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December 30, 2020

Over The Counter Teeth Whitening Versus Professional Teeth Whitening

Over The Counter Teeth Whitening Versus Professional Teeth Whitening By Barbies Beauty Bits

Over The Counter, Teeth Whitening Versus Professional Teeth Whitening is a question many have, but which is better, and do over the counter teeth whiteners really work? Are they even safe?

I am like most people; I want a brighter, whiter smile. Having a full set of pearly white teeth makes you feel more confident and usually perceived as a sign of good health and that you practice proper oral hygiene.

But teeth whitening comes with a lot of cultural baggage; there are tons of teeth whitening hacks I see daily on Instagram, TikTok, and beauty blogs. And although some influencer teeth whitening advice works, some are a bunch of BS that a dentist would surely debunk. 

While most people are not going to rub peroxide on their teeth with a Q-tip, gargle with coconut oil, rub your teeth with a banana peel or exfoliate your teeth with strawberries, many will consider using an over the counter teeth whitener, but do they really work?

In this post, we look at some unvarnished truths about teeth whitening shared with me by a professional.  I will focus on the difference between over the counter teeth whitening versus professional-grade teeth whitening.  

professional teeth whitening vs at home By Barbies Beauty Bits

Here’s What I Learned About 

Over The Counter Teeth Whitening Versus Professional Teeth Whitening

Not All LED Teeth Whitener Kits Are Safe For Your Teeth
I'm sure you've seen these; they are those little gizmos that look like an oversized pacifier and come with an LED light. Well, did you know that some of them are actually damaging your teeth? What??? I would have never known this as I have used them and had good results, but I just learned that the results I saw may have not come from the whitening solution's effect but rather dehydration. What the heck, I never knew this!!!!

You see, the bulk of the whitening action from these types of teeth whiteners comes from dehydration, not hydrogen peroxide. When you remove the moisture from your tooth enamel, your teeth will dry out and become whiter. So before considering using one of these OTC gel and LED kits do your research. 

Do At-Home Teeth Whiteners Work As Well As Professional Grade Whiteners
Over-the-counter teeth whiteners do work; I can attest to that, but they do not work as fast or as well as the professional-grade whitener you would get from your dentist.  But why?  There are many reasons why, but the biggest is the strength of the product. There’s a big difference between the strength of treatment that manufacturers can offer over-the-counter and what dentists can offer.

Best Teeth Whitening Products By Barbies Beauty Bits

Over The Counter Teeth Whiteners
Practically all teeth whitening options rely on some kind of bleaching options. Over-the-counter whitening products usually use hydrogen peroxide as their active ingredient. However, the concentration levels of these are low. My dentist told me that companies need to do this so there are no harmful side effects like chemical burns to the gums (as no one would purchase if that was a side effect).  The low concentration takes many applications and usage before you start seeing any difference in your teeth's colors and usually can't whiten any more than three shades, EVER!!!!

Professional Grade Teeth Whitening From A Dental Practice
Professional grade whitening is more effective because of the higher-concentration bleaching techniques (some can change up to 8 shades). Secondly, before you even start, you would get a personal consultation to discuss the teeth whitening options to help you decide which one is right for you.  

Unlike over the counter, where one size and number of applications is for everyone, at a dentist's office, they usually use a custom-tray fit to the mouth to make sure it is applied directly onto the tooth and stays far away from the gum area.  And as a bonus, the whitening gel used can be PH neutral, which means it helps prevent cavities! Speaking of cavities, that brings me to my next tip on teeth whitening.

best flossing quotes for dentists

Whitening Can’t Compensate For Proper Oral Hygiene
Professional, at-home bleaching kits are easy to use with some simple guidelines. One being you need to take care of your teeth, as while whitening can help enhance the results of an effective oral hygiene routine, it can’t replace it.

The first step to keeping your teeth bright and white is to practice good oral hygiene. Ideally, this includes brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing to remove plaque and buildup, and using mouthwash to get rid of bacteria that can cause plaque. It is also, and I am bad at this, best to brush your teeth right after you eat to help keep your teeth stain-free and healthy.

Some Others Ways To Help Whitening Your Teeth And Make The Best Use Of A Whitener

  1. Don't Smoke... Smokers often have yellow teeth because of the tar in cigarettes. Whitening can help temporarily, but the results won’t last long if the smoking continues. The best way to keep your teeth looking great is to stop smoking and ditch the habit.
  2. Be Careful About What You Eat and Drink
    1. Some specific foods and beverages are culprits of teeth discoloration, including red wine, coffee, tea, soft drinks, and even some berries, and I consume all of them!! These foods get their color from intensely pigmented molecules called chromogens, which bind to your teeth' enamel.
    2. Another food discoloring culprit is acidic foods like citrus, which can weaken your enamel, making your teeth more susceptible to staining.

Teeth Whitening Can’t Remove All Forms Of Discoloration From The Teeth
Another reason why it is also essential to see a professional for teeth whitening is to establish the reason for your discolored teeth, as teeth whitening can't remove all types of discolorations—for example, greying of the teeth. The extensive use of Pharmaceutical drugs usually causes this. No amount of bleaching will make a difference because the cause of the discoloration has to do with the enamel itself, not a stain. In these cases, veneers are usually a better solution.

To Sum Up What I Learned 

You get what you pay for, meaning the lower cost of home whitening comes with lower quality results; while some can whiten your teeth, it is only a few shades, they don't last as long, and you also risk misuse and can unknowingly damage your teeth, I know I have. 

You can also end up paying more by using an over the counter whitener if you are continually using these over the years versus a professional treatment that can get the job done right the first time as long you do your part in proper hygiene and limiting heavy stain ingredients. Bottom line as with any cosmetic product do your research, read reviews, and look for real before and after photos.  

Oh, and if anyone has tried brushing their teeth with strawberries or rubbed your teeth with a banana peel to whiten, I'd love to know the results! 

Until next time!



  1. I use over the counter teeth whiteners all the time. I know they're not as effective as professional whitening, but they're so much more affordable.

  2. I use them at home occasionally but there is nothing that compares to the one in the dental office.

  3. This post is really informative, I have to trying getting my teeth professionally whitened.

  4. I also want to have whiter teeth. My dentist says my teeth have discolored maybe because of drinking coffee, milk tea, or wine. Having a DIY teeth whitener that's effective sounds like a must-try!

  5. This is great to know. I've been wanting to do teeth whitener, but wasn't sure which way to go. It's great to know more about this from both sides.

  6. I've never tried to have whitened my teeth because it's expensive. Glad to know this ideas.

  7. Great post! I've used strips and tooth pastes before but if my teeth ever get to really needing whitened I'll go to the professionals!

  8. I've used over the counter as well as the custom trays and syringes provided by my dentist. The ones from the dentist were much more effective. I don't drink red wine, but I can't quit coffee.

  9. I was just telling my son it's time for our 6 month cleaning. He is too little to get them whitened (teen) but since he got the protective sealant they get yellow so easy (and they didn't before). Ugh.

  10. I would really like to get my teeth whitened. This is interesting information and good to know when it is time to choose a method.

  11. Mama Maggie's KitchenDecember 31, 2020 at 10:36 PM

    This is such a good read and an eye opener. My family prefers Professional Teeth Whitening!

  12. I was thinking about the homemade teeth whitening and it's great to know more about it!

  13. Never tried about whitening toothpastes but glad I came over this post. Indeed new learning for all of us. It's really important that we know such information before trying out something.

  14. Yes professional whitening is always great one but over the counter ones are afforable.


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