Over time, your teeth can lose their luster, becoming dark, discolored, or stained. This can happen because of lifestyle (drinking coffee, smoking, and diet) or injury or illness. No matter the cause, teeth whitening is one of the most effective ways to get that dazzling, white smile you deserve.

But with so many options available, should you whiten your teeth at home or go to the cosmetic dentist? We compare these two options so you can make an informed decision.

What is Teeth Whitening?

Teeth whitening is the process of removing stains or discoloration from the teeth without causing any erosion to the surface. Teeth whitening products contain peroxide (hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide), which removes both surface and deep stains on teeth and can cause teeth to become brighter than their natural shade. Teeth whitening is ideal for yellow stains, but brown teeth and teeth with gray tones may not respond well to the whitening procedure.

Teeth Whitening at Home

At-home whiteners are popular because they’re easy to use and relatively cheap. However, they contain a low concentration of the bleaching agent and will take much longer to be effective.

There are three main options for tooth whitening products to use at home: 

  • Teeth whitening trays: These teeth whitening trays are typically made of a flexible material that molds to your teeth. Some teeth whitening trays are pre-filled with a peroxide-based whitening agent, while others come with syringes of whitening gel that can be dispensed as needed. You can wear the tray for a couple of hours a day or overnight, depending on the degree of discoloration and desired level of whitening. 
  • Teeth whitening strips: These are skinny strips coated with teeth whitening ingredients such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. You apply the strips directly to your teeth and leave them on for about 30 minutes.
  • Teeth whitening toothpaste or mouthwash: These are improved versions of the conventional toothpaste/mouthwashes containing gentle polishing or chemical agents that provide additional stain removal effectiveness. They remove surface stains only and do not contain bleach. It also takes repeated use for teeth whitening toothpaste/mouthwashes to show visible results, usually weeks to months.

Teeth Whitening at the Dentist

In-office teeth whitening process is the quickest and most effective way to whiten your teeth. The dentist applies a high-concentration peroxide gel to your teeth and points a special light at it for a few 10-15 minute intervals until we reach your desired shade of white. Your gum tissues are covered with a thin sheet of rubber or a protective gel to protect them from the peroxide. Generally, the bleaching solution remains on the teeth for 15 to 20 minutes.

Benefits Of In-Office Teeth Whitening

  • Safer: Our skilled dental team will customize your dose and supervise your professional whitening procedure to ensure you achieve your desired results without causing tooth sensitivity or harming soft tissue. 
  • More effective: In-office teeth whitening uses a stronger bleaching solution that produces dramatic results after the first treatment. With at-home products, you’ll have to wait weeks to see any improvement.
  • Faster: Unlike at-home whitening products, those used by dentists have a higher concentration of whitening agents resulting in faster and more reliable results.

Does Teeth Whitening Cause Tooth Sensitivity?

Teeth whitening is considered safe when performed as directed. Teeth whitening can cause tooth sensitivity. This happens when the peroxide in the whitener gets through the enamel to the soft layer dentin and irritates your nerve. Whitening sensitivity lasts no longer than a day or two.

Cost of Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening cost varies depending on the type of treatment. Generally, at-home teeth whitening products are affordable, often costing $20 to $100. On the other hand, in-office whitening costs around $300 and $800 per visit, but it offers the benefit of being performed by an experienced dental professional, helping to ensure that you get the immediate results you’re looking for.

Ready for a Brighter Smile?

While at-home teeth whitening may be cheaper, in-office teeth whitening offers a much safer, more effective, and faster way of whitening your teeth and enhancing your smile. Contact us today to schedule your appointment at our Greenville, SC dental office!