Professional in-office teeth whitening is a faster and more effective way to get whiter teeth. It is one of the popular ways in cosmetic dentistry for smile makeover and transforming tooth discoloration. Today, you can find at-home tooth whiteners in relatively lower prices and with numerous over-the-counter products and options available. The list ranges from toothpaste, whitening pens, teeth whitening strips and kits with tray-based gels and LED devices.

However, professional in-office teeth whitening is done under dentists’ supervision and with higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide for an immediate whitening result. Although teeth whitening at dentist’s office is more expensive than home options, it has the advantage of a procedure that is administered by dentists regarding your dental condition and your whitening needs.

In this article, we will explain the pros and cons of professional in-office teeth whitening, the costs and the different kits and methods used by dentists in their dental clinic or prescribed for take-home application.

What is professional in-office teeth whitening?

In-office teeth whitening is the teeth whitening procedure that is performed to whiten teeth through the application of higher levels of whitening agents such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. The procedure varies from person to person and is based on your level of tooth discoloration and the type of stains you have. It may take 1 dental appointment or more or even your dentist may advise home sessions, too.

Professional in-office teeth whitening takes 30 minutes to 1 hour per session, where the peroxide-based whitening gels is applied on your teeth. Dentists may or may not use light-activation techniques which is thought to activate the chemical reaction of the bleaching agents in whitening gel, for the purpose of speeding up the process.


Immediate whiter teeth.

In-office teeth whitening is known for producing faster whitening effects compared to over-the-counter products due to the fact that dentists have permission to use higher concentration of whitening agents such as hydrogen peroxide in a controlled way.

Safer whitening experience.

Your dentist can examine your teeth and ask for more detailed information to check if there is any underlying dental problem prior to whitening. After all, the process is done by dentists and they can manage any issues.

Effective and good results.

If you are looking for the most effective and the highest chance of perfect whitening results, dentists or cosmetic dentists are the only person that can guide you. It is no wonder that dentists know the stains and type of tooth discoloration, and they can offer what suits you best and what can work or what may not. They can monitor the amount of progress, and they are knowledgeable in choosing materials and using a specially formulated whitening gel. Plus, they can supervise the length of time and number of applications in your whitening procedure. 

Controlled teeth sensitivity and gum irritations.

Teeth sensitivity or gum irritation is better managed by dentists through application of remineralizing agents like fluoride or by desensitizing ingredients such as potassium nitrate. Even better, dentists can formulate hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide in different percentages for decreasing tooth sensitivity risks or for home use sessions. In addition, they use special tools and materials in clinics to avoid irritations caused by bleaching agents coming into contact with gums and your mouth like using resin barrier or other protectors.


More expensive.

While at-home teeth whitener products are much affordable over-the-counter options, you need the average of $ 650 spending on professional in-office teeth whitening.


Teeth whitening in any forms is not a longtime solution and lasts temporarily. Your teeth begin to discolor again, so you require maintenance and following your daily brushing and flossing to keep the results at least in favorable shape.

Which stains can dentists remove in professional teeth whitening?

Professional teeth whitening can work well in

  • Superficial stains and yellow teeth that are caused by drinking and eating habits and formed due to poor oral hygiene
  • Stains caused by drinking soda, coffee, tea, and those stains associated with beverages or related to consumption of high-colored foods
  • Smoking and tobacco stains
  • Extrinsic stains on enamel that have not penetrated deep into the inner layers (into the dentine) of teeth

There are other stains called intrinsic stains which dentists may resort to more intense professional in-office teeth whitening for removal.

Types of intrinsic stains

Intrinsic stains are much more resistant and are deeply ingrained in tooth structure. Dentists will use stronger bleaching mechanism and more office sessions. They arrange 4 or 5 appointments and even more depending on how well the intrinsic stains respond to a desired whitening.

  • Dental fluorosis or enamel hypoplasia stains that are related to factors such as excessive fluoride exposure. These stains can range from white spots on teeth, to orange or yellow stains. Teeth surface may present with severe defects with pitting.
  • Tetracycline stains which are caused by tetracycline antibiotic intake during tooth formation of teeth. This antibiotic medication is said to affect dentine during the calcification of teeth. The discoloration of tetracycline stains can vary in types and color from yellow and gray staining to much darker gray or even blue color stains.
  • There are other intrinsic stains caused by hereditary and genetic disorders or is related to trauma or aging issues.

Your dentist can organize specific intense in-office teeth whitening sessions combined with at-home whitening applications. Thus, you can reach a satisfactory result for removing your stubborn intrinsic stain. If teeth whitening has failed or does not whiten these resistant strains completely, your dentist can recommend veneers as an alternative to whitening to achieve a beautiful smile.

The professional teeth whitening procedure

In-office teeth whitening involves a series of steps:

  • Step 1: Your dentist records the shade of your teeth according to shade guide chart and the preferable color is discussed with you.
  • Step 2: The surface of your teeth is cleaned off of any plaque and surface stains are polished.
  • Step 3: Your dentist uses a cheek retractor to expose your teeth for more careful whitening. Then your mouth is dried and resin barrier is applied on your gums between your teeth to prevent the gel from touching your gums and causing irritations.
  • Step 4: The highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide is applied to your teeth. The bleaching agent is usually around 30% to 35% hydrogen peroxide.
  • Step 5: The dentist can use UV light to activate the bleaching material. This will speed up the process and facilitate teeth whitening.
  • Step 6: The bleaching gel is left on your teeth for approximately 40 minutes or one hour. If another application is needed, the gel is removed after 15 to 30 minutes and reapplied again.
  • Step 7: Your dentist uses a high-suction tip to remove the gel. Teeth are rinsed with mild warm water. Then resin barrier is removed.
  • Step 8: To reduce teeth sensitivity and help mineralize the bleached teeth, your dentist finishes teeth whitening by applying 2% sodium fluoride gel on your teeth.

