Your Teeth Whitening Options And What They Can Do For You

on November 20, 2013

One of the simplest ways to improve your smile is through teeth whitening. With all the various products on the market, choosing which to use can be a pretty daunting task. This week we’ll walk you through three different options available.

Over-the-counter Whitening Products

Over the counter whitening products are the easiest to purchase and the most affordable. Commonly these come in the form of whitening strips or prefilled trays. These products work best when used often. Over-the-counter whitening products usually use hydrogen peroxide to break up staining compounds that have worked their way into the porous surface of your teeth. As these products are not custom made for your teeth, often they are messy and ill-fitting. Some of the sensitivity experienced during whitening comes from the whitening gel getting on your gums, these over the counter products often make this difficult to avoid.

If you are looking for an inexpensive way to whiten your teeth and you have the time, these products may work for you. They work best for people with heavily stained teeth or for quick touch ups after you have professionally whitened.

Custom Whitening Trays

Custom whitening trays are made by taking a mold of your teeth. At our Evanston dentist office we also add a reservoir/space for the whitening gel. This allows the gel to sit on your tooth surface and not squeeze out onto your gums. Each dental office provides different whitening gel to accompany the custom whitening trays. We have found Opalescence to work the best for our patients. This gel uses carbimide peroxide to remove the staining components from your teeth. The gel comes in several different strengths, but we usually recommend a 15% carbimide peroxide concentration to avoid experiencing tooth sensitivity.

This option has an initial expense that is more than the over the counter products, but the individual syringes of whitening gel are comparable in cost to the over-the-counter products. Our whitening trays work well to whiten your teeth no matter what level of stain you have. More importantly, they work very well for maintaining your white smile with less mess than the over the counter products.

Our Evanston dental office also offers a whitening club to our patients. To find out more about joining our whitening club, call our office at (847) 864-8151.

In-Office Whitening

As the title suggests, this whitening option is done at your dental office by your dentist. At our office, the procedure takes just over an hour and uses a chemically activated whitening treatment. We use Opalescence Boost as our in-office whitening treatment. This product uses a high concentration of hydrogen peroxide to remove stains from your teeth, but it also contains potassium nitrate and fluoride to help decrease sensitivity and strengthen your teeth while it whitens.

This option is great for patients who are looking for a drastic change in a short period of time. The cost is higher than both other options, but the results are visible in less than an hour. For heavy staining more than one visit may be required. You can maintain your new white teeth by using an at home whitening system (either custom trays or over the counter products). At our office, custom whitening trays are included with the in-office whitening so that you can keep you smile white even after you leave our office.


No matter what whitening product you are looking for, you should expect some sensitivity. Removing the staining compounds from your teeth opens up the tubules of your enamel and allows greater access to the nerve of your tooth. Using a sensitive or fluoride toothpaste will help, as they help block the tubules without staining your teeth. We recommend Sensodyne toothpaste for sensitivity. If you experience continued sensitivity, contact your dentist to find out if there is an underlying cause that should be corrected.

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