FAQs: OTC vs. Professional Teeth Whitening

We have plenty of options when it comes to brightening our smile. From over-the-counter solutions to professional treatments, you can remove discoloration and enjoy a more attractive smile. However, which will work best for your smile, over the counter teeth whitening or professional solutions?

Common Questions About Teeth Whitening Options

Question: What are my over-the-counter options?

Answer: There a number of store-bought options for erasing discoloration. The most common are whitening strips, which are worn for over the teeth for a certain amount of time to remove stains. People may also find whitening mouthwashes and toothpastes.

Question: What are my professional options?

Answer: At our office we offer one that combines office-based and at-home procedures. The patient comes to the offer for an initial treatment. They then go home with a set of custom-made trays and a bleaching gel. Each day for a week to ten days the patient fills the trays with gel and wears them for a certain amount of time the doctor will recommend. They then return for a final office treatment. This option can remove a number of stains, including the severe discoloration that over-the-counter options rarely address.

Question: Which works best?

Answer: We typically recommend the professional option from a dentist. While over-the-counter options are considered cost-effective, the results aren’t as dramatic and simply don’t last as long. In addition, patients may also experience tooth sensitivity and gum irritation.

Question: Will I benefit from veneers?

Answer: For permanent discoloration, which can result from certain medications, fluorosis, or injury, most whitening options may not be enough. In these situations we may place a thin shell of porcelain onto the front of the teeth to mask the stains. We can also use this option to repair damaged or malformed teeth.


Calcagno Cosmetic and Family Dentistry offer expert services including dental implants, Six Month Smiles, pediatric dentistry, root canals, and teeth whitening in Rochester MN. To schedule a consultation, please call (507) 218-8936. Dr. Gilly Calcagno and Dr. Kara Heimer welcome and serve patients from Rochester, Red Wing, St. Charles, Winona, Farmington, Austin, and the surrounding communities.