With so many teeth whitening options on the market, you may be wondering which ones actually do what you pay for them to do. Americans spend about $1.4 billion on teeth whitening cosmetic dental treatments and products every year, but not all of them work as advertised. Here are the top three options so you can avoid the ones that don’t work:
3. Whitening Strips: $20 to $45 per box
Whitening strips are fairly cheap and might become even cheaper if Procter and Gamble loses its patent in its upcoming lawsuit against generic whitestrip provider Clio. You can find them in most pharmacies and buy them over-the-counter or order them online. The low cost of whitening teeth at home makes these a favorite among many teeth whitening patients.
The freshness of your whitestrips makes a difference, so pay close attention to the expiration date, especially if you’re shopping online.
Many people end up abandoning white strips since the effects aren’t as instant as other treatments and can be inconvenient to wear. Since they’re not custom fitted to your teeth, it’s often more difficult to keep them in place, and your teeth might whiten inconsistently if the gel gets pushed around. It’s especially difficult for white strips to reach your back teeth.
2. Custom Bleaching Trays: $150 to $1,500
You’re almost guaranteed to get good results with custom bleaching trays, especially if you’re using a higher concentration of peroxide.
Custom fit trays ensure that whitening gel is applied evenly over your teeth, and can be worn conveniently night or day or even while sleeping (as long as you don’t keep them in longer than instructed). They also come with higher quality gels, with stronger bleaching power, calcium-phosphate to strengthen your teeth and a desensitizing agent to make the process more comfortable.
Custom trays can be created by your dentist or bought in DIY form over-the-counter, and the quality of the trays and gels is what creates the large difference in the costs. Even if you don’t end up getting your tray from your dentist, consult with them before you start whitening. Certain peroxides can be extremely harsh on sensitive gums and teeth, and your dentist can tell you which products will work best for you.
1. Laser Teeth Whitening: $500 to $2,500
The cost of laser teeth whitening is high but it’s also the most effective whitening treatment on the market since it needs to be performed by cosmetic dental associates.
You can see dramatic effects from laser teeth whitening in only one visit, though sometimes multiple sessions are required to get to your ideal shade depending on the health of your teeth. The cost of multiple cosmetic dental procedures can add up quickly, so only go for this option if you’re ready to fund it.
Laser teeth whitening uses highly concentrated bleaching formulas accelerated by the heat and light of concentrated lasers. This is easily the fastest and most effective method of whitening teeth, but since it’s a major cosmetic dental treatment, there may be some temporary pain or discomfort.
Be advised that porcelain veneers won’t respond to bleaching agents, so you’ll have to consult your dentist to avoid uneven whitening if you have them.
The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry says that over 99% of Americans believe that a smile is an important social asset, so don’t be afraid to pay a little more for cosmetic dental treatment if it’ll get you the results you want.