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Professional vs. Over-the-Counter Teeth Whitening: Safety, Efficacy, and Cost

Professional vs. Over-the-Counter Teeth Whitening: Safety, Efficacy, and Cost

Professional vs. Over-the-Counter Teeth Whitening: Safety, Efficacy, and Cost

There are few physical traits more attractive than a vibrant, healthy smile, and there is nothing more fundamental to such a smile than radiant white teeth free from stains and other discoloration. With this in mind, it is unsurprising that teeth whitening has become so popular over the past few years. Visit the oral hygiene section of any store, and you will find dozens of products that claim they will make your teeth whiter, from rinses and toothpastes to strips and full systems complete with gels and mouth trays.

With all of these products at your disposal, you could be forgiven for wondering whether professional whitening at a reputable dentist’s office is worth the extra expense. After all, many of these whitening products are manufactured by well-known companies, while others make claims that certainly sound promising. One thing that is beyond dispute is that they do cost less.

Dr. Craig S. Kohler is often asked to expand upon the issue of professional vs. over-the-counter (OTC) teeth whitening during consultations at his Chicago, IL cosmetic dentistry practice. Dr. Kohler proudly offers Zoom!® professional teeth whitening at his practice, and he is pleased to compare this treatment with the many OTC options available. If you are curious about how professional teeth whitening compares to its OTC counterpart, please read the following blog post and then schedule your initial consultation with Dr. Kohler today.


In terms of safety, most OTC whitening products are perfectly fine, especially if you stick with known brands such as Crest, a company that produces a safe and relatively effective whitening strip. However, even with the safest whitening product, the lack of professional supervision poses a potential problem. Whitening products can be accidentally misused or, even worse, intentionally misused in an attempt to accelerate or enhance results. Users can end up causing irreparable damage to their enamel and their gums.

While many OTC whitening solutions are relatively weak, some are extremely strong and therefore dangerous. Even people who decide to go the OTC route for teeth whitening would be wise to consult with a dentist before using any product.


Simply put, there is not an OTC teeth whitening product on the market that can match the results of professional teeth whitening systems. This is not to say that there are not OTC products capable of producing good results. Actually, in recent years, some products – especially whitening strips – have proven quite effective, as long as users have modest whitening goals. However, no OTC product can whiten teeth by up to eight shades in a single hour-long session, as the Zoom!® professional whitening system can. Any OTC product that makes a claim even close to this should be approached with great skepticism and probably be avoided.


This is the one area in which, on the surface, OTC teeth whitening products have an edge over professional teeth whitening. However, in terms of return on investment, professional teeth whitening is by far the winner. When you undergo a professional teeth whitening treatment, you will benefit from a dramatically whiter, yet still natural-looking smile for years to come – five years or longer with proper oral hygiene. You’ll also have a touch-up kit to help maintain your results. With OTC whitening products, you’ll achieve less dramatic results much more slowly, if at all. Any results you do achieve, you will have to maintain by using the product consistently. That cost can add up over time. Ultimately, you may end up paying more for results that don’t come close to the results you could have achieved through professional teeth whitening.

Learn More about Professional vs. OTC Teeth Whitening

To learn more about professional vs. OTC teeth whitening, contact the cosmetic dentistry practice of Dr. Craig S. Kohler today.