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Who likes pale or discolored teeth? No one.  But in reality, teeth do get discolored despite your best efforts. That is why the tooth whitening industry flourishes. Innumerable DIY products for teeth whitening are flooding the market, offering a very wide choice in cost and boasting a thousand advantages. At the same time, almost every dentist in every corner of the world is providing professional teeth whitening services, as is claiming to provide the best esthetic results. So which option is better, DIY at home, or professional teeth whitening at the dentist’s office?

The common person does not know all the facts and may take a simplistic route resulting in dissatisfaction and wastage of time and money. Obviously, you love your hard earned money. And of course, you love to have a lovely bright smile which attracts everybody to you.  So which way should you go where both ends are optimally served? The paragraphs below will disclose some facts while comparing the two options. We will take up the comparison parameters one by one and discuss them.

The chemical

Whether it is a DIY over the counter tooth whitening product to be used at home or the whitening materials used by the dentist, the active ingredient is always one which will release carbamide peroxide to bleach your teeth. This is the real truth. The strength of the chemical will vary from product to product, and from DIY to the dentist’s chemical, but it will always be a bleach inside.


If the active chemical leaks on to the gums it can damage or at least discolor them. Use of all these products involving carbamide peroxide demands strict safety measures to protect your gums and other oral surfaces.

Adoption of safety measures

DIY whitening chemicals are used either in trays which are worn over the teeth, or get applied in the form of whitening strips, pens, etc. That is to avoid contact of the chemical with the gums. However, readymade trays will not fit perfectly and there is always a chance of leakage on to gums. Similarly, the strips and pens are being applied by yourself with help of a mirror and that means you may not position the pen or strip very accurately. The dentist, on the other hand, takes prior means to protect your gums by applying a plastic sheet or a protective gel. Using both his hands and instruments, and looking directly at your teeth he can apply it very accurately, leaving little chance of error.

Number of visits

In case of professional whitening, at least one visit to the dentist will be necessary. You may not need to make any visits to the dentist’s office if you are using at home whitening products. But you do have to make one visit to the chemist to buy your home whitening stuff.

Time involved

For at home whitening, the trays filled with fresh chemical have to be worn for one to two hours each day for two to three weeks. That is quite cumbersome. On the other hand during whitening by a dentist, you don’t have to do anything. Just sit and smile, and may be watch TV. Most often, a single on hour visit is sufficient.

Quality of the result

In DIY whitening the extent and uniformity of whitening cannot be ensured. The professional dentist can ensure a uniform and quality result. A seven shade improvement can be expected in a professional whitening, sometimes in a single visit. This is because the bleaching agent used in professional teeth whitening is much more efficacious than that used in in-home whitening products.

Cost Effect

This is of course a very important parameter.  It is a fact that a professional whitening at the dentist’s office will cost more. DIY process will cost relatively less or much less depending on the quality of the product and the supplier.  However, DIYs have intangible costs if you consider the effort and time involved, the extent and quality of whitening, the risk of spill over to gums, etc. The end result may be that an in-office professional whitening may be a better buy.

The decision.

The decision will depend on you, your budget and your immediate priorities. If you are in a hurry, e.g., getting ready for a social appointment, and can afford the dentist’s fee, you go for the professional whitening procedure. At another time, when you are not in a hurry and you cannot afford the cost of professional teeth whitening and want to save some money, perhaps you could go for one of the home whitening products.  The choice is really yours to make!