Safest Teeth Whiteners
The safest ways to whiten your teeth explained
In this article
Teeth whitening treatment is a convenient and affordable way to brighten your smile.
There are many whitening options available that vary in price:
|Cost||$262 to $1,180||$50 to $300||$10 to $50||$3 to $15||$2 to $10|
|Peroxide Level||20 to 40%||10 to 20%||5 to 15%||up to 5%||up to 2%|
|Time||2 hours per session||10 to 45 min per session||30 minutes per session||2 minutes a day||30 seconds a day|
|Upkeep||Every 6 months to a year||A few times a month||A few times a month||Daily or a few times a week||Daily or a few times a week|
|Sensitivity||Moderate risk, temporary||Moderate risk, temporary||Moderate risk, temporary||Low risk, temporary||Low risk, temporary|
Learn about the safest ways to whiten your teeth.
Tooth discoloration occurs for many different reasons. The most common is exposure to certain foods and drinks, but many other things can also affect tooth color.
Tooth stains can be either extrinsic (affecting tooth surfaces) or intrinsic (within the tooth itself).
Extrinsic stains, or surface stains, are the easiest to remove with bleaching.
These stains are often the result of exposure to certain foods, drinks, and tobacco products. The pits and grooves in teeth can soak up color from these substances. This causes brown and yellow spots over time.
The most common foods and beverages that cause surface stains include:
At-home kits and in-office treatments are usually effective at removing these kinds of stains.
Intrinsic stains are deeper than surface stains and are harder to get rid of. Rather than a colorful substance leaching into the enamel, these stains result from changes inside of the tooth.
Some causes of intrinsic stains include:
An injury to a tooth can also cause an extrinsic stain to become intrinsic, as colorful foods or other substances can pass through fractures in the enamel.
Unfortunately, these kinds of stains won’t always respond as well to whitening treatment. Dental restorations such as veneers, crowns, or dental bonding may be needed to provide a fully restored appearance.
Note that your teeth can also appear yellow due to worn enamel. Dentin, the layer of tissue beneath the enamel, is naturally yellow.
Whitening treatment won’t be effective for teeth with severely worn enamel. This is another situation where dental restorations may be a better option.
Luckily, many products are available that reduce tooth discoloration. This includes both at-home and professional whitening treatments.
However, there are significant differences in the cost and effectiveness of these products.
OTC methods make whitening easy and affordable for everyone.
These products require more effort than visiting a dentist for professional whitening treatment. But treatment costs hundreds less.
Keep in mind that OTC whitening requires more upkeep than professional whitening. The results also aren't instant and may not be as drastic as those achieved by in-office whitening.
The most common OTC teeth whitening products include:
You can buy whitening strips online or from various stores. They usually cost between $10 and $50 per package for several strips.
Simply place the strips over your teeth and leave them on for about 30 minutes.
Whitening strips typically work well. But some people struggle to keep them on their teeth. Many people also experience increased sensitivity after using whitening strips.
This is an aggressive option that provides professional-level results with the added convenience of whitening at home. Treatment takes longer than professional treatments like Zoom.
Custom whitening trays range from about $100 to $600.
To get custom whitening trays, you’ll need to visit your dentist for an impression. This is used to create custom trays that fit your mouth perfectly.
You'll use the trays and bleaching agent to gradually whiten your teeth.
You can also use non-custom whitening trays. These are available for $10 to $30 and don't fit as snugly over your teeth. The downside of non-custom trays is uneven whitening and messier application.
Like many whitening options, at-home trays tend to make your teeth more sensitive. Fortunately, desensitizing gels are available. Ask your dentist about this if you're concerned about pain.
This is the simplest of all whitening methods. Whitening toothpastes contain low levels of peroxide or abrasives and are typically used once or twice a day.
Peroxide dissolves stains, and gentle abrasives can polish teeth. However, whitening toothpastes won’t change the natural color of your teeth or lighten deeper stains.
