Teeth whitening: What is the difference between professional whitening and over-the-counter kits?

When we talk about professional home teeth whitening we refer to a cosmetic dentistry treatment involving the application of a bleaching agent (usually one containing a small percentage of hydrogen peroxide using mouthguards. This procedure brightens/whitens the appearance of the teeth by two to three shades and at the same time removes significant tooth discolouration.

Teeth whitening results in the restoration of personal confidence in your smile, how it looks to you and how it looks to others.

We offer professional teeth whitening at Wimpole Street Dental Clinic and are often asked – which is better – professional teeth whitening treatment or the use of DIY over-the-counter kits?

Here, in this table we show the differences between each method so that you can decide for yourself.

Treatment StageProfessional whitening  Over-the-counter kits  
Consultation and OptionsWe offer three whitening treatment options, providing full information and expert guidance and advice on each one at your individual consultation

1. Home bleaching/At-Home Whitening – with the use of tailor-made mouthguards for both the upper and lower jaws
2. In-office or ‘chair-side’ bleaching.
3. A combination of 1. and 2.   

Professional aftercare information, advice and follow-up appointments offered as standard
No consultation – the product relies on the consumer carefully reading and following the instruction leaflet provided once purchased.

1. Home bleaching with the use of a mouthguard – standard size which may not fit and so leak
2. Toothpastes
3. Teeth whitening strips – usually just for front six teeth
4. Paint-on kits
5. Laser whitening kits    

No aftercare
ProductAll bleaching options with a bleaching agent usually containing 6% hydrogen peroxide as regulated for use by a GDC registered practitioner.    All over-the-counter kits, regardless of product type – have no more than 0.1% hydrogen peroxide as the active agent.    
ProcessWith this level of concentration, the product can penetrate deeper into the tooth surface. The bleaching gel is applied to the teeth and is then activated by UV-light.Specific instructions may vary, but the bleaching agent is applied to reservoir of the standard fit mouthguard ready to wear for a specified period.
SafetySide-effects include increased tooth sensitivity and irritated gums, but this is short-lived post-treatment (less than 3 days). We achieve the highest standards of patient safety due to our expert cosmetic dentist or hygienist conducting the treatment, the use of a tailor-made mouthguard and our years of professional experience within this field.It may be preferable to buy from a pharmacy on the high street rather than an online retailer to protect yourself against counterfeit or bogus product (containing harmful chemicals); as they have met all EU laws and regulations. Standard fit mouthguards can leak.
ReliabilityOur three bleaching options are tried and evaluated with thousands of satisfied patients. Ask to see some of our patients’ recent teeth whitening results plus Before and After galleries.  Online reviews can be publicised so the only way to know if the over-the-counter kit you have purchased will truly work for you is to try it. There is a much higher risk and so gamble involved when selecting and conducting teeth whitening by yourself at home when you have no experience of this treatment and no idea how it will turn out.
ResultsWe can achieve results which last an average of three to five years. Please note that the results achieved at the end of the treatment are mostly not permanent.Often short-term effects as the level of hydrogen peroxide contained within them is so low. The abrasion may remove the enamel and so the dentine (naturally yellow in colour) may show through leading you to possibly consider veneers in due course.  
Costs At Wimpole Street Dental Clinic:  
Home Whitening Trays and Whitening Gel £500
Zoom Teeth whitening £500
Zoom Teeth Whitening including Home Kit £900  
Offered on the high street usually within the £10-£150 price range.

We would encourage you to book an appointment to discuss professional teeth whitening at Wimpole Street Dental Clinic as cosmetic/aesthetic dentistry is one of our key clinical strengths alongside general dentistry practice.

We have qualified cosmetic dentists on an in-house basis plus state-of-the-art dental aesthetic treatment options to achieve high quality and long-lasting results.

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