A brighter, whiter smile is highly sought after by many people, but finding the right teeth whitening solution can be a bit of a problem. You have two options: getting your teeth whitened by a dentist or trying to do it at home. Both options use a peroxide-based bleaching agent, with at-home options generally having a lower concentration at 3% to 10% peroxide, and in-office systems contain 15% to 43% peroxide. As a general rule, the longer you keep a stronger solution on your teeth, the brighter your teeth become. However, when you have a higher percentage of peroxide in the whitening solution, the shorter it should be applied to the teeth. If the gel is kept on longer, the tooth can dehydrate and increase its sensitivity.
At-home whitening vs teeth whitening at the dentistWhen you get your teeth whitened by a dentist, you can see results much faster. The bleach solution is much stronger than at-home kits could be. A dentist can also use heat and light in combination to speed and intensify the whitening process. You can expect dramatic results, with teeth getting three to eight shades brighter, but this may require several 30 to 60 minutes visits, but some dentists can complete the procedure in a single 2-hour appointment. At home, you can use tooth whitening strips, gels, and toothpaste. Each of these options offers a convenient way for you to bleach your teeth on your own. But you should be careful as incorrectly used home kits can lead to burned or temporarily bleached gums. You should also consider if you can incorporate something like a tray-based tooth bleaching system, which can range between $150 to $600 to get a custom-fitted one. These trays are filled with a peroxide bleaching gel and they are placed over the teeth for several hours a day for up to four weeks. Be sure that you have the time and willpower to commit to faithfully using the tray for the treatment to work.
How much does teeth whitening cost?The cost can vary but generally ranges from $500 to $1000. This may seem like a lot of money, especially when compared to at-home solutions which can be as cheap as a tube of whitening toothpaste, but the effect is stronger and the results last longer. At-home kits can often run much cheaper, varying from $3-$5 for tooth whitening toothpaste, to $10 to $55 for tooth whitening strips and gels. Keep in mind that these require a much longer commitment of many weeks to see a result. And that result is often weaker than in-office treatments. You might also be able to get some or part of the treatment covered by your insurance. Be sure to check with your insurance company, especially if the discoloration is due to a dead nerve, or due to tooth trauma, infection, or illness. If so, this kind of discoloration is likely going to need professional help to make it white again.
Is teeth whitening permanent?Teeth whitening can often last a very long time, but it is not permanent. There are things you can do to maintain the results. Keep your teeth bright and white by maintaining good oral health by brushing, flossing, and rinsing daily. Avoid acidic and tannin-rich foods and drinks like:
- Black teas and coffee
- White and red wine
- Sports drinks
- Carbonated beverages no matter the color
- Berries and other strongly-colored foods