​Should you get your teeth whitened professionally or just do it yourself?

Having gleaming white teeth is no longer out of reach with so many do-it-yourself (DIY) teeth whitening products readily available online or in pharmacies.

The price of an at-home teeth whitening procedure? No more than $10 to $50.

Products range from whitening toothpastes (under $10) to DIY teeth whitening products in the form of gels, pens, strips or mouthpiece trays, costing between $20 and $50. With so many options, do you still need professional teeth whitening?

"DIY teeth whitening products can help to whiten your teeth, but be prepared for uneven whitening results and possible side effects of over-bleaching," says Dr Christina Sim, Senior Consultant at the Prosthodontic Unit, National Dental Centre Singapore (NDCS), a member of the SingHealth group.

"Over-the-counter tooth whiteners come with fixed amounts of bleaching gel, either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. In some products, the concentration of these bleaching ingredients may not be strong enough to sufficiently lighten discoloured teeth. The results may be insignificant. Others may contain chemicals that cause erosion of teeth or gum sensitivity," adds Dr Sim.

What are the benefits of professional teeth whitening?

The most common teeth whitening procedures performed by dentists are professional in-office bleaching and dentist-supervised home bleaching.

Professional in-office bleaching involves a visit to the dentist where teeth are whitened within one to two hours using a laser procedure. The dentist calibrates the amount of bleaching gel suitable for your teeth.

Dentist-supervised home bleaching is slightly more complicated. The dentist makes a precise mould of your teeth and custom-designs a bleaching tray which you wear for a couple of hours every day. The custom-fit tray holds just the right amount of bleaching gel and ensures bleaching is evenly distributed on all tooth surfaces. The dentist will monitor the results and your reaction to the bleaching gel over a few weeks.

Find out more facts on teeth whitening in the next page.

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