What are OTC tooth whiteners?

OTC, or over-the-counter, tooth whiteners are whitening options that do not require the assistance of your dentist. OTC tooth whiteners do not always give the same results as whitening procedures you get from your dentist. This is because they use lower concentrations of peroxide to remove stains from your teeth. Your whitening treatment might involve trays, gels, strips, toothpaste, tooth floss, or mouthwash. Many times an OTC tooth whitener is considerably less expensive than tooth whitening you would receive from your dentist.
OTC, or over-the-counter, tooth whiteners are non-prescription products that can help whiten your teeth. Most whiteners contain a mild solution of peroxide, which bleaches teeth. Tooth whiteners usually come in a gel that's applied to a tooth tray, which you insert in your mouth, or a strip that you attach to your teeth. OTC tooth whiteners need to be used daily for several weeks. The results will depend on the product and how closely you stick with the regimen. Whitening toothpaste is available as well, though it primarily removes food stains and does not change tooth color.
The strips or chemical version of whiteners are usually some form of carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. In order for them to work, there must be sufficient contact time (and it must be able to get to all the surfaces you want whitened).

The other form of whiteners are in toothpastes. in many cases, these tooth pastes are more abrasive in order to remove stains. While they may fall in the "safe" range of abrasiveness, it may not be wise to use them long term (to avoid wearing away enamel or dentin).

Continue Learning about Teeth Whitening

Teeth Whitening Tips and Secrets
Teeth Whitening Tips and Secrets
Do you want a dazzling, movie-star smile but you're not sure how to go about getting it? Are you curious to know how over-the-counter (OTC) teeth-whit...
Read More
What should I know about tooth bleaching?
Dan JenkinsDan Jenkins
You should know whether you have any cavities or exposed nerves on your roots -- the bleaching could...
More Answers
Should I get professional tooth whitening or over-the-counter treatments?
American Dental AssociationAmerican Dental Association
Everyone wants a whiter smile. Watch as Dr. Maria Lopez Howell explains why you should always consul...
More Answers
Are There Natural Ways to Whiten My Teeth?
Are There Natural Ways to Whiten My Teeth?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.