Teeth Whitening

Updated on February 21, 2024

Types of Teeth Whitening Treatments

Elena Borrelli
Written by 
Alyssa Hill
Medically Reviewed by Elena Borrelli
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Teeth whitening is a popular and conservative cosmetic treatment that lightens discolored teeth. Most whitening products contain peroxide, a highly studied chemical that has been shown to lighten teeth quickly and safely. 

In-Office Options (Professional) 

Professional, in-office teeth whitening treatments take about 30 minutes. They can make your teeth two-three shades lighter in one visit. These treatments are highly effective but can cost hundreds of dollars per session.

Laser Teeth Whitening

Common in-office whitening treatments include: 

  • 1-hour ZOOM
  • Kor whitening

At-Home Options

At-home options are less expensive than professional whitening treatments. They require more upkeep but are effective with proper, consistent use. 

person applying whitestrips

Common at-home whitening treatments include:

  • Take-home trays and gels from a dentist
  • Whitening strips
  • Whitening toothpaste and mouthwash
  • LED whitening kits
  • Whitening pens
  • Peroxide-free whitening options

What Causes Tooth Discoloration?

There are two types of tooth discoloration: extrinsic and intrinsic.

Extrinsic stains are superficial surface stains that you naturally pick up over time. These stains are commonly caused by dark-colored foods like coffee, tea, red wine, berries, and curry. Tobacco products can also cause extrinsic stains.

Intrinsic stains develop on the inner layer of teeth (dentin). These stains are more difficult to remove than shallow, extrinsic stains. Intrinsic discoloration is caused by natural aging, excessive fluoride exposure, and certain medications.

The primary causes of tooth discoloration include:

  • Genetics
  • Some cancer treatments
  • Natural aging
  • Amalgam (silver) dental restorations
  • Certain medications, specifically tetracycline, antihistamines, antipsychotics, and high blood pressure medications
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco 
  • Dark-colored foods and drinks like coffee, tea, wine, and berries
  • Excessive fluoride use

Frequently Asked Questions

How do LED teeth whitening lights work?

LED lights alone do not make teeth whiter. However, they accelerate the bleaching agent (typically peroxide), potentially speeding up the whitening process.

What is the most effective way to whiten teeth?

Professional teeth whitening treatments are the most effective ways to whiten teeth. They take under an hour and result in drastically whiter teeth. Upkeep is also minimal (a few times a year or less). Take-home trays from a dentist and LED whitening kits are also good options.

Do teeth whitening strips work?

Teeth whitening strips containing hydrogen or carbamide peroxide safely and effectively whiten teeth. You’ll need to use whitening strips often to keep your teeth bright.

What is the best whitening treatment for sensitive teeth?

Some at-home whitening products are designed to prevent and reduce sensitivity. This makes it possible for anyone to whiten their teeth. Hismile is a great peroxide-free option.

Can you prevent tooth discoloration?

Some of the best ways to prevent teeth stains include brushing twice a day, using peroxide whitening products, and reducing your intake of staining drinks like coffee and tea.

Key Terms

How Does LED Teeth Whitening Work?

What is Professional Teeth Whitening?

How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost?

What is Laser Teeth Whitening?

How Does LED Teeth Whitening Work?

LED light works with a tooth-whitening agent to whiten teeth by activating the whitening agent and starting a chemical reaction.
Learn More:
LED Teeth Whitening

What is Professional Teeth Whitening?

Professional teeth whitening, also called in-office whitening, is the fastest and safest way to whiten your teeth. Although effective, professional whitening is expensive. But the results can last for many months.
Learn More:
Professional Teeth Whitening

How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost?

Teeth whitening treatment is a convenient way to brighten your smile. There are many options available that vary in price.
Learn More:
Teeth Whitening Costs

What is Laser Teeth Whitening?

Laser teeth whitening involves placing a concentrated whitening gel on the teeth and using a laser to heat it, which whitens teeth quickly and safely.
Learn More:
Laser Teeth Whitening: How It Works & Costs
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