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A huge portion of the U.S. population is uncomfortable with the appearance of their smile. In fact, approximately 20% of U.S. adults said that the condition of their mouth and teeth caused them anxiety. For Americans, teeth are the second biggest insecurity after weight.

One common complaint about the appearance of teeth is their color; many people look in the mirror and find stained yellows or dull grays where pearly whites should be.

The desire for brilliantly white teeth leads many to seek remedies and methods that will clean and brighten the appearance of their smile. Some seek at-home treatments, while others opt for professional whitening procedures at the dentist’s office. But which is better?

According to, it all depends. Use this guide to determine whether at-home or professional whitening methods might be best for you.


DIY Whitening


There are many over-the-counter products that can be purchased in drugstores that are marketed as tooth-whitening products. Some common types include whitening toothpastes, tooth strips, trays with gels, and light kits bought online. A quick search online also yields many recipes for homemade pastes and remedies that claim to whiten teeth.


One of the major benefits of choosing at-home whitening methods is that they are significantly cheaper. Typically, at-home whitening kits purchased over the counter cost between $20 and $100. Another benefit is that you can control how often you use the treatment, and can pick a whitening time that works with your schedule.


Unfortunately, at-home products do not have the same whitening power as professional treatments. In order to be safe for consumer use, most bleaching chemicals have a much lower concentration when sold over the counter. It may take several attempts for at-home products to produce results. And, some DIY methods simply don’t work and actually harm the teeth. For example, trying to “whiten” teeth with lemon juice actually strips away tooth enamel, which leads to permanent damage.


Professional Whitening Treatments


A dentist can either perform treatments during appointments or send patients home with professional whitening products. Some common professional-grade treatments include vital whitening gels that contain hydrogen peroxide, or with whitening agents activated by laser lights.


When performed by a dentist, whitening procedures are generally more effective and last much longer. These procedures can whiten teeth by up to seven shades. Additionally, a dentist can make sure that the procedure doesn’t cause damage, since tooth whitening should not be performed on cavities or on receding gums.


Unfortunately, professional tooth whitening can be expensive, especially since many insurance companies do not cover cosmetic dental procedures. Professional whitening by a dentist can cost about $650 per visit, and kits sent home by dentists range between $100 and $400.


When it comes to tooth whitening, you get what you pay for. If you’d like high-quality, guaranteed results in a short period of time, then visiting a dentist is a good choice. For special occasions, like weddings, professional whitening might be worth the added expense. However, for day-to-day brighter teeth, there are many affordable over-the-counter products you can try. Double check products to make sure they are approved and safe for your teeth before use, and enjoy a brighter smile!

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2 Responses to Teeth Whitening Methods: The Good, The Bad, and the Pricey

  1. Nicole W says:

    Great blog post!

  2. Paula Pennachio says:

    This is great. I need to work on whitening mine

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