Teeth Whitening Strips OR Professional Whitening?

Dental Health
By: Spirit Dental
October 11, 2017

A dentist working on whitening a patients teeth

Everyone loves a big, bright, white smile. And everyone can have a brilliant smile, thanks to the many whitening products and treatments that are on the market today. But what’s better: your typical over-the-counter whitening strips, or the professional whitening treatment that your dentist offers? We break down the pros and cons of each of these popular options below so that you can make the right choice for your teeth.

Whitening at Home with Strips

Whitening strips give you the ability to brighten your teeth in the comfort of home, and they’re also much more affordable than professional whitening treatments. Here are a few things to consider if you’re thinking about taking this route towards a brighter smile:

  • Whitening strips typically use carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide to whiten your chompers. Once the strips are applied, the whitening gel will press against your teeth so that the peroxide can effectively penetrate and remove stains.
  • It will take, on average, about a week before you start to see the results of whitening strips, although advanced products claim that you might notice a difference after just one use. How long you need to use the strips will depend upon the product that you’re using and the results that you’re hoping to attain. And, of course, your results will also depend upon just how badly stained your teeth are, to begin with.
  • Whitening strips might not be able to give you even results. This is because the strips may not be placed exactly the same way each time you use them, and they may not cover every spot on every tooth perfectly.
  • How long will the results last? Well, if you take care of your teeth and use a whitening toothpaste daily while also limiting the foods and drinks that can cause stains, your results might last anywhere from six months to a full year. Not bad. Not bad at all.
  • Another great thing about whitening strips is the fact that they’re easy to use. They’re pretty much foolproof because all you have to do is use one strip on your top teeth and another on your bottom teeth. When it’s time to take them off, they come off easily, and you’re done! Really simple overall.
  • When it comes to side effects, you might use whitening strips without any consequences. However, some people find that, after prolonged use, the teeth start to become increasingly sensitive. This side effect could be worse if you already have sensitive teeth before you even start whitening. If this occurs, though, stopping the use of the strips for a few days should make the discomfort go away. However, in addition to tooth sensitivity, the ingredients in whitening strips might irritate the gums. Experts recommend avoiding contact between the strip and your gums, but this is really hard to do. Plus, excessive use of whitening strips could even cause your tooth enamel to erode, and you may become more prone to tooth decay. Yikes! This is why it’s important to use these products as directed.

Leaving It Up to Your Dentist with Professional Treatments

If you’re hoping for dramatic results, whitening strips may not give you what you’re looking for. Instead, you might need to go to your dentist to have your teeth whitened professionally. But there are still a few things to consider before opting for a professional whitening service:

  • First, you may want to consider the cost. Compared to whitening strips that you can buy in-store and online, a professional procedure will be much more expensive. We’re talking hundreds of dollars for a professional treatment versus just a few dollars for at-home strips.
  • If you’re aiming to make your teeth several shades whiter after just one treatment, this is the way to go. Your dentist will have access to a more powerful bleaching gel that works faster than the low-dose bleaching agents that are found in whitening strips that you use at home.
  • As you probably already guessed, a professional whitening treatment could also cause irritation of the gums, as well as tooth sensitivity. After all, if at-home products could do it, then more powerful treatments could do it too. So if you already have sensitive teeth, your dentist may not recommend professional treatment.
  • During what’s referred to as chairside bleaching, your dentist will use a rubber shield or a special gel in order to protect your gums as best as possible. Then he or she will apply the whitening solution to your teeth. You’ll wait a few minutes, and you might get the results that you want after a single session.
  • In addition to applying the whitening solution to your teeth, your dentist may also use a special light or laser in order to brighten your smile even more quickly. A typical treatment will take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. Quick and painless!
  • Although you could get awesome results after one professional whitening treatment, depending upon your expectations, you might need to receive the treatment more than once after all. And results aren’t permanent either. After a year, it’s likely that you’ll start to notice staining again. Bummer.

Before You Whiten…

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that you have your teeth and gums examined prior to having your teeth whitened, whether you’re thinking about whitening at home or in the dentist’s chair. Your dentist can make sure that your chompers are healthy enough for a bleaching treatment, and he or she will also be able to determine which options would reduce or remove the staining best.

Just remember: although an occasional whitening treatment is a great way to boost the brilliance of your smile, brushing with whitening toothpaste, flossing, and going for dental cleanings regularly will help you maintain beautiful, healthy teeth for the long run. After all, a healthy smile is just as important as a white smile!


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