Is Home Teeth Whitening the Best Bleaching Choice for You?

A positive first impression is important in life. A nice smile and white teeth make a first impression that can last a lifetime. It is no secret that teeth lose their whiteness as we age, and that can make for a bad impression. Hollywood celebrities know this and that's why... Read More

The Difference in Teeth Whitening Kits

You can buy teeth whitening kits for less than $20 or you can spend as much as $400.  So, what’s the difference?  Here’s a look at the subject.

The least expensive option is the disposable variety.  They are provided by pharmaceutical companies and can be purchased in drugstores or over the internet.  They contain a low concentration of a hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening gel in a “one size fits all” tray.  Generally, they are left in place for 45 minutes and are used once a day for two days in a row. 

What results will you see?

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Dentists measure results using a shading guide.  For example, the VITAPAN shade guide allows you to judge what shade you currently have.  If your current shade is around a six or seven, you can expect to whiten as much as 3-6 shades, possible bringing the color down to a one on the whiteness scale.

If your current shade is very dark, higher than a six or seven, you might want to consider a more expensive option.  You would need to purchase a dental tray, either one that is warmed and pressed to fit up against your teeth or a custom-made tray from your dentist. 

The teeth whitening trays are reusable.  So, when staining becomes a problem again, typically in 6 months to two years, you would not need to buy complete teeth whitening kits, but just the gel.  The cost for a custom-made tray varies.  A heat to form tray usually costs less than $20, but many people find them difficult to use.  If you can afford a custom made variety, it is the best choice.  It can even be worn overnight to fade deep stains.
Over-the-counter teeth whitening gels contain carbamide peroxide, which is not as effective as hydrogen peroxide, but is sometimes less irritating to the gums.  A 35% concentration is considered a maximum strength product.  The cost ranges from $35-$100, depending on the manufacturer and the retailer.

Dentist provided teeth whitening kits usually include both the mouthpiece and the gelatin.  The bleaching agent preferred by most dentists is hydrogen peroxide.  The concentrations that they recommend range from 9-40%.  A 35% hydrogen peroxide concentration would be three times as effective as an equivalent concentration of carbamide peroxide.

You would have to check with your dentist concerning the cost of these home teeth whitening kits, but you can expect to pay at least $100.  Teeth whitening kits are not covered by dental insurance, but if you want a really white smile, it’s worth the price.