The Difference Between Over the Counter & Professional Teeth Whitening

Have you ever looked in the mirror and wished your smile was whiter? Teeth whitening has become one of the most popular cosmetic dental procedures in the world. Your smile should be something you are confident with, and a white smile can be achieved through over the counter or professional whitening treatments.

Over The Counter Whitening Treatments

Over the counter whitening treatments such as whitening toothpastes, gels, strips, or rinses are cheap options to obtain a whiter smile. All products use a bleaching agent that gently whitens your smile with no damage to your tooth enamel.

Whitening Toothpastes

Toothpastes can be used daily to enhance your smile. However, whitening toothpastes can only fix surface stains and whiten your teeth by one shade.

Whitening Gels

Whitening gels can be applied directly to your teeth using a small brush. However, without dental supervision, the whitening agent could get on your gums and cause irritation.

Whitening Strips

Peroxide- based whitening strips are virtually invisible, and can be placed directly on your teeth twice daily for 14 days. Initial results are seen in a couple of days, and long-term results are present for about four months.

Whitening Rinses

Whitening rinses are also available, but are not as effective as other over the counter products. The rinses freshen breath, reduce plaque, and whiten teeth. Rinses should be used twice daily for 60 seconds before brushing your teeth.


  • Cheapest whitening option
  • Readily available at your own convenience
  • Whitening can be done at your own pace at your own time
  • Safe to use
  • No dental appointment needed


  • Teeth whitening might not always be right for you
  • There is no dental supervision in the case something goes wrong
  • Gums are exposed and could be irritated by whitening agent
  • Trays or strips may not always cover your teeth entirely
  • Teeth should be professionally cleaned before whitening application

Professional Whitening Treatments

Having your teeth professionally whitened is the most popular cosmetic dental procedure today. Professional procedures use a stronger whitening agent, and can be done in the office, or with take home trays.

In-office Whitening

In-office whitening is done by applying a whitening gel to exposed teeth. Dentists cover sensitive areas, including gums, to ensure the gel doesn’t cause damage or irritation. The procedure typically lasts up to an hour, and gives immediate results.

At Dater Dentistry, we do not use in office whitening because we have found that at home whitening techniques cause less sensitivity. The cost of an at home whitening procedure is also less than half that of the in office, “Zoom Whitening” procedure, and gives you the same results.

Custom Take Home Trays

Take-home trays are another option for professional whitening. Custom made trays from your dentist with whitening gel can be used once a day for seven days. This allows you to obtain whiter teeth at your own convenience.


  • There is dental supervision in the case something went wrong
  • Professional whitening is safe and effective
  • Quicker results with professional whitening
  • Professional whitening lasts longer
  • Can experience higher results with professional whitening


  • Most expensive whitening option
  • Dental consultation and appointment required
  • Whitening is not for everyone

When it comes to choosing a whitening treatment, the choice mainly depends how much money you want to spend, and how fast you’re looking for results. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, over the counter treatments are right for you. If you wish to see quick results, professional whitening will work. Teeth whitening is not for everyone so it is important to consult your dentist, whether you choose over the counter or professional whitening.

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