Professional Teeth Whitening vs. At-Home Methods

White teeth are one of the most attractive characteristics of any smile, and the whiter and brighter your teeth seem to be, the healthier, happier, successful and attractive those people around you will think that you are. Unfortunately, a very white smile is not a common natural attribute. Most of us have teeth that are slightly darker, duller and have a yellowish tint thanks to the foods and drinks we consume and habits we have. Our teeth also naturally darken with age. 


Dental manufacturers, identifying the common desire for whiter teeth, have ensured that the last decade has seen a huge influx of different products that claim to be able to white teeth. They are available both online and in various supermarkets and drugstores around the world. In addition to this, an increasing number of dentists are now offering professional, in-office whitening services. 


How do you know whether at-home or in-office whitening is right for you? Here’s what you need to know to make that decision. 


Professional Teeth Whitening: What’s Involved?


Professional teeth whitening services are the most popular elective dental treatment both in the United States and around the world. What happens in the procedure isn’t too unlike the steps that you may make when choosing to whiten your teeth at home (depending on the type of at-home kit you use). Nevertheless, there are two very important differences that experts believe make professional whitening a faster, more effective and longer-lasting solution.  


Strength of bleaching agent used


The bleaching agent that is used in professional teeth whitening is far stronger than anything available over the counter and can only be obtained by professionals. The benefit of this is that patients can achieve a greater improvement in the color of their teeth in just one whitening session. This could mean fewer sessions are needed to reach the desired shade and the results are likely to last for longer. 


Professional application


Unsurprisingly, applying a bleaching agent to your own teeth can be awkward and difficult, and many patients end up getting bleach onto areas of their mouths not intended for bleaching, which can cause soreness and irritation. It is also difficult to get consistent coverage across all of your teeth. This can lead to patchy results. However, when you choose professional teeth whitening, not only will your dentist have a better view of your teeth to ensure complete and even coverage of the bleaching agent, but they also have specialist equipment which they can place into the mouth to protect other areas from coming into contact with the bleach. 


The teeth whitening procedure is very simple. Once the defensive equipment is in place, the bleaching agent is applied to your teeth and light focused onto them which triggers the chemical reaction needed to break up stains and discoloration and lighten the teeth. Each session usually takes less than an hour, and there is no downtime, enabling patients to go back to their usual day immediately after. Typically, fewer sessions are needed for patients to achieve their desired results. Professional whitening has also been shown to produce longer-lasting results than at-home treatments. 


At-Home Whitening: What You Need to Know


There are plenty of different options available when it comes to at-home teeth whitening. Many of the products that offer whitening capabilities, such as toothpaste, need to be used consistently for weeks or even months to produce any sort of result and failure to keep up with usage could see the improvement short-lived. However, there are at-home whitening kits that can easily be purchased online and in different stores across the country. The method behind these is very similar if not the same to professional teeth whitening and patients can usually either choose:

  • pre-filled trays of bleaching agent, which are placed over the teeth and left for a number of minutes for the chemical reaction to take place

  • to apply whitening agent directly onto their teeth and use a light to trigger the chemical reaction to lighten teeth


However, as we know, the application of whitening products at home can be tricky. Pre-filled trays can overflow and cause you to get bleaching agents onto your mouth and gums whereas pasting the bleach on yourself can also be difficult to do on your own teeth. Soreness, irritation, and sensitivity are very common, as are patchy and inconsistent results. 


Another thing to bear in mind is that the bleach is far lower in strength in at-home products. This means that it takes much longer to achieve the same level of the result if indeed it is possible to reach the same degree of whiteness at all. The results are also much harder to maintain. 




Professional teeth whitening is considered the most effective way to transform the color of your teeth and increase your confidence in your smile. For more information, or to schedule an appointment to discuss this service, please contact our dental office in Dublin, CA.