woman holding at-home teeth whitening tray

Teeth whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic treatments that patients ask us about. Luckily, it is also one of the easiest and most affordable.

There are two types of professional whitening offered by mosts dentists: in-office and at-home. While the in-office treatment can be done quickly, usually in a single visit that lasts about an hour, it is the more costly choice. The at-home variety tends to be more popular with those who are on a budget and don’t mind a little delayed gratification.

Two things make a custom at-home teeth whitening from the dentist kit custom. First is the trays. Whitening trays are clear rubber or plastic trays that are molded to fit your teeth perfectly. They look a lot light clear orthodontic aligners or retainers, but are made from most softer material.

Next is the whitening gel. All teeth bleaching products (with the exception of toothpastes) work using a form of peroxide that penetrates the surface layers of teeth and breaks up stains. The difference between whitening treatments is how highly concentrated the peroxide in the whitening gel is. In-office whitening gels have the highest percentage of peroxide (40%), followed by at-home gels (10%-35%), and over-the-counter drugstore whitening strips (10-14%).

Tooth whitening peroxide is a powerful chemical, which is why the stronger varieties should only be used by a dental professional or with their specific instructions. The strength of gel we recom$mend for your at-home kit depends on your oral health condition and how you answer questions about sensitivity, diet, and your whitening goals. We use this information to determine whether you’re more suited for a gentler or a more powerful whitening gel.

Once your trays are ready, we’ll give you several tubes of whitening gel and go over instructions. Here are the basics: push down on the tube’s plunger to gently apply a small bead of gel into each tooth’s space in the tray. Place the trays on your teeth. If any of the gel gets on your gums, remove the trays and wipe away the excess from both your gums and the tray. A cottons swab is a useful tool for wiping away extra gel.

How long you wear your trays will depend on the strength of your gel and the desired results. We will give you these instructions when you receive your trays and gel. You should brush your teeth both before and after whitening. For maximum results eating and drinking foods than can contribute to staining, such as red wine, coffee, tea, and blueberries. In a few days or weeks, you’ll have a brighter, healthier-looking smile!