How to Use Professional At-Home Teeth Whitening Kits

Professional at-home teeth whitening kits are those obtained from your dentist which contain a high concentration of either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.They are slightly more expensive than over-the-counter whitening kits ($100 to $400 compared to $20 to $100, respectively) but are less pricey than the average in-office procedure ($650) & up.

Woman with at-home teeth whitening tray
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Custom-fitted dental trays are included to keep the whitening solution on the surface of the tooth and limit the exposure of the solution to the sensitive gum (gingival) area. Professional in-home kits are relatively easy to use and offer exceptional results after just one to two weeks of use.

Using Home Whitening Kits

Professional in-home whitening kits aren't something you can pull off the shelf. Custom-made trays (dental cups fitted to the contour of your teeth) must be manufactured in order to ensure the whitening solution are properly distributed. Without these, a lot of the solution could be wasted or put onto areas of the mouth that may be damaged.

There are several steps to obtaining and using in-home teeth whitening kit:

  • Impressions would first be taken of both your upper and lower teeth using non-toxic dental putty. These would be sent to a specialty lab to make the trays. This part of the process takes around one to two weeks from start to finish.
  • In the meantime, the initial shade of your teeth would be recorded in your dental chart for comparison when the whitening is completed.
  • When the trays are ready, an appointment would be set to show you how to properly dispense and apply the solution and other instructions needed to obtain the optimal results.
  • Before starting the at-home procedure, you would need to brush, floss, and rinse completely.
  • The procedure itself is typically performed an hour per day for two weeks, Certain brands can be worn overnight. You would need to avoid eating, drinking, or smoking while wearing the trays and continue to do the same for 30 minutes after.
  • After two weeks of treatment, a follow-up appointment would be made to track your results and see how they compare to your reference shade.
  • The additional whitening solution can be used for touch-ups if needed.

Professional In-Office Teeth Whitening

If do-it-yourself whitening is not your cup of tea, you can always opt for professional in-office whitening. It is a more expensive procedure but one that offers more reliable results. Besides cost, the one downside is that you would need to make multiple visits to the dentist's office.

With that being said, professional whitening delivers optimum results over a relatively short amount of time. The process is pretty straightforward:

  • Before starting, your teeth would be polished to remove any plaque.
  • Your mouth would then be isolated with gauze and a barrier placed along the gumline to protect it from the solution.
  • Your teeth would then be coated with a whitening solution on the front surface only.
  • Some whitening products require a curing light or laser to activate the peroxide. The solution would be left on for 30 to 60 minutes, or reapplied occasionally for up to one hour, depending on the brand.
  • Once the optimum shade has been reached (or the maximum time has passed), the teeth would be rinsed. A fluoride application may be used to help ease any tooth sensitivity.
  • Additional visits would be scheduled until the desired shade is reached.
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  • Carey, C. "Tooth Whitening: What We Now Know." J Evid Based Dent Pract. 2014; 14 Suppl:70-76. DOI: 10.1016/j.jebdp.2014.02.006.