Tooth Whitening Options

Cosmetic Dentistry for Beverly Hills & Los Angeles, CA

Pros and Cons of In-Office and Over-the-Counter Procedures

Smile-whitening now ranks among the most common procedures conducted by cosmetic dentists, especially among patients ages twenty to fifty. Beverage and tobacco stains, along with the yellowing of age, are facts of life, but they need not be permanent. Consumers face a number of whitening options. In order to make an informed decision, it is prudent to consider the advantages and disadvantages of different tooth whitening options.

1. Over-the-counter options: whitening toothpastes, rinses, and bleach treatments, and strips:


  • The user may see a minor change of color.
  • Over-the-counter products generally cost less and are conveniently available.


  • Most over-the counter products work very slowly and never accomplish dramatic results. At-home bleach trays can take around two weeks. Some require two to four hours per day for three to six weeks.
  • Some may contain abrasive mechanisms or acidic content that can wear away at tooth enamel if overused.
  • Careless application may lead to uneven whitening.

2. Consulting your dentist has clear advantages:


  • Cosmetic dentist Dr. Sands professionally examines your teeth, and will judge the type and extent of staining before recommending a whitening technique.
  • Not all teeth are created equal. Dr. Sands uses a Vita shade guide, which determines the degree of discoloration and staining of your teeth as well as the natural shade of your teeth. Depending on the severity of the discoloration of your teeth, you and Dr. Sands will discuss to what degree your teeth can be whitened.
  • Dr. Sands recommends only products and treatments approved by the American Dental Association and tested by his own experience with clients.
  • In-office treatments such as Zoom draw on cutting-edge technology to create dramatic results in much less time.
  • In-office laser bleaching can be performed instantly.
  • If you need the convenience of an at-home treatment, Dr. Sands can supervise a take-home bleaching process.


  • In-office treatments carry a higher one-time expense.
  • In office treatments are not conducted in the comfort of your own home.

Types of In-Office Treatments

Two common in-office tooth whitening treatments include laser bleaching and custom-fit tray bleaching. Dr. Sands offers both at his Beverly Hills dental office.

Laser Bleaching

During laser bleaching, such as Zoom, Dr. Sands applies a bleaching gel to your teeth in a relaxed environment. A soft blue activating light then activates the crystals in the gel, which absorb energy from the light. The crystals penetrate enamel to increase the lightening effect on the teeth. The process usually takes about an hour.


  • The procedure is safe, efficient, and dramatically effective.
  • Whiteness of teeth may increase by up to fourteen shades. The whitening coloration is more likely to be perfectly consistent.
  • The results can last for years.


  • The sudden change of color is likely to be immediately noticed by other people.
  • The one-time cost is higher than the repeated small cost of purchasing over-the-counter options.

Custom-fit Tray Bleaching

Dr. Sands custom-fits the tray to the shape of your teeth by taking an impression. You then take this tray home with you.


  • The whitening is more gradual and may seem more natural.
  • The tray costs less than in-office bleaching


  • This procedure may require multiple visits to our office, creating greater expense.
  • Results may vary, and you might experience increased sensitivity as a result of using the whitening gel. Not all forms of discoloration can be eliminated by the tray alone. Maximum whitening effect is usually limited to about five shades.

If you have further questions about tooth whitening options, in-office or out, or would like to schedule an initial consultation, contact our tooth whiteningexperts today.