Cosmetic dentistry includes a variety of procedures, ranging from dental implants to tooth bonding. Of these procedures, teeth whitening is the most common. Teeth whitening is a fast and effective way to get a whiter, brighter smile. There are many different options available to whiten your teeth, but most fall into one of three categories: In-office bleaching, at-home bleaching, or at-home whitening products.

In-Office Bleaching

This is the fastest whitening option because stronger bleaching agents are applied to the teeth. For this procedure, your dentist will safeguard your gums and other soft tissue in your mouth from the potent bleaching agents with a rubber shield or protective gel. A highly concentration bleaching gel is then applied to the teeth. Your dentist may also use a special light or a laser to enhance the whitening benefits. This is the most expensive option available, but also produces the fastest results.

At-Home Bleaching

Bleaching kits to be used at home take longer than in-office bleaching to achieve the same results. They are still able to produce a significant difference in the appearance of your smile. These kits, dispensed by your dentist, utilize a lower concentration bleaching gel than is used in-office. In addition to the bleaching agent, the kit includes bleaching trays that have been custom-made by your dentist for your mouth. These trays can be worn for hours, or even overnight.

Over-the-Counter Teeth Whitening

There are several types of over-the-counter teeth whitening products available today. Consumers can choose to use whitening toothpastes, paint-on applicators, whitening strips, or a whitening gel and one-size mouth trays. The gel used in store bought whitening kits is of a lower concentration than the bleaching agents used under your dentist’s supervision. The over the counter options are the most inexpensive whitening solutions available. Since a less potent bleaching agent is used, it may take significantly longer to see noticeable results than the other teeth whitening options.

If you would like to have a whiter smile, talk to your dentist. He or she can give you a realistic expectation of the types of results you can anticipate from the different types of teeth whitening procedures available.