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Should I see my dentist for teeth whitening or go with a drugstore product?

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The question

I'd like to whiten my teeth, but I'm confused by the options. Should I schedule a treatment with my dentist or go the DIY route with a drugstore product?

The answer

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In-office teeth-whitening treatments deliver instant results after a single session; having a professional in charge also diminishes the risk of tooth sensitivity and burned gums.

That said, visiting a dental office means a bigger hit to your wallet: The price of one visit starts at roughly $150 compared to at-home treatments using drugstore products, which can cost as little as $20. If you use a weekly at-home treatment, the product will whiten teeth gradually with continued use and you can stop when you've reached the shading you desire.

This can stave off tooth sensitivity, but it can take up to three weeks to see results. Plus, there are safety precautions to consider. Leaving the whitening gel on your teeth for too long and letting it come in contact with your gums may result in less than desirable results.

Bahar Niramwalla is a celebrity makeup artist and beauty expert who has appeared on The Marilyn Denis Show on CTV. Have a beauty question? E-mail style@globeandmail.com.

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