Professional vs. DIY Teeth Whitening: Which is Right For You?

Based on information from the U.S. Census and Simmons National Consumer Survey (NHCS), it’s estimated that 37 million Americans used tooth-whitening products in 2020. And, that figure is expected to decrease to 35.22 million in 2024. This indicates a decline in demand for DIY tooth whitening products, which could be due to various reasons, such as increased awareness about the potential side effects of these products, a shift towards natural and holistic dental care, or a lack of disposable income due to economic conditions.

Yet, while the demand for over-the-counter (OTC) tooth whitening products is down, the interest in professional tooth whitening continues to grow. And this begs the question, professional vs. DIY teeth whitening; what’s right for you?

Tooth Whitening Options

DIY tooth-whitening products have been on the market for several decades, with the earliest products dating back to the 1980s. However, these early products were often ineffective and potentially harmful, as they contained high levels of hydrogen peroxide or other harsh chemicals. It wasn’t until the late 1990s and early 2000s that safer and more effective OTC tooth-whitening products became widely available. 

Today, many different types of DIY tooth-whitening products are on the market, including whitening toothpaste, whitening strips, and whitening trays, among others. But what are the advantages and disadvantages of each? We’ve broken it down for you here.

1. Whitening Toothpastes

Whitening toothpaste is popular for those who want to brighten their smile without breaking the bank. These kinds of toothpaste contain mild abrasives that can help remove surface stains and make teeth appear whiter. They are also convenient to use, as they can be incorporated into an individual’s daily oral hygiene routine.

However, the results of whitening toothpastes are generally modest, and may take several weeks, or months of regular use to achieve any noticeable whitening effect. Additionally, the abrasive nature of these kinds of toothpaste can damage tooth enamel if used excessively or with excessive pressure during brushing. The whitening effect of whitening toothpaste may last several months but is generally not as long-lasting as other tooth whitening approaches.


  • Affordable
  • Convenient to use
  • Achieve a modest amount of brightness 
  • Effects can last for several months


  • Modest results that may take several weeks or months to achieve
  • Abrasive nature can potentially damage tooth enamel 

2. DIY Whitening Trays 

DIY whitening trays are another popular option for at-home tooth whitening. However, it’s important to note that there are two kinds of DIY whitening trays:

  • Dentist-prescribed take-home kits
  • Over-the-counter kits 

Here, we’re talking about dentist-prescribed take-home kits such as the Zoom take-home whitening system, a popular cosmetic dentistry solution My Chico Dentist offers. This system has a patent-pending gel that can whiten your teeth up to six shades over three nights of treatment. These trays are custom-fitted to an individual’s teeth and are filled with a whitening gel containing hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. The trays are typically worn for over three nights or several hours a day over a period of one to two weeks. When you wear the trays will depend on whether you have a day or night kit.

One of the advantages of DIY whitening trays is they can achieve significant whitening results, and the custom-fit trays ensure that the gel is evenly distributed over the teeth. However, the effectiveness of DIY whitening trays can be limited by the concentration of bleaching agents used in the gel, which is typically lower than those used in professional in-office treatments. Additionally, some individuals may experience sensitivity or discomfort during the treatment.



  • Effectiveness is not as good as what can be achieved in the office
  • May cause sensitivity of discomfort
  • While the effects can last for several months, touch-ups are required

3. DIY Whitening Strips 

DIY whitening strips are a convenient and affordable option that can be purchased at your local drug or convenience store. These strips are coated with a bleaching gel containing hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide and are applied to the teeth for 30 minutes to an hour per day over a period of one to two weeks.

One of the main advantages of DIY whitening strips is their convenience and affordability, as they can be purchased at most drugstores and used at home. However, the effectiveness of these strips can be limited by the concentration of bleaching agents used in the gel, which is typically lower than those used in professional in-office treatments or DIY whitening trays. Additionally, the strips may not be as effective in reaching all areas.


  • Convenient and affordable
  • Can achieve modest brightness


  • Effectiveness is limited due to the lower concentration of bleaching agents
  • May not reach all areas of the teeth 
  • While the effects can last for several months, touch-ups are required

4. Professional In-office Treatments

Professional in-office treatments are the most effective way to whiten teeth, as they typically use high-concentration hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide gels applied to the teeth under the supervision of a dentist such as Dr. Robles or Dr. Yazdianpour at My Chico Dentist. One of the main advantages of professional in-office treatments is they can achieve significant whitening results in a single session, with some treatments capable of whitening teeth by up to eight shades. Another advantage is that the treatment is usually complete within an hour, making it a convenient option for busy individuals.

However, professional in-office treatments are also the most expensive option for tooth whitening and may not be accessible to everyone. Additionally, the high concentration of bleaching agents used in these treatments can cause temporary sensitivity and discomfort in some patients, although this should only last a day or two. The results from professional in-office treatments can last up to a year but may require occasional touch-ups to maintain their brightness.



  • Higher cost than other whitening options
  • High concentration of bleaching agents may cause temporary sensitivity

Are you ready to decide between professional vs. DIY teeth whitening?

Teeth whitening is a great approach to a smile makeover in Chico. So if you want to whiten teeth due to staining or yellowing that has occurred over the years, we can help. Request an appointment today with My Chico Dentist to discuss your options and see how much brighter and whiter your smile can be.

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Call 530-893-8913 or request an appointment online to set up your first visit. We’ll be in touch soon.