Whether you’re wanting to look your best for an upcoming event or job interview or you’re just tired of your yellowed, worn smile, you may have thought about teeth whitening. These whitening products have improved in their effectiveness, ease of use and affordability.

There are two main types of teeth whitening: do-it-yourself kits you can buy at a store such as a grocery store and those done by a dentist in a dental office. Both types have their pros and cons to consider. There are some factors one must take into account in determining which one is best for you.

At Home DIY Teeth Whitening

When people think about teeth whitening they will likely think of these at-home do-it-yourself whitening kits. These kits commonly come in the form of clear, whitening gel covered strips that adhere to the front surface the teeth. Other whitening kits come in the form of clear plastic trays in which whitening gel is inserted into. These trays are then placed over the teeth. The whitening trays can be purchased at the store or prescribed by the dentist. The ones prescribed by the dentist will be custom-fitted to each patient’s teeth. The gel will also have more potent, dentist formulated teeth bleaching material. Both whitening systems require the user to spend time “soaking” the teeth in the whitening gel. Here are the pros and cons of these teeth whitening methods:


  • Inexpensive
  • Easily accessible
  • Can be done in the privacy of one’s home


  • Can be messy and hard to apply properly
  • Doesn’t immediately whiten teeth
  • Whitening doesn’t last long
  • Can cause gum irritation

In-Office Teeth Whitening

Getting a professional teeth cleaning at the dentist office by a dental professional has become more popular in recent years due to the immediate, noticeable results it yields. For the in-office teeth bleaching, dentist use a more potent hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening material as well as a specific type of UV light that better activates the applied whitening gel. The in-office cosmetic whitening procedure has been improving with some dental offices offering a completed bleaching treatment in as little as 30 minutes. Below are just some of the pros and cons of this type of cosmetic dental procedure:


  • Whitens teeth multiple shades often within a single, hour-long appointment
  • Lasts longer than at-home whitening kits
  • Involves less discomfort due to better fitting strips and trays


  • Is more expensive
  • Requires time at the dentist office

Both at-home and in-office teeth whitening methods do have the risk of gum irritation and tooth sensitivity. The gum irritation is caused from the minor burning of the gums from the bleaching gel. This discomfort is more common with the at-home techniques as the strips and trays don’t provide the best fit. Tooth sensitivity can happen when the whitening agent is applied to the surface of the teeth. For the gel to work and turn teeth white, it must penetrate the tooth enamel, which is the hard, translucent layer of the tooth in order to get to the softer, white-colored dentin layer underneath. The dentin layer also contains nerves and blood vessels. When the tooth enamel is compromised by the tooth bleaching agent, it becomes porous, exposing the nerves underneath. The tooth discomfort is more likely to occur in patients who already have sensitive teeth. The discomfort is temporary and only persist as long as the teeth are exposed to the bleaching agent.

If your teeth are sensitive, it is highly recommended that you schedule an appointment with your dentist to diagnose the source of the sensitivity and to treat it before getting one’s teeth whitened.