Through the years, chewing can lead to small cracks, called tiny fissures, in the enamel of your teeth. As these cracks continue to accumulate food particles, the surface of your teeth can become yellowed and dull. Even worse, drinking certain beverages and smoking can further stain your teeth.

The good news is that you don’t have to avoid social situations or suffer from low self-esteem because of your discolored teeth with today’s procedures. The many options available have helped people regain their bright smiles of childhood. As an alternative to visiting a dentist, many people choose at-home tooth whitening kits including toothpastes, mouthwashes, strips, and other over the counter remedies. This article explores the advantages and disadvantages of both at-home and in-office treatments.

The Strength Of The Solutions

With this process, a bleaching solution is applied to the teeth to remove stains. Products available over the counter at grocery, drug, and discount stores offer a lower concentrated strength of the bleaching solution than a dentist uses. These over the counter products usually contain between 10% and 22% of the bleaching agent carbamide peroxide. A 3% strength of hydrogen peroxide is equal to a 10% strength of carbamide peroxide. Dentists use a hydrogen peroxide strength of over 40%.

Fit Of The Tray

Dentists don’t typically use a tray during in-office teeth whitening procedures. They pull back your lips with a special device to expose the surface of your teeth before applying a resin to your gums to protect them from the bleaching solution. An in-home kit provided by your dentist will include a tray specially designed to custom fit your mouth that allows the bleaching solution to make full contact with your teeth without irritating your gums.

Over the counter teeth whitening kits don’t have a customized tray so they often don’t fit properly. This can lead to gum irritation and ineffective bleaching.

Fast Results

The fastest results come from in-office procedures because the bleaching solution has a higher peroxide concentration than over the counter or at-home kits. Dentist’s can also accelerate the bleaching process using ultraviolet light or heat.

In-office treatments are usually completed in a one hour visit, allowing patients to walk in with discolored teeth and walk out with a bright white smile. Over the counter kits require weeks of daily applications before seeing results.

Overall Cost

An in-office procedure will cost more than an at-home or over the counter kit. You can usually expect to pay between $500 and $1,000 for professional teeth whitening in a dentist’s office. At-home kits with customized trays usually average between $200 and $500 while over the counter kits range between $20 and $100.

Whether you’re in a small town or in a big city like Detroit, teeth whitening can give you a priceless bright and attractive smile that can enhance your self-esteem. As this procedure becomes more popular, in-office treatment prices will decline. Before choosing a teeth whitening option, speak with your dentist first as there are many considerations to factor in, including whether or not you have bonding, dental implants, veneers, or crowns. Often, these affected teeth can have a different bleaching outcome, so always check with your dentist first.