Teeth Whitening Guide: Professional vs At-home Techniques

Teeth Whitening

This author doctor has chosen to stay anonymous.

Under the Private Hospitals and Medical Clinics Act, doctors can be warned, fined or suspended if they position themselves as an expert above their peers. Doctors also cannot use before/after photos in the article or state their preferences towards specific methods or techniques. The strict laws help uphold the repute of Singapore’s private healthcare scene and we strongly support it. Due to this, some doctors choose to stay anonymous so they can write more informative pieces.

Click To Check Price of Teeth Whitening in Singapore

The cost of teeth whitening in Singapore ranges between $800 to $1,300. Teeth whitening treatments in clinics generally are much more expensive than salon and take-home kits. In a salon, teeth whitening procedures generally cost around $180 to $500. Take-home kits for teeth whitening in Singapore are much cheaper and cost between $18 to $60.  

Teeth whitening has come a long way since its inception. At first, it was carried out with stuff that sits around in the house like baking soda. And now it’s gotten to a point where you can pay a teeth whitening specialist in Singapore to do it professionally with the help of expensive high-grade equipment. There is a lot of controversy around these options - which one is better, are they safe? - and we are here to shed more light on both. Stick around to find out more about home-based and in-office teeth whitening methods.

Why Do Teeth Discolour Over Time?

To explain this, let’s start with some basic facts about the tooth structure. Nerves and blood vessels are wrapped up in something like a shell that keeps them from damage. To begin with, they are encased in the dentin, which protects against infection and happens to be yellow in appearance. This layer is less mineralised and tends to form throughout life.

Above it lies the enamel. Although relatively durable and thick, it’s less sturdy than the dentin, making it prone to chipping. In fact, this is the outermost layer of the teeth and the main culprit for the shade of your smile. But it’s not because of the colour. Technically, the enamel is translucent, so there is little it can do about the look you covet about (at least not without some external assistance). Rather it’s the exposure to different environments that alters its appearance.

It serves to shield off the structures from impact and extreme temperatures the same way a coat keeps you from the cold. Without it, every sip and bite would cause irreversible damage.

Now, when parts of the enamel wear off over time, the dentin can show through and that’s one reason for the problem.

Another one is poor oral hygiene. When you don’t wash your teeth right, plaque builds up inside the mouth, which later results in tartar. They can both make your white structures yellowish. The good news is that once you get rid of them, you will restore the shine of your pearls.

woman with coffee

The third and commonest reason is your habits. For the most part, it’s things like ketchup, coffee, tea, wine, and other offenders that contribute to the problem. Eating curry and smoking takes a toll too. The general rule of thumb is: if it stains your tongue, chances are it will do the same to your teeth.

Finally, some diseases and treatments might influence how your smile looks from within.

What Are Some DIY Teeth Whitening Methods?

Let’s admit it, you can’t always cough up an amount as high as $700 for an in-office teeth whitening session. That’s why most people prefer to try some at-home techniques first. Here are the different products and tools you can have if you are willing to stick with the over-the-counter options.

  • Whitening toothpaste

What is the secret here, how does it work, you would ask? Well, it comes with a chemical that sticks to the teeth, making it seem as if they are whiter than usual. The substance goes under the name blue covarine. If you use it long enough, say six weeks, you will notice some changes. However, keep in mind that toothpaste only works on the surface and won’t treat any spots or discolouration lodged underneath the enamel.

  • Hydrogen peroxide

This chemical compound has universal application, both around the house and on the medical scene. In small doses, it can have a nice effect on your white structures, but you should be extra careful with it. Pick a bottle of the solution at a 3% concentration just to be in the safe zone. Soak your toothbrush in it and apply directly on the teeth, brushing your way in and out. Rinse with water to ensure all debris is gone.

Another way to go is to mix one part of hydrogen peroxide with one part water. Use as a mouthwash for 30 seconds. Make sure you don’t swallow any of it because it can burn your throat and organs.

