A check-up is essential because if the whitening agent seeps into an undetected cavity or a loose filling, it could damage the tooth’s root and lead to a number of complications. In the worst-case scenario, you could end up needing a root canal treatment.

In addition to checking your teeth, a dentist will also look for gum disease, another factor that could put you at risk during teeth whitening.

Dr. Victor R. Siegel, who provides cosmetic dentistry in Bethesda and Rockville, can assess your teeth to make sure you are a good candidate for professional teeth whitening or an over-the-counter treatment; he can also help you weigh the benefits of each method.

Professional Teeth Whitening Benefits

You get expert knowledge and guidance with professional teeth whitening treatments, which can be a plus for people with dental concerns.

For starters, a dentist understands which stains respond better to teeth whitening. In fact, some stains may be impossible to remove. In that case, a dentist can offer alternative methods to deal with the discoloration, such as using porcelain veneers to hide the problem.

Specific benefits with professional teeth whitening include:

  • Stronger Whitening Agents. Professional teeth whitening solutions are much stronger than what you can buy over the counter, giving dentists the right tools to tackle deep-set stains.
  • Faster Whitening. Professional treatments brighten teeth much faster than over-the-counter methods, which can take from two to four weeks before there is a noticeable change in the color of teeth. In-office whitening treatments can get teeth up to eight shades brighter in about an hour.
  • Managing Sensitivity Issues. If you have sensitive teeth or gums, a dentist can modify your treatment to reduce complications. Misused store products can lead to pain for people whose teeth are already sensitive. With a customized treatment plan, you can get the maximum whitening and avoid being derailed by sensitivity issues.

In general, people who want to achieve the brightest smile possible or who anticipate complications may need the expertise gained with professional teeth whitening.

Over-the-counter Benefits

Cost is the big advantage with over-the-counter teeth whitening. Hands down, store methods are less expensive than professional treatments.

Over-the-counter whitening methods employ weaker solutions so they are not as successful on deep-set stains. And, since the solutions are weaker, whitening will take longer. However, if you are patient and have a few extra weeks, store-bought treatments will eventually brighten your teeth.

Perhaps the major drawback with over-the-counter methods is that you are on your own. It’s important that you follow directions precisely since misapplication or over use of bleaching products can damage your teeth or gums, sometimes permanently.

In general, store methods may be a good fit for people whose teeth are healthy, but just need a little whitening.   

Next Steps

Whatever method you choose for teeth whitening, please visit a dentist first to ensure your teeth are healthy enough for the procedure. Please call today for an appointment.

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Victor R. Siegel, DDS

16815 Crabbs Branch Way
Rockville, MD 20855

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