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Teeth Whitening 101: Is It Better to DIY or Let the Experts Handle It?

dentist websiteYou might not know this, but tooth enamel is the hardest surface of all in the human body. Despite its toughness and durability, enamel can be stained and negatively affected by a number of different foods and drinks — especially things that are acidic or contain tannins (like coffee and tea). When your teeth are exposed to these harmful agents, your smile begins to lose its luster, slowly starting to take on a more yellow appearance.

That’s when you know you might be in need of some professional teeth whitening.

But should you make an appointment at your dentist’s office or simply try to take care of it at home? Both options have their merits, and some dentist websites even have free tips for teeth whitening available right on their blogs. Let’s look at both processes in depth to see which would provide better results:

The DIY Approach

Whitening toothpastes. A little baking soda-and-water mixture. Strips you can pick up at your local drugstore. All these methods of at-home teeth whitening have shown to be at least moderately effective toward getting a better smile. Plus, you’re bound to save plenty of cash by doing it yourself, as undergoing cosmetic dental work tends to be on the pricier side.

But then again, think about the services you’re paying for. Even the best toothpastes with whitening agents in them only do so much, and they tend to take a little time to show results at all. The same thing goes for whitening strips. And the baking soda solution is really only recommended for once-a-week use, because it can cause lasting damage to your enamel. Still, there’s no question that your smile can improve through these DIY whitening techniques.

OK, but plenty of dentist websites say whitening can be done better through expert treatment. How do you know if that’s true?

Contacting a Dental Professional

When you want to get serious about a whiter smile, it’s best to ask a dentist in your area what he or she can do to help. The cosmetic dentistry procedures most often used for whitening tend to be the standard peroxide-based process and the at-home whitening trays — both great options that tend to yield better results than you could get by simply doing it yourself.

A typical whitening process requires about an hour’s worth of time at the dentist’s office, though the actual application is broken up into smaller, 20-minute segments. For at-home whitening, you’re be expected to stop into the office for a fitting, but the actual whitening takes place at home (while you wear a whitener-filled custom-sized tray inside your mouth). You can find out more about these whitening processes on any cosmetic dentist website.

Of course, the issue with pro dental care tends to be the cost. Extensive in-office procedures can range up to $800 and sometimes even $1,000 — but it always depends upon the situation. After all, every patient is different, so for the most accurate estimate of what you’re likely to pay, ask a dentist for a quote.

Then ask yourself: What’s a whiter smile worth to you?