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Tooth stains can be caused by a number of foods and beverages, as well as poor dental hygiene. If you frequently consume staining agents like wine, tea, or dark sauces, or acidic or sugary foods like candies, soda, or coffee, you likely have some staining on the surface of your teeth. Even with proper brushing, flossing, and care, the surface of your teeth tends to darken over time. Fortunately, this process is reversible with teeth whitening.

Both in-office and take-home procedures can alleviate tooth discoloration and staining. For those with moderate or severe tooth stains, which can build up over time, a visit to your dentist can provide lasting results; for a more cost-effective alternative, an over the counter whitening paste or gel can help remove mild to moderate stains or keep your teeth glowing in between dental appointments. Discuss your options with your dentist to determine which whitening method is best for you.

In-Office Whitening

In-office teeth whitening is a fast and powerful solution for anyone with moderate to severe tooth stains. In just one visit, your dentist can dramatically whiten your teeth, with results lasting months or even years.

Once you’ve determined that in-office teeth whitening is right for you, your dentist will set a special appointment to perform the procedure. Most in office methods involve a gel or paste that is applied to the surface of your teeth and then activated by a laser or heated light. This activation allows the whitening agent (the gel or paste) to lift away stains and brighten your teeth.

Benefits of in office teeth whitening:

  • Efficient: Just one or two visits can offer drastic results
  • Effective: These results can last months if you practice proper dental hygiene
  • Safe: Under your dentist’s supervision, your teeth are treated with the utmost care

Because tooth whitening is an aesthetic procedure, it often isn’t covered by insurance. However, most patients who undergo an in office whitening session consider it worth the cost, since results are substantial and long lasting.

Take-Home Whitening

If in-office whitening isn’t in your budget, or if you have only mild to moderate tooth stains, your dentist may recommend an over the counter whitening treatment. These whitening kits are sold at most pharmacies, and are considerably cheaper than a dental session. However, the do-it-yourself method does not offer the same powerful results provided by your dentist.

Most at home teeth whitening kits include a whitening paste or gel with a tooth tray, or a strip, any of which must sit against the surface of your teeth for between 15 to 30 minutes at a time. Many whitening kits require several applications over the course of a few days or weeks for results to show.

Benefits of take-home whitening

  • Cost-effective: These treatments are typically inexpensive and come with several rounds of whitening agents
  • Easy To Use: Most whitening kits simply rest on the surface of your teeth, allowing you to read, watch television, or focus on other things while the whitening agent works
  • Gentle: For sensitive teeth, at home whitening kits may be a better option than the powerful in office treatments

As with any do-it-yourself treatment, be sure to thoroughly read the instructions before using your at home whitening kit. Even with the lower dose of stain-removing agents in these over the counter products, if used improperly, you can damage your teeth. However, if you follow the regimen for your particular whitening product, you can expect visible results in just a few applications.

Still wondering which whitening method is right for you? Talk with your dentist today.

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