Over-the-Counter vs. Professional Teeth Whitening

The decision between over-the-counter teeth whitening products and professional teeth whitening treatment can be difficult to wade through for many consumers and patients. Not only are there several different options for at-home, over-the-counter treatment to consider, but there are multiple options for professional treatment too. Below, we will break down some of the biggest differences between the two options.

Whitening Ability

When it comes to choosing a teeth whitening method, there is a large range if whitening ability between dental products. By far, professional teeth whitening will always lead to a longer-lasting, more significant whitening than anything consumers can buy over-the-counter. The reason for this is that the treatments used in professional teeth whitening have a stronger, high concentration of whitening agents that would simply be unsafe to sell to consumers in an over-the-counter capacity. Under the careful eye of a dentist, these whitening treatments can be performed relatively risk-free, and dramatically whiten a patients teeth. If you feel your teeth need a dramatic change, this is likely the best option to acheive results. 

Types of Treatments

At Dr. Bowyer’s office, we use Zoom Teeth Whitening as well as a light enhanced whitening procedure called Zoom Whitespeed. Both of these Zoom teeth whitening options will produce dramatic results that will give you a whiter and brighter smile. 

When it comes to home teeth whitening, the market is flooded with a variety of different options that provide different levels of effectiveness. While none of the options compare to professional teeth whitening, there are options that can be effective. A few of the options to consider:

  • Teeth whitening strips: these are strips some of the most recognizable teeth whitening options, as they have been on shelves for many years. These also are some of the most effective over-the-counter options, when used properly. These strips must be applied and sit over your teeth for 20 or so minutes, and patients often use these multiple times to get results. This option can lead to some minor discomfort and sensitivity.
  • Teeth whitening pens: the convienience of these pens is often a draw for many consumers. The pen is used to apply the whitening formula directly to recently cleaned and dried teeth before going to sleep at night. The formula is then expected to sit on the teeth overnight, gradually whitening the teeth. While this may sound easy to use, the drawback to this convienience is in the results. While some people are able to acheive results when using the pen regularly, others see little to no change. Another drawback is that this treatment is only effective for your very front teeth. 
  • Boil-and-bite trays: Like the whitening strips above, the tray method can be very effective when it comes to whitening teeth. The key here is to ensure that the boil-and-bite tray provides good contact between the teeth and the cleaning solution. The more contact and extended contact you can acheive between your teeth and the formula will lead to better whitening results. These trays are popular, but slightly less so than the strips, as they are seen as potentially more uncomfortable.


One of the primary reasons that consumers choose to use over-the-counter whitening treatments vs professional treatments comes down to cost. That said, while the initial cost of the professional treatment is significantly more than at-home, over-the-counter treatments often require consumers to endlessly use them to reach any sort of results. This long-time cost can add up over time. While professional teeth whitening is not a permanent fix, the results are more dramatic, and much longer lasting. To identify the best course of treatment for you, Dr. Bowyer offers a free consultation. Give his office a call at (360) 253-2640 to schedule yours.