Should I Be Avoiding Over-the-Counter Whitening?

Over-the-counter (OTC) tooth whitening products are quite popular: they are simple to use and offer great results. Furthermore, the whitening products are inexpensive and easy to access. In saying that, is over-the-counter whitening worth it? The answer depends on several factors.

The Results you Seek. 

Although some whitening products are sold as the ultimate solution for discolored teeth, the results are not dramatic. OTC whitening products take a lot of time to yield results, with most brands requiring daily use for at least six weeks before any difference is visible. Furthermore, the colour change is often subtle. This is because OTC whitening products use low-concentration bleaching agents to meet safety standards.

On the other hand, professional tooth whitening yields instantaneous results. The procedure involves using high-concentration bleaching agents and laser technology to enhance the whitening process. As a result, the change in tooth colour is dramatic.


Although professional tooth whitening is a short-day procedure, it’s relatively expensive. Furthermore, many insurance plans don’t cover it, and patients pay out of pocket. Alternatively, OTC whitening products are cheaper. Therefore, they are the best choice for anyone on a tight budget.

Condition of your Teeth

Tooth whitening only works for some sets of teeth. If you have veneers, crowns or fillings, whitening will not work. Therefore, you may get uneven results. Furthermore, using OTC whitening products is discouraged when there is tooth sensitivity and gum disease.


Some individuals have terrible allergies, and they may develop irritation, swelling and itchiness after using whitening products. If you know which ingredient triggers your allergies, you can seek alternatives, but if you are uncertain, it’s best to avoid all whitening agents.

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Bleaching agents often cause irritation and sensitivity. This is not always an allergic response but stop using the OTC whitening products if it’s persistent and overwhelming.

Side Effects

Unfortunately, OTC whitening products can cause several side effects that you should know. For example;

Gum Irritation

Some people may develop irritation when the whitening product comes in contact with the gums. It often presents as pain, itchiness, and swelling around the gum tissue. Your gums may also turn red. Fortunately, a simple solution to the problem is keeping the whitening solution away from the gums. Therefore, ensure the whitening trays are properly fitted to the teeth.

Tooth Sensitivity 

Although whitening products are designed to work on the tooth’s surface, some of the chemicals can seep into the inner structure and cause sensitivity. Fortunately, it’s a temporary side effect. However, tooth sensitivity from long-term use of whitening products is often more permanent and requires a dentist’s attention.

Uneven Whitening

Unfortunately, whitening products can cause uneven results. This occurs when the gel or solution is not applied evenly. Furthermore, differences in the level of discolouration can cause some areas to look different from others after the whitening process.

Damage to the Enamel

Long-term use of whitening products can weaken the enamel and leave the tooth vulnerable to decay. Most products use abrasive ingredients like hydrated silica that can cause wear and tear over time. Furthermore, the bleaching agents cause chemical reactions in the enamel, which may enhance weakening. Therefore, it’s advised to use whitening products cautiously and avoid long-term application.

Currently, there are numerous different types of OTC whitening products. For example, some brands sell a whitening gel while others produce a standard toothpaste with whitening properties. Regardless, all the products have a bleaching agent responsible for the color change. Hydrated silica is also used in most whitening products as an abrasive to remove plaque and improve surface bleaching. As you make your purchase, ensure your product has a safety stamp and all the necessary approvals.

Ultimately, talking to the dentist before using any whitening products is a good idea. Your dentist will recommend the best way to achieve your desired results and maintain good dental health.