Taking care of your pearly whites is a ’round-the-clock thing, you just can’t do it once or twice a year. This is especially true for teeth whitening treatments. While there is no discounting the level of effectiveness that in-office whitening procedure has on your teeth, according to the pros like Beverly Hills, CA cosmetic dentist Laurence Rifkin, DDS, “Using over-the-counter adjunct products will help reduce the number of in-office procedures you may need to whiten your teeth.”
You May Also Like: Top Cosmetic Dentists Debunk the 5 Biggest Teeth Myths
Why At-Home Treatments Help
So, why incorporate DIY whitening? “Over time teeth will re-stain for the same reasons they stain in the first place,” says Dr. Rifkin. “Foods contain a chemical called tannins,” adds Rockville, MD cosmetic dentist Joe Kravitz, DDS. “Tannins continuously have the opportunity to stain your teeth as you eat food and drink.”
“Since the consumption of staining liquid drinks such as coffee, tea, green tea, green juice, red juice and red wine has increased dramatically, it is important to have a maintenance program at home to keep the teeth white,” explains Beverly Hills cosmetic dentist Kourosh Maddahi, DDS.
San Francisco cosmetic dentist Swati Agarwal, DDS says that monthly at-home touch-ups will keep your smile brighter for longer.
What the Pros Recommend
In lieu of in-office options, we asked dentists to give us their best suggestions for whitening at home. “OTC products can be a hit or miss,” says Dr. Agarwal. “I personally do not use them, but some of my patients have had good results with Crest Whitestrips ($45). For best results, I recommended getting custom trays and whitening gel from your dentist. The custom trays fit your teeth perfectly and can target the gel in the right spot. This prevents gel from leaking into your gums and burning them.”
New York cosmetic dentist Pia Lieb, DDS agrees with the custom tray approach: “The only at-home system that I personally like is the custom-made trays that fit perfectly your teeth with high-quality whitening gel that you can get from your dentist. They come in different strengths depending on the results you are looking for and are controlled and efficient.”
Dr. Rifkin says the effectiveness of the whitening treatment is based on both time and the concentration of application: “The higher the concentration of carbamide or hydrogen peroxide and the longer the application, the more whitening will occur. It’s also important to use a neutral pH product so that the acidity, which can harm the enamel, is reduced. Otherwise, it’s personal preference whether you prefer whitening strips, rinses, toothpastes or devices.”
For patients with sensitivities, Dr. Maddahi recommends his own Lumineux Oral Essentials Whitening smile care line ($38) because it is formulated without hydrogen peroxide. “It’s a good option because it whitens without causing tooth sensitivity or gum irritation,” he says.