Across the world, teeth whitening is consistently the most popular cosmetic dental procedure, year after year. With dozens of products available in both dental offices and over-the-counter, the accessibility is unprecedented. The ease in which the products can be applied without the risk of major side effects also contributes to the popularity of teeth whitening, as well as the overall affordability.
Teeth whitening happens as a result of oxygenating the microscopic furrows and pits in the enamel, or surface of the teeth. These tiny fissures collect enough pigmented food particles over time to stain the teeth an even yellow or brownish hue. Use of coffee, tea, red wine and tobacco products commonly leads to discoloration of the teeth. Whitening products contain a peroxide-based solution that, when applied, reacts with the stain-causing particles and breaks them into even smaller pieces that can easily be rinsed away from the enamel.
While the teeth whitening merchandise found in pharmacies and retail stores is made with the same chemicals as professional products, the over-the-counter ingredients are typically not as concentrated as those used in dental offices. This makes whitening the teeth at home more affordable, but the results are less dramatic and take longer to appear and to maintain. Professional-grade products, on the other hand, are generally more expensive at the outset, but the effects are immediate, often taking teeth up to eight shades whiter and last several months longer before another treatment is required. A whitening appointment typically takes between 30 and 60 minutes, whereas kits used at home can require several months of consistent use and the application is carefully monitored by trained professionals. This disproportion in results can make the overall cost of a professional whitening session comparable to at-home treatments.