Common foods and drinks, such as coffee, red wine, berries, and tomato sauce, will stain your teeth. Over time, your teeth loose their brightness and you see a yellowish tinge to your smile. As you age, daily wear and tear creates etchings on the tooth surface which make teeth more susceptible to stains than you were at a younger age. The simplest solution is to only eat white foods and drink clear drinks. This isn’t realistic of course! So, you may have considered using a teeth whitener. A form of peroxide is used to oxidize or eat away at the tooth’s color particles to brighten a smile. Whitening products bought over the counter at your drug store or beauty store will contain 3% to 10% of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide to start you on the path to whiter teeth. These products may range from a pen or strips for $20 and up. Or trays with gel for up to $100. For some people, this is all you need. But, for others, this strength just isn’t strong enough to remove the stains that are deep set.
The next strongest solution to use is a bleaching product purchased from your dentist. The active ingredient is the same, but at a higher strength of 15% up to 35%. These products also often contain an added ingredient, fluoride, to reduce sensitivity in the teeth during use. An easy to use bleaching pen will usually run you $25 for two or three applications. Or, one of the most effective products is the custom-made trays that hold your bleaching gel in place, close to the teeth, so less of the peroxide contacts the gums or is swallowed. This custom fit is going to cost between $199 to $400, but the bulk of the cost is for the trays. You can generally get extra, or refill gel for $10 for three or four applications.
Still, some people don’t get the results they want. For anyone wanting instant results, or wanting to be whiter than what they have achieved with at-home products, an in-office treatment by your dentist. Typically completed in an hour to 90-minutes, the results are instant with nothing for you to do at home. These instant results will cost you anywhere from $300 to $1000. If you’re shopping for the cheapest in-office service, the then you’ll want to be sure that the dentist will be taking steps to reduce sensitivity and protect your gums, steps which are sometimes skipped with a discounted whitening service.
Whiter teeth are attractive, but keep expectations in check. Remember that there is a finite color change you can achieve. Two or three shades whiter than your current color is a reasonable expectation. Be sure to follow instructions, both for at-home products, and in-office treatments.