  • Activated charcoal

The powder can be employed to brighten your smile naturally. All you have to do is get your hands on one of those small pots, immerse your toothbrush in it so it catches on the tiny particles, and then wash your teeth as normal. Don’t get intimidated by how tinted everything will look. Once you rinse your mouth, those pearly whites will immediately show.

  • Gum

The market has an abundance of gum choices to suit all tastes, literally. Instead of going for your regular piece of gum, try a whitening one this time around. It comes with mild abrasive properties, which help to clean gunk and remove existing stains, as well as a chemical called sodium hexametaphosphate. This buddy will make sure you don’t develop any future strains.

  • Strips

There are some over-the-counter whitening strips that you should apply for a set period of time. They contain varying bleaching agent concentrations. Aside from that, some also have tiny amounts of hydrogen peroxide which we already discussed above.

Here is what you ought to consider before buying anything for home use. First of all, check if it's approved by dentists in Singapore and that it meets the established safety standards. Second, always read the instructions before applying.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of DIY Treatments?


  • It is affordable - there are no dentist fees involved.
  • It’s convenient because you can do it at your leisure or whenever you feel like it. You don’t have to book an appointment at a clinic. Conforming to their visiting hours might interfere with your schedule and cause inconveniences that you weren’t prepared for.


  • When you are performing a teeth whitening procedure at home, you run the risk of doing things incorrectly. For instance, you might apply the product at the wrong time or keep it on for longer than necessary, which will compromise the results. What’s worse is it may even cause structural damage.
  • That leads us to the next point, which is safety. DIY products and devices are not as good as the professional ones but that doesn’t mean the risk of messing up is smaller. On the contrary, since you are not a professional, you will not know what to do, nor will you have the experience required for a quality performance.
  • It’s not nearly as effective as professional whitening. You won’t yield the same results as you would if you were to have the procedure done by a medical expert using premium equipment. So, when you face the outcome, it might make you upset.

What Does Professional Teeth Whitening Comprise?

visiting dentist for teeth whitening

When you undergo in-office whitening, they will place a retractor (small plastic device) on your lips to keep them out of the way. A barrier will cover your gums so they are safe from damage too. When this step is over, the dentist will apply a whitening agent (hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide) on the teeth and leave it on for 60 minutes. Once the session is completed, the results will be evident right away.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Professional In-office Procedures?


  • The effects of the treatment will last over a long period.
  • You will be served by a professional, which gives you safety and peace of mind.
  • They will stick with high-class tools to get the job done.


  • These procedures come with a heavy price tag, which involves the cost of the equipment, the dentist’s fees, and the product itself - if such is necessary.

What Are Some Concerns Regarding Both?

In general, whichever method you go by, there is always a risk of developing teeth sensitivity for some time after the treatment, however, it’ll diminish fast. Now, you may also come to experience gum irritation which will go away after the manipulation ends.

That being said, professional teeth whitening in Singapore is so far a better option because it is administered in a medical setting by a person who knows what they are doing. The concentrations they use are all predetermined based on each individual case. Not to mention, the equipment is finer and more powerful, which allows for greater results. Lastly, the chance of developing side effects is slim to none.

Ubiqi is a content site started by a group of professionals who work closely with the medical scene to help make factual, health information in Singapore easily accessible through the online space. All content published on Ubiqi is written either by doctors themselves or by professionals very close to the medical scene.


Don’t find the procedure you’re looking for? Let us know and we’d get a doctor to author an article addressing your questions.


Dr Shenthilkumar Naidu Dr Shenthilkumar Naidu | Plastic Surgeons
Dr Wong Saw Yeen Dr Wong Saw Yeen | Plastic Surgeons
Dr Chan Chi Chin Dr Chan Chi Chin | Plastic Surgeons
Dr Joethy Janna-Vale Dr Janna-vale Joethy | Plastic Surgeons
Dr Marlene Teo Dr Marlene Teo | Dentist
Dr Vincent Yeow Dr Vincent Yeow | Plastic Surgeons
Dr Goh Seng Heng Dr Goh Seng Heng | Aesthetic Doctors