In-Office Whitening vs At-Home Whitening: Pros and Cons

woman smiling

Most people in the United States would like to have whiter teeth. An astonishing 86% would like to improve the appearance of their smile with tooth whitening techniques. All the techniques that are used today use a form of peroxide to lighten the shade of the teeth. The concentration of peroxide varies greatly depending upon what modality is used. 


A whitener can make the teeth as white as the natural tooth will allow. So results will vary from patient to patient. Such factors as the thickness of enamel, the amount of yellow in the underlying layer of the tooth (this is called the dentin) will affect the final outcome. Whitening procedures will remove food, stains from coffee, tea, and red wine. They cannot stop yellow dentin from showing through thin enamel. Other cosmetic procedures such as porcelain veneers are very helpful in these cases. Whitening procedures do indeed work, and they work well. We have seen beautiful results in our office, using the Zoom whitening technique, where the patient’s tooth shade can be six shades lighter from their start.


There are three types of whitening techniques (teeth bleaching).


1. Over the counter whitening strips


These strips work, to a certain degree. They contain the lowest amount of peroxide-10%. The strips are like bandaids; they will adhere to the front six teeth but do not do well on the side or posterior teeth. This is a concern when one smiles. For the side teeth still appear dark. They take a long time to show results as concentration is low. The strips are inexpensive, a month’s supply is about $50.


All whitening techniques can cause transitory sensitivity to hot and cold. This sensitivity occurs occasionally and not with all patients. The home whitening strips cause the least amount of sensitivity. The concentration is low, and the patient can determine how long they will keep the strips on before removing them. If a patient feels that their teeth are sensitive, to begin with; over-the-counter strips and custom home bleaching trays are a good place to start.


2. In Home custom whitening trays


These trays are fabricated in the dental office. They are made from a clear flexible material. Impressions are taken, models are made and the trays are constructed in our laboratory at the office. They are custom-fitted for each patient. We have researched extensively to find the best whitening gel for these trays. We want a gel that whitens the teeth and creates minimal tooth sensitivity. The Opalescence system was found to be the best.


The gel is 35% peroxide. The trays correctly cover all the teeth in the mouth ( so that all the teeth lighten equally). The trays are to be worn for one hour a day for two weeks. What’s great about the trays is that for upper and lower jaws with the gel the fee is only $350. The trays can be used later on with new gel for touch-ups. Sensitivity is low because You the patient will determine how long you will wear the trays. Additionally, your dentist can regulate the amount and concentration of the gel. 


The whitening effect is much greater than with the strips. We use these trays by themselves and in conjunction with the in-office Zoom whitening.


3. Zoom Whitening Treatment In New York City


Zoom whitening is the gold standard for teeth bleaching. This is an in-office procedure. The whitening takes place in fifteen-minute intervals, usually three-four per session. The immediate results are startling; patients enjoy the quick change to a whiter smile. One session is all that most patients need. In fact, we recommend that once a year is more than enough to maintain a very bright smile. Zoom results can last anywhere from one to four years. The results are dependent upon the patient’s habits and home care. If one has a diet with lots of coffee, tea, red wine or smokes the results will not last as long. Zoom uses a concentration of 25% peroxide. Zoom also uses a very high-powered blue LED light. This light acts as a catalyst to the peroxide so that stains are removed and whitening is achieved. 


Our Zoom specialist will paint a protective barrier over your gums as well as provide you with very cool sunglasses to ensure your safety and comfort during the procedure. The Zoom treatment does not harm your enamel or tooth in any way. We prefer the Zoom to laser treatments, because Zoom whitens more quickly, more evenly (whole mouth at one time), and does not generate as much heat as infrared lasers do. The fee for a complete mouth of Zoom whitening (bleaching) is $550. Sensitivity after bleaching occurs in about 40% of our patients. The use of Sensodyne toothpaste before and after the procedure does much to mitigate the sensitivity. Occasionally we prescribe Tylenol or ibuprofen post-operatively for one day. 


Zoom whitening is our go-to, in-office procedure to brighten one’s smile in a quick and expeditious manner. The custom trays may be used in conjunction with the Zoom procedure to ensure that the results last a long time. 


We have found that whitening toothpaste, rinses, and floss are minimally effective. In general, they are a waste of your resources. In fact, some whitening toothpaste has very high abrasion levels which can be detrimental to your teeth.


Teeth Whitening at 172 NYC Dental


At 172 NYC Dental, we offer complimentary teeth whitening with any dental treatment over $5,000. So visit us for a free consultation and begin your journey to brighten your smile and feel good about yourself! Call us at 646-921-5541 to make an appointment today. 

About Dr. Benjamin Ahn

Meet Dr. Benjamin Ahn, a top-rated general, and cosmetic dentist and one of the best Invisalign dentist practicing at 209 NYC Dental, a multi-specialty dental practice in Midtown East Manhattan.

Questions? Contact us online or give us a call at 646-921-5541 today!
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