« Back to La Jolla Dentists

Differences Between Teeth Whitening Home Kits and Dentist Office Whitening with Insights by Top La Jolla Dentist

At pharmacies and grocery stores nationwide, you'll find a wide selection of teeth-whitening kits that promise fast, natural-looking results at low-end prices. Weighed up against the cost of going to an orthodontist for a professional whitening treatment, the do-it-yourself option seems quicker and cheaper,at least that's what advertisements would have you believe. But what are the pros and cons of using home-kits versus going to the orthodontist? To get some realistic answers, we spoke with La Jolla based dentist, Dr. Nick Marongiu, from the Scripps Center For Dental Care and asked him to weigh up the pros and cons for us.


Teeth-whitening kits are safe and relatively effective, but they're not a miracle cure. If used correctly, as per the directions printed on the box, you should see decent results, but they won't be instant and they won't be permanent. That's something everybody needs to understand, there is no product available in any store around the world that will give you perfectly white teeth. If there was, it certainly wouldn't be cheap. This tango with reality is where accidents happen. Doctor Marongiu offers some insight here. "Whitening your teeth is definitely an effective, safe, and worthwhile option for people wanting to improve the appearance of their smile with little expense and little time commitment. Not all whitening systems produce profound results though. Whitening systems, whether purchased over the counter or from your dentist, all rely on peroxide. The concentration of the peroxide and the length of time the peroxide is left on the teeth determine the degree of effectiveness. Peroxides however are damaging to soft tissue, like the gums around the teeth. For this reason, the whitening systems available over the counter contain a very low concentration of peroxide and are thus much less effective at producing predictable results." People who get frustrated by the lack of instantaneous results end up using the bleach excessively, which can lead to infected gums, warped teeth (if you think whitening treatments are expensive, get a few quotes for crowns and bridges) and dark splotches.

Pay More, Get More

In-office orthodontic treatments also use peroxide, but in a much stronger dose. This naturally speeds up the whitening process, especially when combined with other stimuli. heat and light. When under the care of a top La Jolla dentist, you'll have the safety of a trained professional in charge of the process. "With in-office whitening, the dentist is able to control the application of the peroxide and contain the exposure to only the teeth and protect the gums. This allows a higher concentration of peroxide to be used which produces much more profound whitening. Some dentists also use light activated whitening systems, like Zoom, to get the most out of tooth whitening. With regard to cost, the over the counter teeth whitening systems have less upfront cost but will wind up costing more long term. What can be achieved with one in office treatment will take several weeks of repeated at home treatments. The in-office treatment additionally tends to have longer lasting results," says Dr. Marongiu.

While having perfectly white teeth is the ultimate goal, the health and strength of your teeth should also be a primary concern, after all, those perfect teeth won't be any good if they fall out. People who misuse home-kits end up damaging their teeth. Across the board, there will be sensitivity after whitening. "The transient sensitivity associated with whitening teeth is a result of the teeth becoming dehydrated. As the teeth rehydrate, the sensitivity should subside. This normally takes 24-48 hours and can be alleviated with ibuprofen or a desensitizing gel to be placed on the teeth directly. If sensitivity persists beyond this time period, you should seek follow up care from your dentist," says Dr. Marongiu.

« Back to La Jolla Dentists
Things To Do
This Week
Hang Gliding Many of us would love to fly and have dreams we are flying, soaring like...
Fishing Your mother was right when she said there are a lot of other fish in the...
Biking What was once child's play, bicycling is now a serious sport, as well a...
Windsurfing Windsurfing, also known as sailboarding, is the ultimate combination of ...
Kayaking Kayaking is a popular activity in San Diego, and it's no wonder, with so...
» More Activities