Whitening is a simple procedure with a big impact.

Have you ever had your teeth professionally whitened? When supervised by a professional, teeth-whitening can offer a lot of results with little hassle.

There’s a difference between bleaching teeth and lifting stains.

Whitening your teeth can mean many things. When products promise whitening, they usually are talking about removing surface stains. But when a dentist uses the term whitening, they are talking about that plus custom bleaching, which involves choosing a shade perfectly matched to your skin tone and achieving that in the office or with the use of custom-made, take-home trays.

Some OTC (over-the-counter) products do also use peroxide to bleach teeth and can create minimally helpful results.

There are oodles of at-home whitening options, but they can be damaging.

Lemons, charcoal, kits…the options are endless. While some of these home remedies can be minimally helpful, some, like the ones that rely on the acids found in fruit, can damage the enamel on your teeth. It isn’t worth damaging your teeth to whiten them—it’s counter-intuitive—and people who try these options often end up feeling frustrated and disillusioned at best, or with damaged teeth at worst. Enamel doesn’t grow back, so caution is the best policy.

You’ll never get the level of white at home as you would in a dentist’s office.

If you just need to lift some stains, there are some good ADA-approved kits that you can use, which will allow you to see results over time. The kits rely on peroxide to bleach your teeth, but since no professional is present to help manage this, the level of bleach is lighter than a custom-made whitener at a dentist’s office. This is for safety reasons.

If you need a lot of whitening, getting the shade you want at home will be a lengthy process. Provided you are using safe, ADA-approved products, it doesn’t hurt to try!

We recommend an ADA-approved kit for one or two shades of whitening. If you feel your teeth need more than that, custom whitening done at a local dentist’s office is your best bet. A dentist will be able to choose the best shade for your skin and you’ll avoid the Ross Geller effect.

Whitening toothpastes are good assistants in the whitening process, but never the complete package.

Whitening toothpastes simply don’t stay on your teeth long enough to achieve the level of whitening you want. After a whitening procedure, however, they can help your teeth stay whiter by removing daily surface stains from coffee and tea. They are an excellent companion to at-home whitening kits or a great follow-up to professional whitening.

Toothpastes rely on abrasives and a low-level of peroxide to remove stains but only provide a little bleaching action.

Professional tooth whitening doesn’t typically cause a lot of sensitivity.

Whitening will only cause a concerning amount of sensitivity if you overdo it or start to damage your enamel. A professional whitening might cause minor sensitivity, but this usually only lasts for a few hours or a day, and your dentist should recommend an anti-sensitivity toothpaste, which should take care of it.

Occasionally, some people experience more than the expected tingling. If this is you, talk to your dentist, who should do everything they can to make you feel comfortable—even sending you home with painkillers.

I can whiten my teeth at the salon.

Only dentists are licensed to perform professional whitening. If the salon is just using an over-the-counter kit, then it’s okay for them to whiten your teeth, but you could do this yourself at a much better rate.

Take-home whitening is safer for your gums than over-the-counter products.

If you get a kit custom-made by a dentist to take home, or if you do the procedure in the office, your dentist will shape the tray around your teeth in such a way that the whitener avoids your sensitive gums. A product that you purchase over the counter, however great, is one-size-fits-all.

Consider both your budget and your timeline.

If you’re getting ready for a major event this weekend, you might not have time for an OTC whitener. A study published on ADA.org found that one OTC bleaching technique took “16 days to achieve the whitening level of a seven-day at-home tray system and a one-day in-office procedure.” People want things good, fast, and cheap, but you normally can’t have all three. 

If you want whitening good and fast, a professional in-office treatment is the way to go. Good and not-quite-so-expensive and you should use take-home trays. Good and cheap? Use an ADA-approved OTC kit but give yourself a couple of weeks, and remember that you can’t get the same results or the custom shade you can with a professional service. Fast and cheap? That would just be dangerous.

Acorn Dental might get you a little closer to that impossible trifecta this summer with our annual deal in professional whitening. We make custom impressions of your teeth in our office for the take-home whitening trays. You then come back in to pick up the trays and the five tubes of whitening gel to use until your teeth are a shade you are satisfied with. With custom trays for whitening your teeth, you’ll have a better experience with the fit of the trays, get less gel on your gums (meaning less sensitivity), and you can achieve the shade you want while we walk you through the process. 

On average, patients achieve their goals in five days.

It’s only $299 for your custom treatment, compared to the average $500 per treatment.