A smile that’s less than pearly white may make you want to keep your grin to yourself. Whiteness and the color of teeth are among the first things people notice in a person’s smile, according to a recent survey by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.
If your teeth are yellow or stained, you might be contemplating natural tooth whiteners and wondering if they’re worth a try.
First, it helps to understand how teeth whitening systems available from your dentist work. Professional whiteners use peroxide solutions to bleach discolorations from your teeth at higher concentrations than drugstore teeth-whitening products. The least expensive option is a kit you can get at the dentist’s office. Prices vary depending on region, but generally run from $50 to $75. “They can be a good bet for quick, relatively inexpensive last-minute whitening, ” says Marc Nock, DDS, of Zenthea Dental in New York City.
The second teeth-whitening choice involves custom-fit trays. Your dentist will take an impression of your teeth to make a tray “that fits your smile like a glove, ensuring that a minimum amount of whitening material comes into contact with your gums, reducing pain and sensitivity, ” Dr. Nock says. Prices run from $350 to about $600.
The third and most expensive option is in-office whitening coupled with custom-fit trays to use at home. This option can produce almost instantaneous results by using whitening gels activated by a special light. “Most people will leave several shades lighter than when they walked in, ” says Kellee Kattleman Stanton, DDS, a family and cosmetic dentist at George Dental Group in Eagan, Minn. Again, prices vary but can top $1, 000.