The Real Difference Between Store-Bought And Professional Teeth Whitening Treatments

Have you noticed some discoloration on your teeth that you want to treat? You may be tempted to turn to whitening toothpaste. Many brands claim that their toothpaste products will gradually lighten your teeth over time with minimal risk of sensitivity. Unfortunately, while a whitening toothpaste might slightly lessen the stains on the surface of your enamel, it won't do much to raise the overall color of your teeth. That's because the active ingredients in a toothpaste are not strong enough to change the natural color of your teeth, or penetrate stains that go below the surface, via Mayo Clinic.

In reality, you have two options if you want to effectively whiten your teeth: A store-bought, at-home whitening treatment, or a professional treatment in a dentist's office. Both are viable options, though dentists argue that professional teeth whitening services are more effective, long-lasting, and safe, per Everyday Health. Certain at-home treatments may also worsen stains depending on their origins. However, the cost of professional whitening is often prohibitive.

Professional teeth whitening treatments contain high concentrations of a bleaching agent

According to WebMD, professional whitening treatments contain high concentrations of either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, from 15 to 43%. In contrast, DIY systems typically contain 3 to 20% peroxide. A higher concentration in gel form allows dentists to complete the teeth whitening process more quickly. As another bonus, dentists have the tools to help them control where they place the whitening solution, so they can easily prevent it from landing on the gums and causing irritation, per Everyday Health.

However, no dentist can guarantee that you will not experience tooth and gum sensitivity after treatment. All bleaching agents can cause sensitivity by weakening the teeth, because they may slightly demineralize the enamel and make the teeth more porous, via Harrisburg Smiles. Plus, the cost of professional whitening is daunting, as it ranges between $150 to $600.

If you want a professional treatment in order to avoid the risks of a DIY kit, but don't want to pay a huge sum of money, talk to your dentist about alternative options. They may be able to suggest a trusted brand of whitening strips, or create a custom whitening tray for your teeth that you can use at home for a lower price, per Everyday Health.