Professional vs over-the-counter tooth whitening: What's the difference?

Whiter Teeth With Over-The-Counter Products

You’ve probably seen the adverts for these products online, or you'll have seen them in shops. They include whitening toothpastes, strips, pens, charcoal and DIY whitening kits.

Toothpastes are the easiest and most affordable option, yet effects are usually minimal due to the low levels of bleach.

Gels, strips and pens tend to fall into the same group as toothpastes where they all offer more active ingredients when it comes to bleaching. Strips are simply thin pieces of paper-like material that you apply onto your teeth regularly, and pens are devices you use to paint a whitening gel onto your teeth. In these cases, you'll need to include these routines into your day, often for 20-30 minutes at a time. These products usually offer several shades difference in your teeth and can take several weeks to show results.

DIY whitening kits are the closest product you can buy to a professional whitening treatment. In this case, a kit will usually contain a mouthguard. You'll fill it with the bleaching gel, then wear it for 30 minutes a day. You will also need to use the special light that activates the bleaching ingredients. While this method can offer noticeably whiter teeth, it does require a real time investment each day, and since it is something you purchase in-store, there is a limit on the strength of the bleach. This limit does protect your mouth from harm, but it's also not quite as powerful as what a professional dentist is legally permitted to use.

In-chair Teeth Whitening With A Dental Practitioner

The main advantages of getting your teeth whitened by a professional is that it’s the most effective method of teeth whitening and only takes one hour.

Your dentist will apply a whitening gel to your teeth, then let you relax as they position an LED light over your mouth to activate the agent. You may only need to do this just once, or your dentist might suggest two applications in one visit for added results. Once the gel has been rinsed off, you will immediately notice a difference in your teeth.

You can maintain a whiter smile by avoiding food and drink that could stain them for the next few days, such as coffee, tea, and berries.

Of course, another benefit of having in-chair treatment is that your treatment is done under the supervision of a professional, meaning it’s safer for you.

In any case, your first stop for whitening is to speak with Ocean Reef Dental. Since they know your teeth, they will be the best to advise if an over-the-counter product will be enough to achieve the results you're after, or if you'll need something stronger like professional in-chair whitening.