All Things Whitening

The yellowing of teeth is a natural process. Grinding, chewing and chomping, along with pigments being lodged into your teeth from coffee, tea, soda, or red wine, create that yellow-ish brown tint over time that has made teeth whitening one of the most popular cosmetic dental procedures in the United States.

Before deciding what form of whitening is right for you, you should see your dentist for an evaluation. If you have any tooth decay, cavities or root or gum recession, it needs to be resolved before performing any whitening treatments. Sometimes correcting these issues can already improve the color and appearance of teeth.

There are a variety of options for teeth whitening, and before jumping into any of them you should consider all the options as well as their peroxide concentrations and cost.

Whitening toothpastes

Supermarkets and pharmacies offer whitening pastes for less than $10 a tube. What determines each variety's effectiveness is the active ingredient - only some contain peroxide, and those that do have relatively low concentrations (1 to 2 percent). This will remove surface stains but aren't strong enough to actually make tooth shades whiter. They will be more effective at maintaining the shine after undergoing a stronger whitening treatment.

Over-the-counter products

The best known over-the-counter whiteners are strips that adhere directly to teeth and gel-filled trays. Both fall anywhere between 15 and 50 dollars. The bleaching agent in these products may cause irritation or blotching when coming in contact with lips or gums. To prevent this from happening, manufacturers keep the peroxide concentrations low, which means the results are slow and modest. These are best for someone attending a big event in a week, or perhaps just need a touch up here and there.

In-office whitening

You will get the most dramatic improvement in the shortest time when whitening at your dentist's office. The only downside is cost - usually ranging from $500 to $1,000. Zoom! whitening uses a high-intensity light that activates the highly concentrated peroxide solution and makes the process much faster. With minimal follow-up care at home, in-office bleaching can last for up to five years. The first few days after your treatment, however, you should avoid foods that stain and stick to a white diet of fish, rice, chicken and water.

At-home whitening

If you are looking for results similar to those you get in the dentist's office at a lower price, you can turn to a dentist-supervised treatment to do at home. Patients get a custom-fitted tray and whitening gel that is around one-third as strong as solutions used in offices. Many need to be worn once to twice a day, an hour each time, for two weeks. These cost between $200 and $400, and may give equally successful results as in-office treatment. Users of these kits need to avoid dark substances like dark soda, coffee and tobacco. This form of treatment may lead to tooth sensitivity.


Bonding is made of a pliable composite resin that hardens in place, and is a good solution if you wish to whiten a single tooth. The bonding blends into the natural structure of your tooth. It costs between $300 and $600, and is sometimes covered by insurance. However, just like your teeth can stain, so can the bonding material.


Extreme cases of discoloration may warrant veneers instead of alternate whitening treatments. Made from porcelain and directly applied to the surface of the teeth, veneers are designed to imitate the bright white enamel and shape of healthy teeth. They can cost anywhere from around $700 to $2,000 a tooth, but they last for decades with very little upkeep, since they stay white forever.

If you have questions about your whitening options and which may be best for you, schedule a visit with us - we are here to help.




Courtesy of US News

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