Teeth Whitening at Home Versus the Dentist: What’s Better for You?
If you’re like most people, the number one dental concern on your mind is how you can return your teeth to a pearly, white glow. Whitening treatments are among the most requested and commonly performed dental procedures, whether at home or at a dentist’s office.
But what’s truly more effective? Hopping over to the dentist to whiten up your ivories or procuring a box of whitening strips at the chemist’s? Luckily, you don’t have to merely guess anymore. Consider this your all-inclusive guide to the world of tooth whitening. Breaking down the benefits and downsides by results, cost, and ease of use, find out whether whitening should remain the domain of the professionals or whether using a solution at home is right for you.
The effectiveness of a tooth whitening regimen is what truly matters most. And it’s the one area that newcomers to the whole process, regardless of the method they settle on, wonder about.
The effectiveness of your typical whitening treatment largely depends on what’s in it. As you might know, most commercial and professional sets are formulated with either hydrogen peroxide or with carbamide peroxide. These chemicals work by breaking down the molecules in your teeth down into smaller pieces, making it easier for the surface of your teeth to reflect light, making your smile appear whiter.
The higher the percentage of these compounds, the more effective they tend to be. A commercial kit from the chemist might feature a percentage of anywhere from 1 to 10%, depending on the kind of product and treatment it is. A dentist guided treatment can feature a compound with over 30% of the stuff.
By this alone, the dentist wins out. While an at-home treatment can do the job, it may be best to stick with the dentist if your teeth are extremely discolored or stained.
Ease of Use
Thankfully, most at-home kits are simple to use, at least in theory. All most people have to do is layer a strip over their teeth or apply a bit of gel.
But as with many at-home medical or cleansing procedures, it can be all too easy to misread instructions or improperly apply a product. For instance, accidentally applying product to your gums can result in a painful experience. Leaving whitening strips or bleaching products on too long has the potential to damage the structure of your teeth and weaken your enamel.
Having a professional oversee the application of the treatment, on the other hand, takes the guesswork out of it. But should you decide to stick with an at-home set, make sure you consult your dentist on proper application and don’t be afraid to ask them about any concerns or issues you may be having.
It’s no secret that going to the dentist isn’t always cheap. Without dental insurance, visiting the dentist can sometimes take a bit of a bite out of a patient’s wallet. For a cleaning, dentists may charge anywhere from $20 to over $200, depending on everything from the dentist themselves to the method of the bleaching to how extensive the clean-up needs to be.
In this way, using an at-home product can often be a little less expensive, and tempting to use. A box of Crest 3-D white strips can, for instance, cost about $60 and have multiple strips in the box.
So what is the best route for you? Considering the effectiveness of the treatment and how concerned you are with being able to apply it easily, you may want to consider going in to see your dentist and scheduling a cleaning if possible for a more straight-forward and extensive experience, especially if your teeth are extremely yellowed or stained. But if your teeth are only slightly discolored and money is a concern, most at-home whitening treatments still offer effective results, proven you apply them with care.
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