I’m considering professional whitening at my dentist office. I’ve tried the over-the-counter whitening strips and the only thing they seem to do is damage my enamel. I don’t have any friends or family who’ve done in-office whitening to truly know if it works. I’m also concerned about cost and how frequently I’d have to go back to have it done. Any advice? — Cheryl
Professional in-office whitening is a great, long-term solution to whiten your teeth. As for damaging your enamel, keep in mind that any whitening products (over-the-counter or in office) can be harmful if used too much. Over-the-counter products are designed to whiten a couple of shades lighter, however, it’s really only temporary because they are not as strong. Plus, they must be used frequently to maintain your desired result.
If you’re interested in professional whitening, check with your dentist, because he probably has a couple of options:
- An in-office procedure where he will apply a bleaching agent to your teeth and then use a light to activate the gel (this bumps your color several shades, and you’ll need to plan on about two hours at a cost of several hundred dollars)
- Take-home trays for bleaching at home which is less expensive (and works just as well over a longer period of time)
Talk with your dentist about whether or not you’re a good candidate for whitening and what might work best. Professional, in-office whitening can leave your teeth bright white for many years. Touch-ups are typically recommended every couple of years, depending on whether or not your eating, drinking or smoking habits discolor the teeth sooner. The good news is that periodic touch-ups are fairly inexpensive.