Professional teeth whitening systems: Which is the best one? - Pick a dentist, not a system.

In-office whitening products - Too much hype and not enough science.

With all of the advertising you see for professional teeth-whitening systems, you might actually think that it matters which product your dentist uses.

Well it might, to some minor degree. But due to the (often low-quality) research and case reports generated by many of the companies that make these products, you'd have a hard time making a scientific case for it. For example:

  • It's not always mentioned that in some whitening comparisons, while "statistically significant," the claims made aren't discernable to the human eye.
  • The "data on file" documentation that you sometimes see on manufacturer websites is only published there for a reason. They haven't been able to get this "research" accepted for publication in a dental journal.
  • Any advertising that boasts results in terms of number of "shades" of improvement, without stating specifically what dental shade guide has been used as the measure, should be considered suspect.

Don't shop for a whitening system, shop for a whitening dentist.

Here's how to pick the best whitener. Don't place your faith in a particular product, brand name or flashy advertising campaign. Pick the best dentist. They'll already be using a great whitener.

Look for the dentist who loves to whiten teeth.

Dentists, just like people in all types of jobs, have varying interests. And those dentists who are genuinely interested in the whitening-cosmetic aspect of dentistry will be the same ones who will:

  1. Pay attention to detail when performing bleaching treatments.
  2. Have a great curiosity about why treatments didn't work for someone and learn from it.
  3. Have a genuine interest in trying different products and knowing which works best in their hands.
  4. Discovering which products give great results but also tend to create the fewest side effects.

If you can find a dentist that has all of these issues covered, then you'll have found the best whitener (although we mean "whitener," as in a person who whitens teeth, not a product).

So, how do you find this kind of dentist?

a) Talk to people you know.

Word-of-mouth reports from satisfied patients can be great resource. Although we will say, patients tend to know more about how they were treated, as opposed to how their treatment results compare to what might be possible. Of course, a single dentist, having a large number of satisfied patient's, is a very good sign.

b) Look around at the dentist's office.

You can probably determine a lot just by looking around at a dentist's office. Does it seem to be a place where they mostly just "drill and fill"? Or does the cosmetic side of dentistry seem to be an important part of the practice? If they use a bleaching light, does it always seem to be stashed away in the same place when you're there, or maybe you've noticed it being used with other patients?

c) Talk to the doctor's staff.

Probably your best resource is just talking to the dentist's staff. The doctor's assistant will absolutely know how much of the dentist's time is spent performing whitening treatments. And they'll also have an opinion about how satisfied patients seem to be about with their results. A shrug and a curt "yeah, we whiten a lot of people's teeth" probably tells you all you need to know.

d) Don't look for or expect to get any guarantees.

It's unlikely that a dentist will be interested in giving you any type of guarantee about whitening results. So if you run into one who does, turn on your radar.

If they won't stop talking about how absolutely sure they are that you'll love your results, just ask them to write that promise in your chart for documentation purposes. If they do, or don't, will tell you a lot about what's coming out of their mouth.

Our overview of professional (in-office) whitening systems.

There are some differences in the specific details and protocol associated with the most-used professional systems. Most of the information we have to share is a FYI sort of thing. We provide it not so much to show you how different systems can be, but instead how similar they are.

And, like we mentioned above, this information may be of interest to you and help you to understand what to expect during treatments, but picking out a system isn't your job. Pick the best dentist. They'll have already picked out the best system.

In-office tooth whitening.
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