As the saying goes, “you’re never fully dressed without a smile!” However, it’s a lot easier to crack a glowing grin if you feel confident about your teeth. One of the biggest hindrances to this confidence (and one of the easiest things to fix) is tooth discoloration and staining. Years of drinking coffee and red wine, smoking, or just plain-old living can gradually leave teeth less than pearly-white.

With so many choices available to help whiten teeth, it can be tricky deciding the best way to go. On the one hand, there are do-it-yourself products like whitening toothpastes, whitening strips, or over-the-counter trays. On the other hand, you can opt to let the professionals handle it and get a whitening treatment from your dentist. Before deciding on the best option for you, you’ll need to consider a few factors: your teeth, your budget, and how effectiveness, cost, and safety vary from option to option.

When it comes to efficiency, professional whitening is the clear winner. Truthfully, whitening toothpaste is best for maintaining a mouth that has already been whitened and won’t do much more than a regular tube of toothpaste will. Over-the-counter trays and strips might be easier on your pocket book, but they have their own limitations. Strips can really only treat the front six to eight teeth on the top and bottom, and if your teeth aren’t perfectly straight, the results can be inconsistent. To top it all off, whitening agents in over-the-counter products are simply not as strong as those used in a dental office. If you want to make a dramatic difference in the appearance of your teeth, a professional treatment will deliver the most bang for your buck.

Now let’s break down the choices according to budget. Clearly, over-the-counter products will be less expensive that a professional treatment, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they deliver the best value. If you take into consideration the speed and efficacy of a professional treatment compared to that of an over-the-counter product, you will notice that your dollar goes a lot further with the pros. Most dentists will offer a couple of options for a professional treatment, so be sure to consult with them on the best plan for your budget. If you simply can’t afford a professional treatment at this time, it is wise to at least consult with your dentist on the over-the-counter product that they would recommend.

Finally, let’s talk safety. Professional whitening is widely considered to be the safer option because the products used are regulated for quality and safety and are applied under the supervision of a highly-trained professional. Over-the-counter products are generally considered safe when used exactly as they are meant to be. However, overuse and accidental ingestion can cause tooth sensitivity, enamel damage, or health complications. If you decide to go with the do-it-yourself route, be sure to choose a regulated product (Crest Whitestrips, for example) and follow the directions precisely.

Whichever method you decide to use, please remember that no amount of whitening can replace or mask proper dental care. Good oral hygiene habits and regular dental visits are the first and more important step in achieving a winning smile. To learn more about whitening and other aesthetic dentistry services, visit https://kyedentistry.com/.

Dr. Keith A. Kye is passionate about helping his patients in Huntersville, NC to achieve beautiful, glowing, and healthy smiles.