Why Teeth Whitening Isn't Just a Luxury Anymore

Your smile is a physical feature that holds significant weight on how you see yourself as much as how others see you. A survey conducted by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry revealed that 48% of adults hold the opinion that a smile is the most memorable feature when first meeting someone. Thus, there is a growing trend of people seeking out resources to improve or perfect their smile to boost their confidence (and memorability).

The modern dentistry era has seen the market become heavily congested with hundreds of teeth whitening kits, pastes, gels, and other products that claim the same, if not better quality than professional, in-office whitening services at a lower price. As with anything that sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

While these alternatives may appear to be more attractive, there are many myths behind professional in-office cleaning services that should be debunked.

Myth: Teeth whitening is an expensive luxury service that costs thousands of dollars.

Truth: On average, an in-office professional cleaning with your dentist averages approximately $650. While this is more expensive than alternative over-the-counter products that typically range from $3-$100, it should be taken into account that the results obtained by using over-the-counter products are short-term, less effective, and require several more applications when compared to professional whitening. Professional in-office whitening, on the other hand, offers results quickly that last far longer.

Many dental practices offer flexible payment plans as well. Teeth whitening is not just a luxury anymore, and should be considered part of your annual routine as the years go on. It is best for you to contact your dentist office and discuss flexible payment options. You might be surprised to learn professional teeth whitening performed by a cosmetic dentist is more affordable than you think.

Myth: At-home whitening kits that you can purchase over-the-counter work just as well as in-office teeth whitening.

Truth: Over-the-counter products do not have the capability of being customized to fit your particular mouth and catered to your individual dental needs in the way that professional teeth whitening by a dentist can. Therefore, over-the-counter products, while they contain some proficiency of hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide properties, may result in tooth and gum irritation damage if they are overly strong or you experience sensitivity, or they can be relatively ineffective and slow-going if you need more aggressive treatment. Over-the-counter products may actually cause more harm than good to your teeth, so choose wisely when working on your smile.

Myth: My dentist won’t work with me on a payment plan so I can afford teeth whitening services.

Truth: It is true that only a small fraction of insurance plans cover teeth whitening services as it is considered a cosmetic procedure and not considered a mandatory dental service. However, it is false that cosmetic dentist offices are not flexible and unwilling to work with patients to arrange a payment plan that works for their patients. Contact our The Woodlands, TX office today to discuss how we can help you afford your dream smile.

Myth: Teeth whitening is not necessary as long as you brush and floss regularly.

Truth: While brushing and flossing are crucial to your oral health, it is not enough to ensure that your teeth will be as white as you would prefer. Consuming acidic foods and beverages, soda, particular fruits and vegetables, wine, coffee, tobacco products, as well as foods with high amounts of sugar can all lead to enamel damage and yellowing. Further, our teeth experience daily damage as they age, regardless.  Aging can result in yellow, green, or grey discoloration of teeth. Such repair requires professional attention, rather than simply brushing and flossing. It should also be noted that whitening strips and gels do not effectively combat age-related discoloration of teeth, so if you are experiencing this issue, you will want to speak with your dentist to assess your options.

Myth: Over-the-counter teeth cleaning products actually work faster than professional in-office cleaning.

Truth:  In professional in-office teeth whitening procedures, cosmetic dentists utilize high concentrated whitening product that produce almost immediately visible results. Since over-the-counter products do not contain similarly concentrated whitening chemicals, they usually take several weeks, even possibly months before there is any visible improvement of teeth color.

Myth: Activated charcoal is the best teeth whitening method because it’s all natural.

Truth: Activated charcoal has been used since the 1800s, but has only recently entered a popularity trend. Activated charcoal is different from the regular charcoal used in barbecue grills because it has been oxidized through exposure to extreme heat.

Activated charcoal has a unique absorbent nature that allows it to bind to toxins and odors rather than absorbing them. Most consumers believe this ability to bind is what makes it effective in teeth whitening.

Despite this belief, activated charcoal has not been scientifically or factually proven to whiten teeth. In fact, some experts believe it could even damage your teeth. The American Dental Association (ADA) holds the opinion that the naturally abrasive texture of activated charcoal has the possibility to harm the enamel of your teeth, which could actually exacerbate the appearance of yellow teeth. Activated charcoal may even lead to the exposure of dentin underneath the enamel, causing increased sensitivity to heat and cold. Since there is no data to support that activated charcoal is effective, it is not eligible for the ADA’s Seal of Acceptance and also not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Myth: Teeth whitening in the dentist office always hurts.

Truth: Professional, in-office whitening services are carefully performed in order to protect both your teeth and your gums, and are not likely to cause you pain. The procedure, while may vary from office to office, typically follows a standard procedure.

It begins with a cheek retractor being inserted into the mouth. This exposes what is called the “esthetic zone” teeth, or teeth that are visible when you smile. Then, a liquid rubber dam or hardening resin is applied to the gum tissue to protect it and prevent irritation. The whitening mixture consisting of bleaching gel and hydrogen peroxide is then applied and left on the teeth for about 15-30 minutes, rinsed, then a second layer is applied. Depending on the extent of whitening that needs to be done, some whitening treatment services will incorporate an intense light targeted on the areas of the smile that are particularly discolored. The light accelerates the whitening efforts of the bleach and hydrogen peroxide cleaning mixture.

Finally, the cheek retractors are removed and a final rinse occurs. The results of professional teeth whitening are so immediate that your teeth may whiten by at least two, and as many as eight shades. The dehydration of the bleach solution often makes the teeth look whiter than their true new color at first, and the teeth gradually settle into their new shade after only a few days. In-office whitening takes place under carefully monitored settings that allow for the safe, controlled, pain-free application of whitening solution.

Myth: You don’t have time to go into the cosmetic dentist office for a professional whitening service.

Truth: Typically, at-home whitening products require daily use of at least 2-3 times, several days a week before visible improvement is noticed. A professional teeth whitening, however, does not run longer than one hour, and produces immediate and long-term results. It actually takes less time to get a professional whitening treatment than it does to purchase and use over-the-counter products and get desired results.

Myth: The gel found in teeth whitening strips and gels have the exact same cleaning solution in the cosmetic dentist office.

Truth: Teeth whitening strips and gels do contain a small amount of hydrogen peroxide. However, because the amount is so low (approximately 6%), several applications must be used before noticeable results are achieved. Further, that small amount of whitening solution on strips and gels can be obstructed or removed by saliva and their design makes it difficult to reach all of the esthetic zone teeth.

Professional teeth whitening is no longer just a luxury that only the wealthy can afford. Professional whitening performed by a cosmetic dentist is the best way to ensure a safe, affordable, quality experience that will give you the smile of your dreams. Invest in your confidence and give yourself a memorable smile.

Dr. Carrie Muzny and Associates offer the highest-quality dental services for our patients in The Woodlands and surrounding areas. Our highly acclaimed dentists are not only exceptionally trained in modern whitening techniques, but also have attained academic honors and continue to refine their craft year after year. With our state-of-the-art technology and vast range of smile-perfecting procedures, we stay atop the field and deliver smiles as sunny as the state of Texas!

To let us help you get that perfect smile, contact us today. You can even request a virtual consultation!