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Teeth Whitening 

Professional Teeth Whitening vs. Store Bought Kits: What’s the Best Option?

Discolored teeth are a common issue for many Americans. A straight, pearly white smile has become the coveted norm. But while Americans spend thousands of dollars on braces, professional teeth whitening often goes overlooked as a luxury expense. While some cost-effective solutions are attractive, there are downsides to the non-professional route that should be considered.

Here is a comparison of professional teeth whitening vs. store bought kits:

1.      Options

There are several options for store bought whitening solutions. At-home whitening kits can include anything from whitening toothpaste, strips and trays to paint on whiteners. Typically these items have a whitening gel with the active ingredient peroxide. The level of peroxide varies between products; peroxide levels in store-bought kits are much lower, around 7 percent, while dentist-grade levels can top 45%.

Whitening in the dentist’s office is executed with a combination of highly concentrated whitening agents that must be applied with professional supervision. Usually a special heating lamp is used to activate the agents to produce a more successful result.

Note: If you do choose a store-bought kit, be sure to choose one approved by the American Dental Association. Above all, read the directions carefully.

2.      Time

Commercially available kits can take several days to a month to start showing results. Consistency is key when using these kits, and it’s important to follow the directions. For example, Crest 3D Whitening Strips should be applied for 30 minutes each over a period of 20 days to achieve full results.

Professional whitening can guarantee results in a fraction of the time, typically in just 45-60 minutes. This time can also be broken up into sessions. At Signature Smiles, this 45-minute procedure is divided into separate 15-minute visits.  After the first visit, results are noticeable.

3.      Cost

At-home whitening kits range from $30-100. They are less likely to be effective as the ingredients in kits are not fully regulated and the chemical agent levels are much lower. This can lead to overuse of the product to achieve results.

Professional teeth whitening procedures can cost hundreds of dollars. According according to OkCopay data, which measured 16 metro areas across the nation, the average treatment price is $399.  However, the cost of a whitening procedure performed by a trained dentist and staff is much more likely to achieve safe and long-lasting results.

4.      Effectiveness

Overuse of white strips often goes unchecked as individuals try to achieve quick results. Since these kits are not tailor made for each individual, results can vary drastically and many people give up before the appropriate treatment time.

For example, if a person’s teeth are particularly unaligned, it may be much more difficult for a store-bought white strip to produce even results. However, a professional procedure can address any type of smile. Likewise, individuals with bonded or capped teeth will find that the artificial parts of their teeth may be a different color from natural, whitened teeth. A dentist can help provide direction on how to address such a color differential.

5.      Side Effects

As with any peroxide-based whitening, the two most common side effects are tooth sensitivity and gum irritation. Overuse or harsh ingredients can do damage to a tooth’s enamel, and ironically cause more discoloration in the long run.

Because white strips aren’t cut to the shape of your teeth – just a straight line on the top and bottom – the strip is usually applied on the teeth as well as the gum, which can lead to gum irritation. However, a dentist’s office can help provide a custom-made whitening process that can minimize this type of discomfort.

It’s best to check with your dentist before starting any regimen – home or professional. “Here is a comparison of professional teeth whitening vs store bought kits.”