Your Guide to Top-Quality, Affordable DentistryTeeth whitening is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to improve the appearance of your smile. Bleaching trays, whitening strips, and paint-on whiteners can do the job, and do-it-yourselfers can achieve results that are as good as professional treatments, although the at-home process may take longer (because over-the-counter products use bleaches of a lesser strength compared to dentist-applied whiteners).
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Although at-home treatments cost less, some patients prefer the convenience and immediacy of professional teeth whitening treatments. Dentists use a number of patented, brand-name systems for teeth whitening; examples include Zoom, Opalescence, BriteSmile, LaserSmile, Sapphire Chairside, Beyond Power, LumaCool, NUPRO White Gold/Illumine, and Niveous.
While each option has its own unique features, all are alike in fundamental ways. The process begins with a thorough cleaning of the teeth and an assessment of the degree of whiteness that is possible for an individual patient. The dentist polishes the teeth to remove surface stains and then applies a peroxide bleaching agent to the teeth that are to be whitened.
You probably won’t travel internationally just to have your teeth whitened, but if the opportunity arises to save money abroad and come home with a brighter smile, you may be tempted to indulge. Just make sure your dentist is experienced in the technique and you’ve done enough homework in advance to know that the system employed is acceptable to you.
You may or may not, for example, want a laser light "activated" system; be sure you know what you are getting before you settle into the dentist’s chair. Do some cost-comparison shopping, too.
Getting your teeth cleaned and polished before you leave home may not save you any time or money. Your out-of-country dentist may insist on repeating the process. Make sure you schedule enough time in your travel plans for more than one dental visit. Maximal whitening may require two or three appointments.
Non-US dentists practicing abroad can apply for affiliate membership in the American Dental Association (ADA). Such membership is available to dentists who are practicing in a country other than the United States and who do not have an active US dental license.
The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) runs an accreditation program that serves professionals practicing in the US and abroad. Applicants for accreditation complete a rigorous credentialing process that includes a written examination, oral examination, and peer review of clinical cases.
Last updated on 2 August 2011