Teeth Whitening: A Home or Away Game?

It’s no secret that the latest beauty trend is bright white teeth that can light up an entire room when you smile.

The industry that has sprung up around this new desire for ultra-white teeth is as divers as the people looking for a brighter smile. At-home whitening kits which take several days to be fully effective are now competing with professional whitening services offered by most dentists. So, which service is the best and most effective?

At-Home Whitening Kits

Each style of teeth whitening has its own select set of benefits, and you’ll need to make your own decision about which option sounds right for you. At-home whitening kits are great for people who don’t have the most expensive dental insurance plans, and might be on a tighter budget.

Because teeth whitening is generally not considered an “essential” service, most dental plans will do little to offset the cost, and most won’t cover it at all. That’s where the home whitening kit comes in. These kits contain a peroxide mixture that either gets applied to a tray or a thin plastic strip. That strip or tray then sits on your teeth for a pre-determined amount of time as the whitening solution does its job and lifts stains from the surface of your teeth.

Home whitening kits are extremely affordable and, over the course of their one- or two-week usage cycles, they can eliminate a great deal of surface strains from your teeth and reduce the yellow or ivory appearance caused by a daily coffee habit or something similar. For most people, these whitening kits are just the right mix of effectiveness and affordability.

But, because they don’t eliminate all stains, and may not be powerful enough to fully whiten all teeth, they do have a distinct disadvantage in comparison to professional whitening services.

Professional Whitening

Services provided by your dentist might include a bleaching process similar to the hydrogen peroxide mix found in most consumer whitening products. But your dentist has other options available, as well, which may help treat teeth with deeper stains or more noticeable yellowing. For older individuals, these professional whitening services will be more effective in treating long-term stains and discoloration.

Your dentist can actually use lasers for a “deep” whitening effect that will remove the appearance of all surface stains and make your smile the same brilliant white color that you see on most celebrities. As an added benefit, the treatments offered by a dentist are far more protective of the enamel that keeps your teeth free of cavities. For people with weak enamel, professional whitening is a safe option that won’t wear down the protective coating that preserves your teeth.

And, of course, there is the added benefit of dental insurance covering a portion of the cost that can be incurred when selecting professional whitening services. Because laser whitening isn’t cheap, your insurance company may help you afford the service by way of a copay or a monthly installment system. It’s best to check with your dental insurance company before selecting your treatment, as you’ll want to get a good idea of the burden it may place on your budget in the short-term.


Each form of teeth whitening has its benefits, with home kits being extremely affordable and very effective for most users; professional services are a solid option for people with premium dental insurance plans, larger budgets, or deeper stains that over-the-counter options simply won’t treat effectively.

Ty Cobb is an avid traveler and blogger. He loves music, art, people and how the three intermingle. He can be found on Twitter @bloggingcobb.

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