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What is the difference between in-chair whitening and take-home whitening kits?


In chair whitening and take home whitening are two fairly different options which can help you achieve a brighter smile. Both options should be prescribed by a dental professional to ensure your treatment is safe and does not damage your teeth or gums.

Take Home whitening

Take home whitening involves taking moulds of your teeth that allow us to make custom fitted whitening trays. Syringes of bleaching material are provided which are carefully dispensed into your whitening trays, as instructed by your dentist. These trays need to be worn consecutively for approximately 2 weeks, either during the day or at night, depending on the bleaching system provided. Compliance is especially important to see results! 

In-chair whitening

In-chair whitening is completed within the dental surgery to provide instant results and takes roughly an hour and a half to complete. The procedure begins with protecting the cheeks/lips and gum and then applying whitening gel onto tooth surface. A blue light is placed over the teeth to activate and promote whitening. As the gel is stronger, in chair whitening can cause temporary sensitivity, depending on the nature of your teeth, with the sensitivity lingering after the procedure up to 24-48hrs. The sensation can however be managed with simple pain relief medication, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen and sensitive toothpaste.

Do I need to see a dentist prior to booking myself in for whitening?

Prior to undertaking whitening, we advise a check-up and clean to make sure your teeth are healthy. Your dentist may recommend some dental treatment prior to ensure the whitening results are optimum or to reduce sensitivity. Clean teeth are very important, as the calculus and plaque built up on your teeth prevents diffusion of the whitening agent.

Usually any fillings or fixed prosthetic work in the posterior segments of the mouth are recommended to be completed prior to making custom fitted trays as the shape of the teeth may be affected from having treatment completed.

As the shade of fillings and prosthetic dental treatment such as crowns and bridges cannot be altered after placement, in some cases where anterior fillings or prosthetic work are required, your dentist may recommend whitening first and then allowing some time for the colour to settle. Once the colour settles, dental treatment can then be completed to match against your whiter natural teeth.

Hence, in order to treatment plan properly, a check-up is advised!

Are the results permanent?

Unfortunately, results are not permanent. Our teeth naturally take up stains from our oral environment, eventually discolouring. This may be from what we eat or drink and certain lifestyle choices such as smoking. Following whitening treatment, it is advised to not have any dark coloured food or drinks for 48hrs as this is a critical period when stain uptake is higher. To prolong results, we advise reducing consumption of dark coloured food and drinks in general or adopting techniques such as rinsing with water after foods with dark pigments or drinking coffee and tea through a straw.

So which one should I choose to do?

If compliance and time is perceived to be difficult, in chair whitening, which provides instant results may be better option.

If you can commit to daily use of your whitening trays, you may prefer the less sensitive option of take home whitening kits. Take home whitening kits are also a great option to top up the brightness in-between in chair whitening sessions.

Ultimately, it is up to personal preference and a discussion with your dentist can help you make an informed decision.

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