Take-home whitening kit from dentist

This is not done yet. You can continue the next teeth whitening treatments at home using the take-home teeth whitening systems prescribed by dentists.

Take-home tray whitening systems (also called matrix bleaching by dentists) is a great advantage. These dentist-monitored and dentist-prescribed whitening systems allow professional whitening to be done in the comfort of your home.

Unlike most over-the-counter products, your dentist makes your custom-fitted tray based on the impression model taken from your teeth. Your dentist will guide you in how and when to use the take-home whitening systems.

Maintenance Tips after professional teeth whitening

  • Right after teeth whitening, your teeth may appear very white. This is because of dehydration and resolves to normal and longer-lasting shade.
  • Depending on stains, teeth will lighten up to a few shades lighter or up to 7 or 8 shades lighter than original color.
  • Avoid cold drink and exposing your teeth to cold temperatures. This cold sensitivity may prolong for just 1 or 2 days.
  • Your dentist may recommend annual touch-up bleaching sessions to prevent accumulation of stains on teeth.
  • Maintain oral health routines by twice-day brushing and flossing
  • Cut down on eating and drinking high-colored acidic beverages and foods
  • Avoid smoking and tobacco use   

How much does teeth whitening cost?

The cost of teeth whitening depends on procedures, dentists or cosmetic dentists who does the procedure and the at-home products that come in various products and costs.

On average, professional in-office teeth whitening cost around $650 per session, but it can go lower to $500 or go upward to $1000 depending on your conditions and other factors. You have the advantage of having a professional procedure done by dentists, who try to ensure a safer and more in-depth teeth whitening for a picture-perfect smile.

Another popular option is take-home kits that are prescribed by dentists. Take-home kits are designed for home use and provide results similar to professional in-office teeth whitening while available over-the-counter. The cost of take-home teeth whitening systems can range $300 to $500.

Finlay comes the at-home teeth whitening over-the-counter products. The most expensive of at-home teeth whiteners are teeth whitening kits with gel-based trays and LED device. Today, these at-home whitening kits have gained popularity and are suitable for those individuals looking for a lower price compared to in-office procedure but still in professional levels. These kits are the closest to professional teeth whitening that any at-home tooth whitener can offer. They range from $70 to $300 in price.

Other at-home teeth whitening products include:

These over-the-counter products are much more affordable teeth whiteners to lighten up stains and brighten your teeth. The results vary from one brand to another.

Professional teeth whitening kits

There are some well-known professional teeth whitening brands that have been used by dentists for in-office treatments or recommended as take-home kits.

Opalescence Boost (for in-office)

Opalescence Boost is a professional whitening kit for in-office use. This professional whitening system does not have light-activation such as LED and its whitening gel is chemically activated. This is an advantage for those avoiding light catalyst during their in-office procedure. The whitening gel is formulated with a highly potent 38 percent hydrogen peroxide. The whitening gel is also made with fluoride to contribute to strengthening of enamel in teeth. Plus, potassium nitrate is part of the ingredients in Opalescence Boost to reduce sensitivity issues and offer a comfortable tooth whitening.

Treatment time: 1 hour

Cost: $500

Opalescence PF Custom Tray Whitening (for take-home)

Another professional teeth whitening kit but for home use, Opalescence PF teeth whitening gel is available in 5 different carbamide concentrations including 10%,15%,20%,35%, and 45%. The whitening gel is also a mixed ingredient of PF (potassium nitrate and fluoride). Additionally, it contains xylitol, which is a non-sugar sweetener that has anticaries properties. This product is similar to other Opalescence whitening systems which don’t rely on light kits such as LED device. Take-home Opalescence PF can be prescribed by your dentist as a follow-up for Opalescence Boost to whiten your teeth much comfortably and professionally at home.

Treatment time: Use daily for 10 days or when desired results are achieved. For per-use daily, check out the instructions. The higher the carbamide concentration, the less you apply in each time during the day.

Cost: $75 to $100

BriteSmile (for in-office)

Cosmetic dentists and dental specialists have long been using BriteSmile teeth whitening system due to comfortable and gentle whitening experience it provides. This professional kit uses hydrogen peroxide-based gel for maximum level of stain-removing process and elimination of yellowing on teeth. In addition, treatment with BriteSmile involves laser light-activated method for the purpose of whitening gel activation.

Treatment time. It takes 1-hour in-office treatment with 20-minute intervals.

Cost: varies from $500 to $600

Zoom Teeth Whitening (in-office and take-home kit)

Not only does Zoom teeth whitening is widely used by dentists for their in-office teeth whitening but also it is a highly popular take-home option. Treatment with Zoom whitening system involves applying of the powerful 25% hydrogen peroxide on teeth and then light activation with its Zoom Advanced Power Chairside Lamp. Zoom at-home whitening also features the light kit and the custom-fitted trays that you fit over your teeth. 

In-office treatment time. 45 minutes to 1 hour. In each session, your dentist applies the whitening gel for three 15-minutes accompanied by light activation of the gel.

Take-home treatment time. It usually requires 1 hour daily wearing of the tray on a scale of two-week period, but it can vary.  

Cost: $500

Frequently asked question (FAQ)

How many professional teeth whitening do I need?

Most people will see significant whitening effects even in just one visit. However, your dentist may schedule follow-up sessions after one week to complete the professional teeth whitening. Or, they can suggest at-home whitening kits in case you are not satisfied.

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