Many clients who come to us to discuss teeth whitening treatments are looking to enhance their confidence with a brighter, whiter smile. They recognise the aesthetic value of whiter teeth and want to find out the most affordable, effective, and long-lasting treatment plan that they can follow to boost their smile.
This conversation often inspires one of the most common questions we get asked – whether it is better to pay for a professional teeth whitening treatment or try some of the DIY and at-home solutions first. Of course, if you’re purely focussed on budget and cost, then there are definitive benefits of DIY treatments – but are they as effective, and do they even work?
Let’s take a closer look at the difference between professional and DIY teeth whitening, and how to determine which is the best option for you.
What’s the difference between professional and DIY teeth whitening?
When considering teeth whitening, it’s important to understand the different ways of approaching treatment. A professional treatment is performed by a trained dentist, and involves a whitening agent being applied to the teeth, before a laser is used to activate the ingredients. Professional teeth whitening benefits from the most potent and concentrated whitening solutions being used – all of which are only available in a professional setting and for use by trained dental specialists or practitioners.
DIY teeth whitening varies and covers both natural alternatives to whitening treatments, toothpastes which promise whiter teeth, and at-home whitening kits. The effectiveness of these different options varies according to the active ingredients and their concentration – though even the more expensive high-street whitening solutions will not contain the same degree of whitening agent when compared with a professional treatment.
Thus, the main difference between professional and DIY teeth whitening lies in the effectiveness and results – both immediate and with regard to longevity. Other differences include the amount of time it takes for the effect of the whitening treatment to be seen (the time span being much shorter following professional treatment), and the guarantee that the treatment protects rather than harms your teeth.
What are the benefits of a professional teeth whitening treatment?
We’ve already shared a little behind-the-scenes information about how professional teeth whitening treatments are conducted and what’s involved – but what are the benefits of this when compared with a DIY alternative?
The main benefits of professional teeth whitening lie in the convenience, the efficiency, and the effectiveness of the treatment and results. Using a combination of a potent and high-concentration whitening agent and laser technology, professional treatment lifts the colour of the dentin with ease and delivers visible results within a single treatment. These results are designed to last, and while you might need top-ups every so often, the impact is considered long lasting.
Another benefit is the professional manner of dentists who perform these treatments, ensuring that your teeth are fully protected and that the whitening process is comfortable. They will provide you with a comprehensive aftercare guide and information on how to keep your teeth white – as well as ensuring that your white teeth are not concealing underlying issues or signs of gum disease or decay.
DIY teeth whitening: does it ever work?
There are a couple of things to consider when it comes to DIY teeth whitening, not least the effectiveness of treatment, but also whether, in some instances, it can do more harm than good.
Using citrus fruits, like strawberries and lemons, as a natural whitening solution, for example, can actually cause tooth decay in the long run as a result of the high acidity of the fruits. Similarly, using baking soda can cause potential damage to the teeth because of its abrasive nature, with some clients taking their DIY approach to whitening too far and damaging their teeth’s natural enamel.
Then, we have the teeth whitening toothpastes and at-home whitening kits. Many of these do offer some degree of sheen after use, but the amount of time it takes to make a noticeable difference to the colour of your teeth, on top of the heightened sensitivity that many users report after use, implies that these perhaps are more trouble than they’re worth.
DIY treatments can be mildly effective when used safely and in line with an excellent approach to oral hygiene. However, the results take time and are nowhere near as potent nor as long lasting as professional whitening treatments conducted in a clinic or dental practice.
Patients should note that teeth whitening, regardless of how it is achieved, is never a guarantee of oral hygiene, and that white teeth can disguise or conceal a plethora of underlying issues relating to oral hygiene and the health of your teeth. Even if you opt for a DIY solution, make sure that you visit the dentist regularly to keep on top of your dental health.
With that said, how do you decide which approach is best for you?
Deciding which teeth whitening solution is better for you: points to consider
First and foremost, you need to consider how important teeth whitening really is to you; whether it will have a genuine and lasting impact on your confidence and quality of life, and how your teeth look now in comparison with your ideal end result. If you follow a regular and effective oral hygiene routine and simply want to elevate your teeth to a slightly brighter shade of white, then DIY and at-home remedies can prove beneficial as a first step. However, they are not all safe, so be sure to check with a dentist before using anything containing ingredients you don’t recognise.
If, however, you want to whiten teeth that have suffered from years of discolouration, you have sensitive teeth, or you want to reach a certain result or shade of white efficiently, then you will likely need to explore and look into a professional service.
Either way, teeth whitening can be a great way to enhance your natural smile and give you a boost of self-confidence, which can transform your attitude and look. For more information on professional teeth whitening and to discuss the service, get in touch with your dentist today.