Teeth Whitening

There are 3 types of whitening systems on the market: over-the-counter, professional strength at-home whitening, and in-office whitening.

Over the Counter

Over the counter whitening systems are found in drug and retail stores. They can be strips or preformed trays with bleach gel already dispensed. This gel is typically hydrogen peroxide based because its peak working time is very short.


  • Short treatment times—typical instructions are to use for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Inexpensive—a 2 week treatment can cost $40–60.


  • Pre-formed strips or trays—this can mean the gel does not reach all parts of the teeth or can come into contact with the gums.
  • Sensitivity is generally greater.

Professional Strength at Home Whitening

Professional strength at home systems usually require custom fit trays that are made from impressions taken at the office. You will be given the trays and whitening gel syringes. A small amount of gel is placed in the tray and the tray is worn for the specified amount of time. Depending on the particular type of whitening gel used, wear times can range from 30 minutes to overnight.


  • Custom fit trays minimize the chance of bleach coming into contact with gum tissue and improve the contact of gel in hard to reach areas.
  • The whitening gel usually contains a desensitizing agent to minimize sensitivity.
  • The trays can be kept for future use.


  • Requires impressions to be taken.
  • Treatment times vary depending on the type of gel used.

In-Office Whitening

In office whitening systems allow a more rapid option to whiten teeth. This is the perfect option for someone who wants results in the shortest treatment time. A powerful whitening agent can provide results that typically take 2–3 weeks in just a couple of hours.


  • Results can be seen in hours rather than days or weeks.
  • No need to keep up with the routine of daily usage.


  • Although a desensitizing agent is used, there is generally more sensitivity associated with in-office whitening due to the powerful nature of the gel used.
  • To achieve the best results, additional sessions or take home trays may still be required.

Smiling woman