What Are the Different Methods for Tooth Whitening and Bleaching?

Home 9 Cosmetic Dentistry 9 What Are the Different Methods for Tooth Whitening and Bleaching?

The decision to pick the right product and service to whiten your teeth is a confusing one. There are many products on the market from different brands with different promises and various price points. In this post, we go over major products in the market and try to describe the benefits of each to make it a bit easier for you to choose what’s right for your particular case.

Here are the tooth whitening/bleaching products that we cover in this post:

  • Over-the-counter
  • Express whitening
  • Zoom/Laser whitening
    • QuickPro
    • Whitespeed
    • Ultimate
  • KoR whitening
    • Max
    • Ultra
    • UltraT

Over-the-counter (OTC):
This is the whitening strips or the OTC pens that you can buy from your local drugstore. You don’t need a prescription to buy it and you can apply it yourself without any professional help. The mechanism that it uses to whiten your teeth is to use peroxide (or other chemicals) in low concentration with active ingredients that penetrate into the tooth beyond the surface to get rid of the discoloration.

OTC whitenings can work on lightly stained teeth but they need dedication! You need to stick to it for a couple of weeks before you see results (that’s why many patients don’t see any results). And the reason that it needs that long of a time/exposure, is because of the low concentration of the peroxide/whitening agent that needs more time to be effective.

Express whitening:
This is the simplest and most affordable professionally offered whitening solution. It actually works differently than OTC. After polishing the stains off of your teeth with pumice, whitening gel is painted on the teeth or an already loaded tray is worn by patient, and light is shawn on them for 20-30 minutes (the whitening molecules are activated with the light).
This procedure has to be done by a dental professional and only works on the extrinsic/external/superficial stains. The good thing about this procedure is that you can do it in a single session in dental office without having to do much at home (even though some offices (like Soothing Dental) offer you a whitening pen to use at home for maintenance). This procedure is also the most affordable professional whitening solution but it only work on light stains.

Zoom (aka Laser whitening/bleaching):

Zoom whitening has been around for a while. The system includes a gel that’s painted on the teeth after isolating the gums with what’s called a rubber dam (this concentration of whitening material can in fact hurt the gums if they’re not isolated). Zoom light/laser is then shawn on the teeth for 4×15 min sessions. The whitening molecules are light-activated in a sense; and this is known by many as laser whitening. Historically, there has been reports of sensitivity associated with Zoom however, particularly in patients who already have sensitivity.There are methods/protocols in place at this point which help with priming/preparing the teeth to reduce potential sensitivity for patients, such as starting with toothpastes for sensitive teeth and utilizing desensitizing agents after the whitening session. And they definitely have been helpful. And we have had many patients who have completed the Zoom treatment without any issues. Furthermore, Zoom has started offering various options for whitening depending on the severity of the stains and any sensitivity history. The major options are QuickPro, WhiteSpeed and Ultimate.


KoR has been a front runner in the realm of deep stains as well as sensitive teeth whitening. The difference between KoR and Zoom has to do with a few points: KoR has no preservative for the whitening agents in its gel. The components are kept separately and completely cooled form the time of manufacturing until the delivery to the patient’s mouth which keeps its whitening agents in check until needed. And due to the same reason, KoR does not need any light activation for its whitening agents as they start working as soon as they’re mixed and painted on the teeth. The promise is that since there is no light involved, nerve of the tooth is not irritated even if exposure to the whitening gel is done for a few weeks (like its night whitening with KoR Ultra and KoR UltraT).

As for the in office visit, typically it takes about 1.5 hours. Another factor with KoR is that the take-home whitening trays are fabricated in a particular fashion so that there is no cross-contamination between saliva and whitening product through its borders, as saliva deactivates the whitening molecules within 20-30 minutes otherwise.

As you may have guessed, these products have overlapping use-cases. Historically, Zoom created its products (and so did KoR) that were built for different patients with different needs. However, after a while these two companies created other products (as described above) that actually compete with one another. In Soothing Dental San Francisco we offer the highest quality dental whitening through Express whitening, Zoom/laser whitening (Whitepseed) and KoR whitening (Max and Ultra). The following table demonstrates the benefit of each method. You can pick the one that matches your criteria and make an appointment to get it done. The main thing is to have proper expectations for any treatment that you go with. Feel free to contact us at appt@soothing.dental if you need more information on tooth whitening.


  Express Zoom Whitespeed Kor Max Kor Ultra
Strength Low Medium Medium-High High
Office time 30 minutes 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours
Home work Maintenance Maintenance 2 weeks 3-4 weeks
Sensitivity potential Low Low-Medium Low Low