Over the Counter versus Professional Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening may be performed at home or at a dental office. Regardless of what you choose, the procedure involves basically placing a bleaching agent on your teeth, which will clean the teeth from stains and make them whiter. If you are unsure whether to choose over the counter whitening products or get a professional treatment, here is what you need to know.


The main difference between the available over the counter teeth bleaching products (whitening gels, trays or strips) and the in office bleaching is the percentage of the bleaching agent that is used.

The over the counter products will typically contain up to 10% hydroxide peroxide, which is a bleacher used in most whitening products. Products that have over 10% bleaching agent are not safe for at home use. The in office bleaching agent will contain up to 25% of hydroxide peroxide.

The higher the concentration of the bleaching agent, the more effective the whitening procedure, so the professional bleaching will give you better results. In addition, most in office bleaching procedures will also employ laser beams, which will make the whitening more effective.

On average, a professional teeth whitening can give you three to eight shades whiter teeth, while the at home products will only improve the color of your teeth by two to four shades.

Risks Involved

In terms of the risks involved, the over the counter teeth whitening procedures may be more risky, even if the percentage in the bleaching agents is low and typically safe. However, if you don’t follow the instructions and you accidentally spill bleach on your gums or tongue, you may experience some pain and irritation.

If you choose an in office bleaching, the dental professional will take all the safety measures needed to make sure the bleaching agent is only applied on the teeth. If you have more sensitive teeth, you may experience pain, even when using the at home kits. It’s always best to consult a dental professional prior to getting at home teeth whitening.

Time Required

When it comes to the time involved in the over the counter whitening treatments, these will take 10 to 20 minutes daily for two to four weeks on average.

An in office teeth whitening will take up to 60 minutes and no additional appointments will be required. The effects of the at home whitening kits are visible for up to 12 months, depending on your lifestyle and what you eat and drink. The effects of an in office bleaching will be visible for several years and your teeth will always look whiter than you initial shade.

Costs Involved

In terms of costs, the over the counter teeth whitening products are less expensive. You can buy whitening kits starting from $10. The professional bleaching will cost more, depending on the clinic you choose and the procedure performed. However, if you consider the durability of a professional bleaching, this solution may be cost effective also.

Have specific questions?

All Article Categories

Before & After Photos

Suggested Doctors

Recently Asked Questions