Teeth Whitening Procedures Compared: Dentist Procedures vs DIY Procedures

by Regina

teeth, z1

laser-tooth-whitening-by-gruntzooki.jpg It seems as time goes on there are more and more teeth whitening products on the market. Trays, strips, toothpaste, you name it. Just about every time you turn around, there’s a new teeth whitening product you haven’t seen before.

The reason for this is simple: most people want whiter teeth. They look nicer.  Plus, white teeth give the appearance a healthy mouth.

Unfortunately, there is no 100% tried and true permanent method for getting your teeth whiter.

Let’s compare teeth whitening procedures done in a dentist’s office (like teeth bleaching & laser tooth whitening) with teeth whitening procedures you can do yourself using over-the-counter products (like teeth bleaching kits & strips)…


Reasons To Try Teeth Whitening

While teeth whitening toothpaste and regular dental cleanings can help to lighten some of the stains found on the surface of your teeth, they cannot help with the staining that is beneath the surface.

That’s where more aggressive teeth whitening procedures come in.

There are several ways that you can bleach or whiten your teeth — both at the dentist and with over-the-counter products.

As you’ve probably guessed, the teeth whitening products that you can get at a local store aren’t going to be as powerful as the teeth whitening procedures that a dentist uses. Since no method of teeth whitening is permanent and a dentist’s procedures are more expensive, it all comes down to what you’re willing to pay for.


Dentist Teeth Whitening Procedures

When teeth bleaching is done at a dentist’s office, they make a tray that will fit perfectly around your teeth. A whitening gel will be put in that tray, which you then put in your mouth. The whitening gel usually contains carbamide peroxide, which breaks down over time while you have the tray in your mouth — resulting in oxygen. The oxygen enters the enamel of your teeth, causing them to become lighter in color. How well the tray fits ultimately determines how successful the teeth bleaching procedure will be.

Another option, if you decide to go the dentist route, is laser tooth whitening. In this case, the dentist will put a solution of hydrogen peroxide on your teeth. Then the dentist will put a light up close to your teeth to make the breakdown of stains happen faster and whiten your teeth more quickly. Laser teeth whitening can cost $500 or more and only lasts for about a year before you would need to have the procedure repeated.

Since there is no clinical evidence showing that laser whitening is better than tray whitening, to me, it seems like an awful big expense to do every year. On the other hand, if you have the custom tray made for teeth bleaching, then you can just use it again when you start noticing your teeth need to be whitened.

DIY Teeth Whitening Procedures

Over-the-counter teeth whitening products are easily found in stores. They include: teeth bleaching trays with whitening gel, teeth whitening strips, and laser tooth whitening kits. These are all teeth whitening procedures you can do at home yourself.

As previously mentioned, in order for teeth bleaching trays to work effectively, they have to fit just right. Since the trays that you find in teeth bleaching kits in the stores were not made specifically for your teeth, they probably won’t fit as perfectly as a tray that is custom-made for you by a dentist would. Therefore, your results will not be as dramatic as a dentist’s results would be. Most store-bought teeth bleaching kits are also less effective than professional teeth bleaching done in a dentist’s office, due to the fact that the ingredients in the teeth whitening gels simply aren’t as strong as the ones that dentists use.

teeth-whitening-strips-by-glindsay65.jpg If you decide to try teeth whitening strips, you need to place them on both your top and bottom teeth in the front. When used as directed, any molars that show when you’re smiling are going to still look discolored.

TIP: The best way to use teeth whitening strips is to use 2 strips on the top and 2 on the bottom — with each strip starting between your front 2 teeth and going back. That way, you can get some of those teeth farther back bleached as well. (Most people just put one strip across the center of their front teeth on top and bottom.)

The laser tooth whitening kits you use at home can be costly. Like the teeth whitening strips, they may not whiten all of your teeth, even if used properly. It depends on how far back the tray that it comes with fits in your mouth. That means it’s still possible to smile and have a discolored tooth or two. While there’s a remedy for this when using the teeth whitening strips (mentioned above), there isn’t a way to rectify this issue with DIY laser tooth whitening kits.


Personally, I’m quite happy with the results from my at-home teeth whitening kit. I’ve used teeth whitening trays ever since they came out on the market several years ago.

Since no teeth whitening procedures produce permanent results, it seems to me to be a waste of money to shell out $500 or more a year to have the laser tooth whitening procedure done. But that’s just me.

Another teeth whitening method that you can try at home (and that is the cheapest) is brushing your teeth with baking soda. Back when I was really strapped for cash as a college student, the way I whitened my teeth was just to dip my toothbrush into a baking soda box, then brush. While it didn’t taste great, it worked!

Here are some other home remedies for teeth whitening.



A bleachorexic is someone who’s obsessed with getting her pearly whites even whiter … The American Dental Association recently asked the Food and Drug Administration to consider regulating the [teeth whitening] kits because the chemicals in some might pose risks — such as damage to teeth and gums, and because their ingredients and strength vary — which means their long-term safety is unknown … Save the strips for special occasions and use them no more than twice a year.  — ShopSmart Magazine