You may already be using whitening toothpaste. If not, there are plenty of affordable options on the market.
Most whitening toothpastes cost between $3 and $15, depending on the brand and whitening intensity.
This method is best if you have light surface stains or want to maintain your tooth color after a more intensive whitening treatment.
The most aggressive whitening toothpastes contain blue covarine. This chemical adheres to teeth and makes them look less yellow without removing stains.
You’ll see improvements in about 2 to 6 weeks after using a whitening toothpaste daily.
LED whitening kits are a new method of at-home whitening. These kits have increased in popularity in recent years. They cost between $50 and $300.
This method is non-invasive and uses an LED light to speed up the whitening process.
LED whitening products remove stubborn stains. They also provide quick and effective whitening results.
During the LED whitening process, the teeth are first painted with a bleaching agent (usually peroxide-based). Then, the LED light activates the whitening agent and starts the chemical reaction.
When this interaction occurs, the blue LED light penetrates the enamel and lifts existing stains.
LED lights are highly efficient. They don't have a warm-up time and switch on at their highest intensity.
Professional teeth whitening products are more expensive than at-home treatments. The average price for in-office whitening ranges from $262 to $1,180 per treatment.
Some popular professional whitening methods include:
Zoom Whitening whitens teeth significantly – up to 90% of their maximum brightness. It's an FDA-approved whitening method that takes 1 hour in a dentist’s office.
Zoom also offers a less aggressive home whitening option. You'll wear custom trays filled with gel for several hours a day for up to 12 days. Treatment is completed in the comfort of your own home.
Professional Zoom treatments are easy, convenient, and provide instant results. Like most whitening methods, Zoom can cause tooth sensitivity.
The average cost of Zoom teeth whitening is between $300 and $600.
Opalescence Xtra Boost is a minimally invasive method for treating discolored teeth.
The gel works best on discoloration caused by prescription medications, tooth trauma, and other conditions. It also helps lift surface stains.
Boost uses a 38 percent hydrogen peroxide power bleaching gel that requires no special light for activation.
The gel is sticky, so you don’t need to worry about it slipping off your teeth once it’s applied.
BOOST has a slightly lower risk of sensitivity because it contains PF. This is a mixture of potassium nitrate and fluoride.
Opalescence is cheaper than Zoom (around $500 per treatment).
Kor restores oxygen in teeth, removing all stains and discoloration. It's especially effective for treating tetracycline-discolored teeth.
Kor’s initial treatment is done in a dentist’s office. The follow-up treatments are done at home. After completing this phase, you'll wear the trays monthly to maintain results.
Kor gets high ratings from dentists for its effectiveness, partly because the whitening trays fit snugly over teeth. This reduces the risk of saliva diluting the whitening gel. The gel is also refrigerated to maintain its potency.
KöR is slightly cheaper than Zoom. Treatment costs between $500 and $1,000.
See NewMouth’s top 10 teeth whitening products of 2022.
No. Whitening is considered a cosmetic treatment. This means its main purpose is to improve the appearance of teeth. It's 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 whitening and other cosmetic procedures.
You’ll still pay for the services out of pocket — but you can stretch the payments out over time. Interest may or may not be applied.
Here are a few (more expensive) teeth whitening alternatives:
A veneer is a thin, tooth-colored shell that fits over the front of your tooth. The shell can change the tooth's color, shape, and size.
Veneers fix many cosmetic issues but can't repair damaged teeth.
The most common veneer materials include porcelain and composite. Porcelain veneers are the strongest and most natural-looking option.
Veneers are much more expensive than teeth whitening treatments. They cost anywhere between $659 and $1,618 per tooth. Although pricey, the results can last up to 25 years.
Dental bonding solves minor damage or gaps between teeth. It's usually used to fix dental issues such as tooth chips, fractures, or gaps.
Similar to teeth whitening treatment, bonding can improve tooth discoloration.
Dental bonding procedures cost around $300 to $600 per tooth (without insurance).
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