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Tooth whitening at the mall…have you seen the light?

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Have you ever gone to a mall and seen the kiosks for tooth whitening?  They are almost always cheaper than the tooth whitening at your dentist’s office and they do use that blue light that they used on “Extreme Makeover.”  Why not give it a try?

Mall whitening does use the same chemical (hydrogen peroxide gel) as dentist office whitening. Actually, over-the-counter whitening strips like Crest Whitestrips also use this ingredient.  We all use hydrogen peroxide because it works.  However, I can think of a few problems that can be avoided if you whiten your teeth at the dentist’s office.

  • Some people aren’t good candidates for whitening.  If you’ve had fillings, crowns or bridge work on your front teeth whitening might not be a great choice for you.  Often it can be a great choice in combination with a well thought out treatment plan from your dentist.  Will the folks in the mall tell you this?
  • Whitening causes sensitivity.  If you whiten you will probably notice cold and sometimes sweet causing some pain.  This is normal due to the chemical process that goes on when you whiten and is usually not long lasting.  There are treatments prior to and after whitening that can reduce this sensitivity significantly.  Your dentist can best help you with this.
  • Who is going to help you if you have a problem?  Can the folks at the kiosk see you for follow up treatment, apply desensitizers or help you?  Before you have whitening done in the mall ask them if there’s a number you can call if you have an emergency.  Then email me a photo of their face after you’ve asked them. :-)
    • FYI…if you or anyone you know ever has a problem with whitening whether it was done at the mall or a dentist’s office I am HAPPY to help.  I’m available to treat emergencies at (989) 488-7665.  Just because I think mall whitening is unwise I will NEVER say I told you so!
  • The light doesn’t do anything.  Peer reviewed research has proven over and over again that the light does nothing to enhance the whitening process.  Mall kiosks aren’t the only ones who have decided to use this marketing technique.  Many dentists have paid a fair amount of money for bleaching lights that don’t do anything, but they will use them to market the service.  This is dishonest.  Period.
  • The people running the kiosks aren’t dentists.  They are not trained to diagnose or treat dental conditions.  The technicality that they cite for being able to do bleaching without proper training is that they never apply the whitening chemicals to the teeth.  They simply fill the trays and hand them to their “patients.”
  • The chemicals that are used to whiten teeth are serious.  They aren’t dangerous when handled properly but they can cause burns to the lips and gums.  The protocols for in office bleaching at the dentist office focus on reducing this risk by isolating the teeth from the lips and gums.
  • In-chair whitening alone yields less dramatic results.  Most of the dramatic whitening (and sensitivity) from “in chair” bleaching comes from dehydrating the teeth.  “In chair” can jump start good results, but long lasting whitening is going to require that you add “in home” trays.  The best trays are custom made by a dental office.

Why do people choose to do whitening in the mall?  My best guess is because of the cost.  Whitening in the dental office can be expensive.  We charge $440 for whitening.  This includes pre-appointment impressions for densensitizing/whitening trays, an in-chair whitening treatment (if you choose) and at home whitening supplies along with any follow up treatment you might need.  But if you mention that you read about whitening on our website and you can get the same whitening for $299*!

Teeth_whitening_420-420x0  Did I mention that our in chair whitening treatment allows you to watch television while you whiten and enjoy our sparkling personalities?  Also, you won’t have to wear silly orange glasses.

Tell me what you think!  I would love to know your thoughts on this entry or the website as a whole.  Feel free to comment here or email me at alan@meadfamilydental.com.