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Why might you want a whiter smile?

Your appearance isn’t everything, but it says a lot about you as a person — this includes your smile. When you flash a brilliant smile, people perceive you as healthier and more attractive. Business associates, significant others, classmates — they are more likely to want to interact with you if your smile is in great shape.

But life can take its toll on your teeth. Thinning enamel, smoking, drinking and more can cause staining and yellowing — some of which regular brushing just won’t cure.

One way to treat dulled dents is to use whitening products. You can find them right at the drugstore — trays, strips, pastes, rinses and more. One of the important decisions you must make, however, is whether to use over-the-counter treatments in your home, or seek professional help. As dental practitioners, we favor the latter, you working with us to achieve the results that make sense, both aesthetically and financially.

Now, before you conclude that we dentists are saying this because we just want to make money, the fact is, whitening your teeth without professional evaluation and care might be a bigger gamble than you bargained for. If you are still not sure whether to see a dentist or go it alone, here are seven great reasons to see a dentist first…

Reason No. 1 — Investigation

Your regular dentist probably knows your teeth and mouth better than you do, and there are many reasons why certain whitening regimens might not work for your unique situation. For example…

  • If you took certain antibiotics as a child, they may have discolored your teeth in a way that bleaching cannot reverse.
  • If your mouth or gums have experienced trauma, this may have caused discoloration that cannot be treated with bleaching.
  • Exposure to too much fluoride during childhood may have led to tooth discoloration that doesn’t respond to whitening.

Leave it to your dentist to thoroughly investigate your medical history and the condition of your mouth before deciding on a specific whitening strategy.

Reason No. 2 — Concentration

Over-the-counter tooth whitening products mostly contain peroxide compounds, a sure-fire whitening agent, but the concentration of peroxide in these products is often weaker than in the tooth whitening treatments that dentists offer.

Commercial products contain no more than 10% hydrogen peroxide, and most are less, around 3% to 4%. Treatments at your dentist, however, contain more of this bleaching agent and can work more effectively in less time when used properly.

Reason No. 3 – Application

Applying whitening agents, yourself, can be a tricky business, making it easy to “miss a spot” or cause undue irritation of gum tissue.

To prevent this, your dentist makes a fitted tray that holds whitening paste or gel to fit snugly against your teeth for better results.

Reason No. 4 — Duration

As mentioned, with over-the-counter tooth whitening, you have to treat for longer periods, since the product is less concentrated. This is a disadvantage, since the longer the product stays in contact with your gums, the more irritation is likely.

Professional whitening products require less time to lighten, so there’s actually less risk of gum irritation. Plus, your dentist will carefully monitor treatment and try to ensure that exposure to gums is limited.

Reason No. 5 — Preparation

Another advantage to working with a dentist is that, prior to whitening treatment, your teeth can be professionally cleaned. Your dentist will check for cracks or other abnormalities such as erosion of tooth enamel that could affect results.

Your dentist will also look at the gums to make sure you don’t have periodontal disease or one of many other conditions. In addition, since restorations, like crowns, may not respond well to bleaching, a dentist can take measures to protect those areas.

Reason No. 6 — Interpretation

As we mentioned, dentists have the ability to interpret the state of your smile, your medical history and your lifestyle.

In the event that conventional whitening treatments are not recommended, your dentist can suggest alternatives for improving your smile without the use of whitening agents.

Reason No. 7 — Elation (with your results)

Beyond the advantage of being faster and safer, the results you get from professional tooth whitening will most likely look better and last longer than the results you get from at-home products.

The higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide and deeper penetration of the hydrogen peroxide bleaching agent make the whitening more sustainable.

The Bottom Line

If a brighter smile is what you are after, please ask us about whitening at your next office visit or call us for an appointment today!


Sulieman M, Addy M, MacDonald E, Rees JS. The effect of hydrogen peroxide concentration on the outcome of tooth whitening: an in vitro study. J Dent. 2004 May;32(4):295-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jdent.2004.01.003. PMID: 15053912.

Carey, C. M. (2014, February 13). Tooth whitening: What we now know. Journal of Evidence Based Dental Practice. Retrieved May 4, 2022, from


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