Everything You Need to Know About In-Office Teeth Whitening

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From making a killer first impression to naturally elevating your mood, there are a number of reasons to smile more. But factors as simple as a daily cup of coffee or glass of red wine can inflict major damage to the brightness of your smile, not to mention your confidence. One solution is an in-office teeth whitening treatment, a procedure that’s gained considerable popularity in recent years. To help you select the right teeth-whitening treatment for you—and to assist you in revealing your most gorgeous smile ever—we’ve put together a few tips.

What Is an In-Office Teeth Whitening?

While certain aspects of the procedure can vary, professional teeth whitening treatments are fairly straightforward. Following a simple dental exam and cleaning, the procedure can take anywhere from half an hour to two hours, and the results are virtually instantaneous. After the practitioner applies a special resin or dam to protect the gums, a bleaching solution is applied directly to the teeth. This is rinsed and reapplied once every 15 to 30 minutes, allowing the practitioner to gauge the results, and may be accompanied by a bright, concentrated light to aid the effects of the whitening gel.

Pros & Cons

Pros: In-office teeth whitening is not painful, and it’s also one of the fastest, easiest, and most low-maintenance ways to whiten your teeth. It’s a good fit for the natural discoloration that comes with aging, and the results tend to last up to three years. One of the major advantages of in-office teeth whitening over at-home treatments is that the former is not only more concentrated, but may be better for gum health than DIY whitening trays.

Cons: As is to be expected, in-office teeth whitening costs more than at-home treatments and can run anywhere from $400 to $900, with an average cost of $650. While there are definitely deals out there, it’s more important to choose a well-reviewed dental professional you trust than to get a bargain on a serious (and highly visible) procedure. Certain stains—such as those caused by wine, coffee, tea, and tobacco—can sometimes be treated by professional cleanings, in which case whitening may not be required.

At-Home vs. In-Office Teeth Whitening

For light touch-ups, there are a number of reasonably priced alternatives to in-office teeth whitening. These include custom whitening trays, strips, and gels, which offer a variety of results at a range of price points. Before pulling the trigger on any method, it’s a good idea to consult with your dentist, especially if you’ve ever experienced any dental injuries or complications.

Ultimately, it’s important to choose the right method for your type of discoloration and desired results, and to choose an in-office or at-home solution that’s both safe and effective. Whether you opt for a full-on professional whitening solution or at-home fix, knowing what you want—and having a clear sense of whether you’re comfortable with going chemical or natural—is key. As you weigh your options, check out these seven effective ways to whiten your teeth at home.