Every year, people in this country spend over a billion dollars on over-the-counter, nonprescription teeth whitening products. Why? Because a lot of the things we love to consume can have a very detrimental effect on our pearly whites.

But even if we don’t smoke cigarettes or drink beverages that have a tendency to stain enamel, time itself is against us. Teeth simply don’t stay white forever, and eventually they begin to turn brownish yellow or some other shade of gray.

The varying shades of tooth color.

So is it worth spending that kind of money on over-the-counter teeth whiteners? What are the differences and benefits to going into the office versus doing it at home?

In-Office Whitening Treatments

The most important difference between at-home and in-office whitening is the strength of the solution we can use. You can’t buy these professional supplies at the store because if they’re applied incorrectly, it could cause a lot of problems.

So let’s take a look at some of the benefits of in-office treatments first:

  • Stronger agents – We’ll restate it here because it’s definitely a defining characteristic. The whitening agents we use must be applied properly to protect the gums and the rest of the mouth.
  • Safe application – We’ll make sure that your enamel is protected from damage.
  • Immediate difference – You can see a huge difference after a single visit. You could see results that are up to 10 shades brighter.
  • Long lasting – After your treatment, the whitening can last for a year or more, depending on how you treat your teeth.

The most common way for a professional teeth cleaning is to use custom-made trays filled with the whitening solution. You may even be given some of these custom trays to take home to make your teeth even brighter.

Over-the-Counter Options

There is a lot of information out there about the potential results that can be achieved through products that you can buy at your local store. This could include everything from mouthwash and toothpaste to whitening trays and gel strips.

There are several things that make these treatments appealing:

  • These are usually affordable options
  • They are easy to use at home
  • They are generally safe to use

Some of these products may whiten the teeth gradually, others might work more quickly, depending on the strength of the agents they use. They are usually pretty safe and gentle on the mouth and teeth, but if you have oral issues, you may need to check with us before you start using them.

There are a few more concerns that might need to be addressed for home options. For example, if you use mouth trays that don’t fit properly, it could allow the gel to leak and start irritating the gums. Also, if you have sensitive teeth, that could limit the type of products you should use.

In general, though, over-the-counter products can work, but there are a lot of variables involved, and they usually work the best with people who already have healthy teeth and gums.

What’s the Conclusion?

So how do at-home treatments really compare to professional solutions? They can work, but it all depends on the starting conditions and the potency of the product.

However, the products you can buy in a store will simply never be as potent as the stuff we use in the office. It has to be that way because at home you won’t have anyone standing over you to ensure that everything goes smoothly. These are some powerful products, and we’ll make sure they’re used right so you’ll get the bright smile you’re looking for.