At-Home vs. Professional Teeth Whitening
If your teeth are particularly discolored or yellowed, you may have thought about giving whitening a try. While the decision to try whitening is easy, choosing a product that meets your needs is not. There’s an array of over-the-counter whitening tools you can buy in your local drugstore, but are these effective?
If you’re truly serious about whitening, you might have even considered professional whitening at a dental office. However, is it worth the higher cost and trip to the dentist? Luckily, we’ve quite knowledge about the whitening trend and can give you the answers to these questions.
What Is At-Home Whitening?
At-home whitening can come in many different forms, from whitening rinses to whitening toothpaste. However, the most effective treatments are gel strips or whitening trays. With gel strips, you’ll usually place a thin strip over your teeth once a day and leave it on for around 30 to 45 minutes. This method usually takes 10 to 20 days to see results. Whitening trays are similar, in that your fill them with a whitening gel and wear them on your teeth.
Overall, at-home treatments use a lower concentration of bleaching agent than a dentist’s treatment. Because of this, they will work, but will take weeks or months to do so.
What Is Professional Teeth Whitening?
With professional teeth whitening, your dentist will create a custom-fitted whitening tray that fits your mouth firm and tight. This is especially important if you have teeth that aren’t perfectly aligned. They will then fill this tray with a high-potency whitening solution and have you wear it under a light or heat source to speed up the bleaching process.
Because of the higher concentration, this method just takes a few visits to get the same results as daily, at-home bleaching. You might see immediate results.
Generally, in-office teeth whitening does have a higher price tag. However, because you’re getting such fast results with no follow-up required, the cost is justified. While at-home procedures are cheaper, you’ll need to use more of them to obtain the same results as a single professional treatment.
In fact, the average cost of professional whitening can range from just below $400 to just over $900, depending on where you live and the extent of your treatments. This covers both your upper and lower teeth. At-home kits, however, can start as low as $10 and go all the way up to $100 for stronger solutions.
Side Effects Comparison
Because at-home whitening trays are mass produced, they may not be as comfortable and form-fitting as the trays your dentist creates for you. Therefore, you may experience sore gums from gel that leaks out or from the plastic digging into your mouth. Additionally, because of the duration of at-home procedures, your gums and teeth may begin to develop sensitivity to touch and hot and cold. This can result in a shooting pain when confronted with these stimuli. While this is only temporary, it can be painful and annoying.
For patients who notice increased sensitivity, we recommend rinsing the bleaching trays then using them to treat the problem. Fill the clean trays with toothpaste for sensitive teeth and wear them for 10 to 15 minutes. This should help reduce extra sensitivity.
Professional whitening, on the other hand, has far less side effects. Because a dentist will be supervising your treatment from start to finish, they can make sure that everything is going as planned. They’ll check the fit of your tray before beginning and make sure that the gel is not causing any discomfort.
Studies have shown that both at-home and professional whitening produce great results. In fact, one study looked at 25 different whitening products and found that the best option was an overnight at-home tray system. The only real difference between this type of product and in-office whitening was the speed of results, which the professional whitening was the winner.
Another study looked at 60 participants with a tooth shade of C2 or darker who received either at-home, 16 percent carbamide peroxide treatments or in-office, 35 percent hydrogen peroxide treatments. Both forms of treatment were equally effective in this study, with most participants maintaining their whiter teeth for at least two years.
In the end, it’s up to you to decide which form of whitening is best for your needs. However, if you need more help choosing between the two or want to learn more about your options, call us now at 610-692-4440 to schedule your consultation. We’ll be happy to provide an overview of our whitening services to help you get the smile you’ve always dreamed of.