Science & Articles >> TEETH WHITENING

The cost of teeth whitening kits: product comparisons

When researching the cost of teeth whitening the consumer must also consider what their expectations are to avoid disappointment and to determine which whitening kit is a good fit. The 4 most popular teeth whitening procedures are: in-office power bleaching, custom fitted teeth whitening trays, and teeth whitening strips. All of the above work but they are not all ideal for everyone’s budget or expectations.

In order for any teeth whitening product to effectively remove stains from the surface of the enamel and within dentin the bleaching agent must be composed of either carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. The peroxide solution must maintain contact with the entire tooth for greater than 45 minutes per whitening session. This allows the peroxide to not only remove surface stains on the tooth’s enamel but also seep through the pours of the enamel and come in contact with the tooth’s dentin where the deep stains reside. Depending on the duration of each session and concentration of peroxide in the gel, the average person will achieve stain free teeth after 3-15 applications.

Teeth whitening gel comes in a variety of concentrations ranging from 10% carbamide peroxide to as great as 35% carbamide peroxide. Below is a chart that estimates the number of treatment’s required before all stains have been removed.

Smiley face

Cost and benefits comparison of at-home and in-office teeth whitening kits

The 5 most popular teeth whitening kits are:

tooth drawing In-office laser/power bleaching (professional grade)
tooth drawing teeth whitening trays created by a Dentist (professional grade)
tooth drawing teeth Whitening trays by (professional grade)
tooth drawing teeth whitening strips
tooth drawing whitening tooth paste

Benefits and cost of in-office laser/power teeth bleaching

In office laser teeth bleaching (also known as power bleaching) is a procedure performed by the dentist in the office while under their supervision for the duration of the treatment(s). The procedure will begin with an examination and cleaning of the teeth to ensure all plaque and tarter have been removed from the surface of the tooth.
If the patient has cavities the dentist will treat them and schedule the patient for the laser teeth whitening session at a later date. If the patient does not have cavities the dentist will move forward with the laser teeth whitening procedure.
Laser Teeth Whitening Process:

  1. The Dentist will begin by inserting cheek protractors which prevent the lips from coming in contact with the bleaching agent.
  2. Once the cheek protractors are in place the dentist will layer a barrier termed “bridge along the gum line. The bridge prevents the peroxide bleaching agent from coming in contact with the gums which creates a burning effect.
  3. Now that the lips and gums are protected the dentist will generously coat each tooth with a 22-45% hydrogen peroxide concentration and insert a high powered LED light for 30-60 minutes.
  4. Depending on the patient’s condition 1-3 additional treatments’ may be required before all stains have been removed. The patient will return to the dentist every 2 weeks for a checkup.

Without a doubt, laser teeth whitening will remove all stains, thus restoring your teeth to their natural color however the stain removal is not a result of the LED light. The reason laser teeth whitening is relatively fast and effective is because of the high concentration of peroxide and the surface area of the tooth it covers.

“The lights do not make a difference, but only give the appearance of whitening as a result of dehydration.” Van B. Haywood, DMD

Follow-ups are recommended because in the span of 2 weeks there is a color relapse before the actual color of the tooth stabilizes. Patients are also encouraged to purchase custom fitted teeth whitening trays on top of the laser whitening session to further the results if they do not wish to return to the dental office for follow-up treatments several weeks out however a follow-up check-up is still encouraged.

Benefits of Custom Fitted Teeth Whitening Trays

For those who are not familiar with custom fitted teeth whitening trays here’s a quick run-down. You have the option of either going to the dentist or visiting If you choose to visit your dentist you will schedule an appointment. The dentist will examine your mouth for pre-existing cavities. If none are found he/she will take an impression of your upper and lower teeth and then either mail them off to a lab such as Smile Brilliant or have their assistant go through the tray creation process. Whether it be Smile Brilliant or the dental assistant the tray creation process is the same:

  1. Pour a plaster into the dental impression and let set for an hour or so.
  2. Once hardened, a clear rubber like disc is placed over the molding of the teeth and the two are set in a vacuum forming machine which heats the material so it takes shape of the dental moldings. The rubber like material is the actual teeth whitening tray.
  3. The lab tech will then proceed by trimming excess material with scissors so the trays fit in the user’s mouth.

Those who choose to purchase their trays using’s lab direct process will be taking their own dental impressions and mailing them to the Smile Brilliant tray creation lab located in St. Louis MO. Granted Smile Brilliant is U.S. based, they ship globally which means if you have an address they will ship to you.

Taking your dental impressions is as easy as 1, 2, 3!

Mix white and blue paste together

2:00 min

dental impression material dental impression material Simply mix one white (catalyst) and one blue (base) paste together for 2 minutes. Roll the paste into a small hotdog shape and set it in the impression tray.
Take dental impressions and place in mail

2:00 min

dental impression material dental impression material Insert the tray into your mouth and press it into your teeth so the material flows over the gum line. After 2 minutes remove them, let harden fully, and rinse. The tray creation kit comes with a pre-paid/pre-addressed return envelope. Place impressions in envelope and mail them back to the Smile Brilliant lab.

Smile brilliant tray creation turnaround time

Most of the smile brilliant lab direct process time is spent in transit to and from the customer’s home. The chart below provides a close estimate to the total time spent per process and also provides a total range based on United States Customers and International customers.

smile brilliant turnaround time

Custom fitted teeth whitening tray product comparison

Whether you opt to purchase the trays from your Dentist or Smile Brilliant the trays and gel will be the same. The average cost at the dentist is $500 for the trays + $15 per gel syringe. Compare that to Smile Brilliant which offers both upper and lower trays + 3 gel syringes for about 1/4 the cost. On-top of the dramatic price difference you also get a 2 year tray replacement warranty and a 30 day money back guarantee both of which are not offered by the Dentist.

smile brilliant turnaround time
smile brilliant turnaround time

Benefits of Crest Teeth Whitening Strips

teeth whitening stripsThose with perfectly straight teeth will benefit the most from teeth whitening strips however the results will not compare to those achieved by laser teeth whitening or custom fitted teeth whitening trays. Unlike teeth whitening trays, teeth whitening strips struggle to effectively whiten the gum lines and near the crevices where the teeth adjoin. As a result the front surface of the teeth become stain free leaving the crevices and gum lines with stains. Another note worthy downfall to using teeth whitening strips is they only reach the front teeth, leaving the molars untouched. Those with a big smile will be left revealing stains on the side teeth.

If the your objective is to always have white teeth they will need to use the strips at least twice a year which cost between $80-$100. In a 2 year time frame they will have spent $160-$200.

Erin Stelbrink

Erin Stelbrink is a Registered Dental Hygienist with 5+ years of experience as a licensed hygienist and oral health care professional. She holds a passion for researching and acquiring awareness of the latest technologies and methods for providing valuable health care service and clinical treatment. Have more questions? Email Erin at