Wedgewood Dental

What Are My Options For Teeth Whitening?

What Are My Options For Teeth Whitening?

A beautiful, clean, and happy smile is integral to our appearance and can increase self-esteem and self-confidence. We put much time and energy into keeping our teeth clean and healthy by brushing them daily and visiting our dentists for check-ups and cleanings regularly. Even with excellent dental hygiene and maintenance, our teeth can still show signs of discoloration over time, causing our pearly whites to slowly yellow. 

You can purchase many products over the counter to help whiten your teeth, but they are often less effective than professional teeth whitening solutions. Your dentist can offer whitening solutions performed during an office visit or provide a take-home option that is more effective than an over-the-counter solution. Let’s explore both options and why teeth whitening has become so popular.

Leading causes of tooth discoloration

Teeth will naturally discolor over time; as we age, our teeth slowly turn from pearly white to various darker shades. This is a natural process that we all go through. 

In combination with aging, our food and beverage consumption can also contribute to teeth discoloration, especially when we regularly consume darker-colored fruits and vegetables (beets, cherries, broccoli, and spinach), red wine, dark sodas, and coffee. 

Smoking and using other tobacco products can accelerate and contribute to teeth yellowing. 

Other causes include poor dental hygiene (not brushing often enough or with proper technique), illness, genetics, medications, and trauma which causes a tooth to break or chip and can also cause damage to a tooth’s enamel.

In-office whitening 

There are many systems a dentist can use for teeth whitening in their office. Regardless of which method or solution is used, the procedure is typically pretty straightforward and only requires one trip to the dentist. Teeth will typically whiten two or three shades on a scale of sixteen. Of course, you’ll be able to let your dentist know your preferences when it comes to how bright you want your smile to be.

Before a whitening procedure, your dentist will typically want to perform an exam to ensure all teeth are healthy, check for signs of gum disease, and that no decay or broken teeth are present. They will also want to do a professional cleaning to remove any plaque on the teeth, as it could cause the whitening solution to be less effective. Once your dentist has decided that you are a good candidate for an in-office whitening procedure, the process can begin. 

Often, a device known as a retractor is inserted into your mouth, pushing back your cheeks and lips so that all of your teeth are openly visible. Then your dentist will apply a material to your gums that will protect them from irritation the whitening solution can sometimes cause. 

Next, the whitening solution will be applied to the teeth; these solutions contain a higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide than over-the-counter options, which lends to their higher success in whitening teeth. Throughout the procedure, more of the solution may be applied as needed. Some solutions also incorporate a special light that will focus on the teeth and is intended to help improve the whitening outcome.

Once the procedure is complete, the retractor will be removed. Your dentist will have you rinse and provide a fluoride rinse to help strengthen the enamel post-treatment and lower any tooth sensitivity. Then they will check the results and how many shades your teeth have whitened. 

The color of your teeth post-whitening will be more accurate after two or three days. Depending on the whitening results and your goal, you may want another in-office whitening visit, or your dentist can send you home with an at-home solution to help continue the whitening process.

At-home teeth whitening

Your dentist is sometimes also able to provide you with an at-home whitening option. First, they will make an imprint of your teeth in dental putty. They will use this to create custom trays that fit your teeth perfectly. They will show you how to use the trays and whitening solution in the office before sending you home for your whitening regimen.

The hydrogen peroxide solution used for this method is not typically as powerful as the one used during an in-office procedure. However, it is still more concentrated than any over-the-counter solution. Usually, this at-home solution will be used daily at home for about two weeks in hour-long increments or sometimes even overnight.

Over-the-counter teeth whitening solutions are less successful than professional solutions. Dentists can provide quality solutions in-office visits or a take-home method allowing you to whiten your teeth from the comfort of your home. These options may be more expensive than over-the-counter options but also have a better whitening outcome. With either option, you will be getting a brighter and whiter smile which can increase your confidence in your smile.


713 Salem Avenue Suite A, Rolla MO 65401

Office Hours

MON 7:30 am - 3:30 pm

TUE Closed

WED - THU 7:30 am - 3:30 pm

FRI - SUN Closed

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Phone: (573) 368-7325


1116 S. Main Street, Salem MO 65560

Office Hours

MON Closed

TUE 9:00 am - 4:00 pm

WED - THU Closed

FRI 9:00 am - 3:00 pm

SAT - SUN Closed

Get in Touch


Phone: (573) 729-7701