Is Home Teeth Whitening the Best Bleaching Choice for You?

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A Look at the Different Teeth Whitening Methods For Bleaching Stains From Your Smile

There are a number of different teeth whitening methods on the market today, ranging in price from $20 or less to $650 or more.  Treatments are available to satisfy anyone’s budget, time frame and temperament. 

For people that hate going to the dentist, there are effective over the counter solutions.  For people that value their time, there are overnight systems that work as well.  Here’s a look at some of the different products that are available and how well they are likely to work.

First, it is important to note that nothing can bleach or whiten crowns or veneers and it is important to have an evaluation to ensure that what you are seeing is staining, not decay.  But, if you see your dentist regularly, then you should be able to safely try some of the retail products before you consult your dentist.

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The toothpastes that are supposed to whiten are cleansers only.  They do not contain a teeth bleaching agent.  They will work against some light stains, especially those that are caused by debris in micro-cracks that occur as we age.

One of the teeth whitening methods that does contain a bleaching agent are “whitening strips”.  They don’t work on the darkest stains, but they do whiten slightly.  People can expect to see an improvement of 2-4 shades.  Your dentist can show you a “shade guide” to help you see what that means.  The results seen from the strips typically last, for 6-8 weeks.  They are used on a regular basis for one to two weeks, until the desired results are achieved.  The cost is around $25.

The tray gel is one of the at-home teeth whitening methods that works a little better than the strips, but like the in-office treatments, they make the gums and teeth more sensitive, at least for a few days after each treatment.  The gel will lighten 3-6 shades and works on some darker stains.  The average cost is $15-$50.

The paint-on products work only a little better than the cleansing toothpastes.  The effect lasts for a couple of months and the cost is often more than the tray gel.  So, of the at-home treatments, the tray gels are the best bet. 

If you see your dentist, he can provide you with a take home gel that costs between $100 and $500. Dental insurance does not cover this cosmetic procedure, even when it is performed in the office.  But, the most effective teeth whitening methods are those that your dentist performs, especially if you have very dark stains.  The average cost of professional lazer whitening is $650 per visit.