The Differences between OTC and Professional Whitening Products

Sep 13, 2014

With its ease of application and instant results, teeth whitening is the top cosmetic dentistry procedure in America, and the trend only seems to be growing. Of course, whenever a demand is generated for a certain service, an abundance of competing products are sure to follow. This is clearly the case when it comes to teeth whitening, as consumers are offered a variety of over-the-counter products and brands to rival professional whitening treatment. But how similar are these options, really? To help our Bridgeport patients make an informed decision about their smiles, we offer the following information on professional versus store-bought whitening gel.


Are Over-the-counter Products Effective?

If you are considering purchasing an in-store teeth whitening product, you’re probably wondering just how effective it is. After all, a mass marketed product for consumers is not likely to produce the same results as one used solely in the dentist’s office. Indeed, over-the-counter (OTC) whitening gels tend to have a much lower concentration of bleaching agent than those used in a professional whitening session. In many cases, these store-bought products only contain 10 percent hydrogen peroxide, whereas professional whitening gels can have concentrations as high as 40 percent. As a result, they barely impact the color of the teeth – at most, by a couple of shades. When you visit your dentist for whitening, a simple one-hour session can brighten a smile by up to eight shades for years.

While it wouldn’t be fair to say that OTC whitening products do nothing, their capacity to brighten a smile is relatively limited. If you are looking to noticeably whiten your teeth and remove stains, professional treatment has a clear advantage.

The Side Effects of Whitening

Since professional whitening gel has a higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide, some patients may be wary of its increased side effects. Namely, teeth whitening is commonly associated with heightened tooth sensitivity for a day or two after treatment. However, professional procedures take multiple steps to reduce this sensitivity, as well as the chance of gel coming in contact with gum tissue. As a result, teeth whitening has very few risks and is easily tolerable for most patients.

Although OTC products are weaker and therefore result in less sensitivity on their own, patients do not benefit from the same precautions as they would at the dentist. The gel is instead applied through a poorly fitting tray, without any other products to reduce sensitivity (as your dentist may use), and too much may be applied in too short a time-span. Without your dentist’s skilled application and expert advice, teeth whitening can easily become an uncomfortable hassle.

A Worthwhile Investment

The reason for foregoing professional treatment in lieu of OTC products is simple: it’s cheaper. But, as with many things, you truly do get what you pay for. OTC teeth whitening offers minimal results while increasing the likelihood of poorly applied gel, chemical burns on gum tissue, and a potential waste of time. More importantly, consumers may not realize that their enamel is already thin or weakened, leading them to over-bleach and erode enamel further. With your dentist’s guidance, you can ensure that whitening treatment is both effective and safe. For your investment, you can achieve a long-lasting bright smile in under an hour.

Achieve Your New Smile with Us

A brand new smile is within your reach. Schedule an appointment to learn more about professional teeth whitening and its range of benefits”]. Or, if you are interested in any of our other cosmetic dentistry options, our dental professionals will gladly help you find the most appropriate option for you.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Consult a qualified dental professional to determine the best dental/orthodontic treatment for your needs.