All of us want a clean, bright smile. If our teeth are not their best, it can affect our self-confidence, our self-esteem, and even our social life. Teeth whitening is a key process in quickly improving your smile, and there are even many teeth whitening products available to order online. In the past, you typically had to go to a dentist’s office to be fitted for whitening trays – but nowadays whitening your teeth is much easier. Studies have shown that white teeth are a key sign of attractiveness (this is especially true in the dating world). So why not be your best possible self, especially when the solution is so easy? These days, teeth whitening is so popular, that it has created a an entirely new market from scratch, just over the last 10-15 years. For many people, teeth whitening is a very effective way to get the smile they have always wanted. Teeth whitening has also become extremely popular because it fits in any budget, and appeals to both men and women. Quite simply – everyone would like whiter teeth! And the good news? Teeth whitening works. Almost everyone who opts for some kind of teeth whitening, sees results. The only real downside to whitening, is that it does not offer a permanent solution – it does require monthly or semi-monthly upkeep.
How Teeth Whitening Works
So at this point you are probably wondering – how exactly does teeth whitening work? All whitening works in one of two ways – either bleaching procedures, or non-bleaching procedures. There are key differences between these procedures, however.
Bleaching procedures over some advantages over non-bleaching procedures. For starters, bleaching removes deep stains – not just surface stains. This means that bleaching is by far a more comprehensive solution, if you are looking for the deepest teeth whitening experience. Bleaching usually makes a drastic difference, in terms of overall tooth color. Bleaching actually changes your natural tooth color itself, resulting in 6 or more shades of improvement, in terms of brightness. If this sounds like a big difference – it is. Bleaching can be done at home or in an office. Bleaching is largely so effective because there are large amounts of active ingredients, usually hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Typically there is a 15% concentration of these ingredients (or even greater). This is what provides the drastic cosmetic results.
In a dentist’s office, bleaching procedures are typically light-activated, and are sometimes called chairside bleaching. Typically this costs $500 or more, and it must be done once a year, to maintain good results. Tooth discoloration can happen from foods consumed, coffee, soda, salt – or just general wear and tear. There are sometimes other costs involved in bleaching procedures done in a dentist’s office, such as purchasing a custom mouthpiece. This mouthpiece typically ranges in price from $200-300, and is usually worn while sleeping, for two weeks. The advantage here, is that you can fix new stains quickly and easily, by just wearing the mouthpiece for a night or two.
There are also many different over-the-counter products for teeth whitening. These range from whitening gels, to teeth whitening strips, to tray applications. These are some of our favorite over-the-counter teeth whitening products.
Non-bleaching procedures are far less comprehensive, and essentially only remove surface stains. These procedures rely largely on chemical reactions, and the same effect is seen in many toothpastes. There are even specialty teeth whitening toothpastes, which contain chemical agents to remove even more stains. This is similar to a professional cleaning in a dentist’s office, as far as the actual process involved.
How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost?
There are many options for teeth whitening, and cost is a common concern. There are varying tiers of cost, and what it comes down to is basically the quickness and level of whiteness desired. A professional, in-office whitening will be far more drastic and effective, compared to any over-the-counter products. However, there is a significant cost difference.
Whitening In An Office
Peroxide gel is mainly used in these procedures, and a technician or dentist will apply this directly to your teeth (after protecting your gums). This can be done for up to an hour, and typically costs $500 or more.
Take-Home Kits (From A Dentist)
These kits are different than over-the-counter products, and they are essentially lower concentration gels (typically peroxide). The use can range for a few hours, to completely overnight. You will also need custom-fitted mouth guards, bringing the total cost to anywhere from $90 to $420.
Over-The-Counter Teeth Whitening Products
This is by far the most cost-effective option. Consumer kits can be purchased at any drug store or grocery store. The trick here, is that the whitening gel must be re-applied fairly often. Because the concentration of bleach is far lower, it also takes much longer to see the same results you would see, from just going in once, for a whitening in a dentist’s office. Another issue with over-the-counter whitening products, is that they are typically done by one-size-fits-all strips, or trays. This can commonly lead to increased whiteness in only a few front teeth – not the whole mouth. However, for the average consumer, over-the-counter teeth whitening products are a very good solution. They are cost-effective, convenient, and do not require a trip to the dentist. The cost of over-the-counter teeth whitening products can be as low as $20, or as high as $100.
What Causes Tooth Staining?
Tooth staining is caused by a wide variety of things: diet soda, coffee, regular soda, wine, sugar, candy, smoking – and even salt. This type of staining is called extrinsic staining, and is what most people think of, when they think of teeth needing to be whitened. This type of stain is simply discoloration on your enamel (the outer and most visible layer of your teeth).
What most people do not realize however, is that teeth can also be stained on the inside (intrinsic stains). Intrinsic stains occur when the inner structure (dentin) becomes tinted in a yellow hue. This is much rarer, but can be caused by multiple issues, such as too much exposure to fluoride while young, internal bleeding caused by trauma to a tooth, or dentinogenesis imperfecta.
Carbamide Peroxide vs. Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is the typical whitening agent used for in-office cleanings, as it is very powerful and very fast. For teeth whitening, a concentration of 10-35% is typically used.
At home, most kits and strips do not use hydrogen peroxide, and instead opt for carbamide peroxide. This peroxide offers about 25% of the strength of the more-standard hydrogen peroxide, and is slower to take effect. Interestingly, once it is on your teeth, carbamide peroxide breaks down into hydrogen peroxide.
Drawbacks To Teeth Whitening
Teeth whitening is generally very safe, but there are certain risks associated with whitening your teeth, especially if you are going to perform the whitening yourself at home. However, there are still even possible issues that can occur when bleaching your teeth in a dentist’s office (though this is rare).
The main potential issues involved with teeth whitening are sensitivity, and possible gum irritation. In a dentist’s office, the main issues can occur due to high-concentration bleach, which can cause pain in their front teeth. Some people are also at a greater risk of developing sensitivity in this area. If there is previous gum recession, leakage from restorations, or cracks in teeth, there is a greater risk of developing sensitivity from teeth whitening.
If you experience sensitivity from teeth whitening, you will be relieved to know that it usually lasts no longer than a day or two. A toothpaste containing potassium nitrate is also often recommended by dentists, in this situation.
Best Teeth Whitening Products
There are a wide variety of teeth whitening products, and they usually come in the form of strips or trays. While it may seem like there is not much difference between over-the-counter teeth whitening products, this could not be further from the truth. There is a wide scope of products that offer low quality results, and just as many products that offer great results.
The AuraGlow LED light kit is one of our favorite options, and it is also very fairly priced. They are 35% carbamide peroxide, and will stay put after you apply them.
A very popular teeth whitening option is Crest 3D. They offer a very competitive price, and offer near-professional levels of whitening. Like a professional cleaning, these strips will remove a large amount of stains, in a very short timeframe.
The Rembrandt Deeply White 2-Hour Teeth Whitening Kit is a great, cost-effective option for at-home teeth whitening. With a price that most consumers will love, and almost professional-grade results, this kit is a great choice for just about anyone.