Jump to topic
Teeth whitening is an option to restore a bright and white smile. There is a wide range of whitening options in a variety of price ranges.
Teeth discoloration occurs for many different reasons. The most common is exposure to certain foods and drinks. The holes, bumps, and grooves in the teeth soak up color from food and beverages, which causes darkening, yellowing, and white spots. These are surface stains and are the easiest to treat with regular teeth whitening maintenance. The most common foods and beverages that cause surface stains on teeth include:
A variety of other things also affect the color of your teeth, including:
Luckily, there are many tools available to help you reduce the discoloration of your teeth. Both at-home and professional whitening treatments are available, but there is a significant difference in the cost and effectiveness of these products and services.
At-home OTC methods of tooth whitening make whitening easy and affordable for anyone. These methods of whitening require more effort on your part than visiting your dentist for a professional whitening treatment, but they cost a great deal less than a professional treatment.
Did you know dental insurance doesn't cover cosmetic procedures but dental discount plans do?
The most common OTC teeth whitening methods include:
You can buy whitening strips online or from a variety of different stores. They usually cost about $10 to $15 per package for several strips. You simply place the strip over your teeth and leave it there for as long as the package directs. They work well, but many people struggle to keep them on their teeth. Many people also experience increased sensitivity after using whitening strips.
This treatment is the best of both worlds. It is more intensive and takes longer than professional whitening treatment, but can be done in the comfort of your own home after your initial visit.
If you are using custom whitening trays, you’ll need to visit your dentist for an impression of your mouth. This is used to create custom trays that fit in your mouth perfectly. At home, you use the trays and bleaching agent to gradually whiten your teeth. This is an aggressive teeth whitening option that gives professional results with the ease and convenience of treating your teeth at home. The price for custom whitening trays ranges from about $100 to $600.
You can also use non-custom whitening trays. These are available for $10 to $30 and do not fit as snugly on your teeth.
Like many whitening options, at-home trays tend to make your teeth more sensitive. Desensitizing gels are available, so ask your dentist about this if you are concerned about pain.
This is the simplest of all whitening methods because it becomes a part of the daily routine you already follow. You’re probably already using whitening toothpaste. If not, there are plenty of great options on the market that are all very affordable. Most whitening toothpaste brands range in price from about $3 to $15, depending on the intensity of whitening the product offers.
Keep in mind, whitening toothpaste doesn’t change the natural color of your teeth or lighten deeper stains. They might contain abrasives to polish teeth and/or peroxide and other chemicals that dissolve stains.
This method is best when you only have light surface stains or when you want to maintain the color of your teeth after a more intensive whitening treatment. The most aggressive whitening toothpaste contains blue covarine, which is a chemical that adheres to teeth and makes them look less yellow, even though it doesn’t remove stains. You’ll see improvement in about two to six weeks using this type of toothpaste.
LED products are a new method of at-home whitening kits that have increased in popularity in recent years. LED whitening is non-invasive and uses an LED light to speed up the chemical lightening process. LED whitening products remove stubborn stains and strengthen your teeth and give you quick and easy whitening results.
Always make sure you follow the directions included with whitening toothpaste and all whitening products, and that you choose products endorsed by a dental organization, such as the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance.
Professional teeth whitening products and services are more expensive than at-home treatments. The average price for in-office whitening ranges from $450 to $1000 per treatment depending on the treatment and your location.
Some of the most popular professional whitening methods include:
Zoom Whitening whitens teeth significantly – up to 90% of their maximum brightness. It is an FDA-approved whitening method that takes one hour when done in a dentist’s office. Zoom also offers a home whitening option that is not as aggressive. You wear custom-designed trays filled with gel for several hours per day for up to 12 days in the comfort of your own home.
Professional Zoom treatments are easy and convenient and offer noticeable results. Like most whitening tools, Zoom treatments can cause tooth sensitivity for some.
Opalescence Xtra Boost is a minimally invasive method for treating discolored teeth. It works best on discoloration caused by prescription medications, tooth trauma, and other conditions. It also helps with surface stains.
Boost uses a 38 percent hydrogen peroxide power bleaching gel that requires no special light for activation. The gel is sticky, which means you don’t need to worry about it slipping off of your teeth once it’s applied. BOOST has a slightly lower risk of increasing sensitivity as other whitening products do because it contains something called PF. PF is a mix of potassium nitrate for reducing the risk of sensitivity and fluoride, which strengthens enamel and reduces the risk of cavities.
Kor is a popular teeth whitening option currently on the market. Kor restores oxygen in teeth, removing all of the stains and discoloration. It is especially effective for treating tetracycline-discolored teeth.
Kor’s initial treatment is done in a dentist’s office, while the follow-up treatments are done at home. After this phase is complete, you will wear the gel trays once a month to maintain the results.
Kor gets high ratings from dentists for its effectiveness, in part because the whitening trays fit so snugly on teeth. This reduces the risk of saliva diluting the whitening gel. Kor gel maintains its potency because it is refrigerated.
No. Whitening is considered a cosmetic dentistry procedure. This means its main purpose is to improve the appearance of your teeth and give you a whiter smile. It is not medically necessary. Like most treatments that are not medically necessary, the patient is responsible for the full cost.
However, some dental practices offer payment plans to make whitening procedures more affordable. There are also some credit options available for tooth whitening and other cosmetic procedures. You’ll still pay for the service out of pocket, but you can stretch your payments out over time. There may or may not be interest applied to your payments.