The costs of tooth whitening can vary widely, according to who performs it (do-it-yourself vs. professional), the time required to achieve best results (one hour vs. several weeks), the methods used (toothpaste vs LASER), and also the condition of the teeth themselves as well as lifestyle choices. it goes without saying, tooth whitening could be an uphill battle for triple espresso lovers!

Laser whitening and light-activated bleaching sit at the top end of the scale, both which can cost upwards of $1,000 or more, but the results are almost instantaneous, create a more dramatic change in appearance, and can last a much longer time than other methods. Alternatively, there are also less pricey toothpastes, gels, and other bleaching products which can wipe away superficial stains, and many are available as off-the-counter products at your local retailer. There are two categories of whitening methods, with or without bleaches:

1. Bleach-FREE procedures get rid of surface stains by acting with chemical or physical means to lift away surface stains. This also includes the annual cleaning by your hygienist or dentist, in which they abrade and polish your teeth to get rid of the top-level stains typically caused by tobacco use & intense foods. Virtually any toothpaste available uses mild abrasion as well to keep your teeth bright between visits to the dentist. Specially-formulated whitening toothpastes utilize a chemical or polishing agent which can provide an additional degree of stain removal.

2. Bleaching procedures alter the natural color of your teeth, typically as much as five or even seven shades brighter than before! Carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide is the active “bleaching” agent, usually in concentrations from 10% to 22%, which will get into the surface enamel to remove all but the most deep, stubborn stains. Whether you opt for chairside whitening (in-office), or tray whitening (at home), keep in mind that both rely on bleaching. Herein lies the significant cost differences between the two classes:

  • Those products you might find at your local pharmacy include: whitening strips, boil and bite trays, and brush-on whitening gels, from prices ranging from as little as $10.00 to about $45.00.
  • Custom-fitted mouth devices created by your dentist for in-home bleaching will run approximately $300, and you typically wear it for several hours during the day or overnight for a couple of weeks. Any new staining which is noticed can be lifted by just another session of wearing the mouthpiece for a night or two.
  • The specialized light-activated whitening session in a dentist’s office, oftentimes referred to as “chairside” bleaching, will cost $500 or more, but offers instant results in instantly brighter, whiter teeth. The effect is also the most durable – however, your teeth will become stained again after 12 to 18 months of a normal eating and drinking routine (tea, sauces, coffee). You’ll have to schedule an appointment and pay the $500 each time to restore the brilliant whitening effect again.

Reactions to different whitening techniques vary from one individual to the next. Severe discoloration such as from long-term tobacco use, or certain medicines may cause staining that cannot be removed effectively. Such situation may require structural cosmetic improvements such as bonding or different types of veneers to restore a whiter, brighter smile. Many others do quite well with whitening toothpastes, and will be pleased with the results. Contact your friendly professional dentist or hygienist for a consult and determine the best solution for you.

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