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Teeth Bleaching: What are my options and how much will it cost?

Teeth Bleaching at the Dentist: How Does it Work?

If you’re considering bleaching your teeth, you’ll probably want to head to your dentist first. Not only can your dentist offer and/or educate you on the variety of teeth bleaching options–like power bleaching or custom-fitted trays, along with lesser options such as whitening strips and whitening tooth paste–but you can also be personally advised as to whether you’re a candidate for teeth whitening and what to expect as far as results go. Everyones teeth are naturally colored differently: some are fortunate to have bright white teeth while others have an off white or in some cases yellow teeth. Teeth whitening will not alter the natural color, it will only remove the stains and restore the tooth to its natural shade of white.

But what of the actual whitening process? Is it really worth it to visit your dentist, when there are so many over-the-counter options available in stores and online?

The quick answer: Not really. For a longer answer, read on.

Visit your dentist even if you do not intend on purchasing teeth bleaching from him/her

First off, and most importantly, your dentist can analyze your teeth to determine the cause of your discoloration. That means physical examinations and radiographs. Not all stains were created equal: tobacco stains, for example, won’t respond well to inexpensive whitening strips [Haywood, 2005].

No matter what route you decide to take, any company that produces a whitening product will advise you to sit in the dentist’s chair as a starting point.

Next, your dentist will propose a few options for whitening. Before any route you take, you’ll want to get your teeth thoroughly cleaned–a standard checkup is fine, so long as the plaque and tartar is scraped away. That gunky build-up can cause splotchy results, especially with OTC whitening strips.

What teeth bleaching methods are common at the dentist?

The two most-common in-office procedures are power bleaching and custom-fitted trays.

Power bleaching means that your dentist will scrub your teeth rid of any excess film, place on a shield to protect your gums and apply a bleaching paste with a high percentage of carbamide peroxide. A bright blue light will heat and speed up the process in under 20 minutes, then your dentist will wipe off the paste and reapply to remove another “layer” on the stains [Kihn, 2005].

This procedure is ostensibly the quickest, but will require a minimum of three visits to the dentist–probably more, if the stains are finicky. And the cost of the procedure when all’s said and done will likely exceed $1,000.

If you choose a set of custom-fitted trays, your dentist will make a mold of your mouth and send the results off to a dental lab like Smile Brilliant!. In a few days you’ll receive the mold, apply a gel on the inside and place it in your mouth for anywhere between one hour and overnight, depending on the strength of the gel and your dentist’s recommendation [Sulieman, 2005]. Most patients prefer the at-home molds, because it saves them the hassle of visiting the dentist constantly, and often results in less heightened sensitivity.

Will One Method Make My Teeth Whiter Than Another?

No. The outcome will be the same when comparing in office lazer power bleaching and custom fitted teeth bleaching trays–effective bleaching depends on the tooth, not the product however fresh gel is important so refer to this article to learn what makes the best teeth whitening gel.. Nicotine stains, for example, can take up to three months to whiten, while no two teeth, even in the same mouth, will necessarily achieve the same level of whiteness [Haywood, 2008].

The biggest difference is the time taken. In office lazer power bleaching purportedly takes less actual time, but the time traveling to and waiting in your dentist’s office aren’t factored in. Trays can be done for 20 minutes a day over a month, or two hours a day for a week; the result will be the same at your leisure.

Isn’t There a Cheaper Route?

Of course there is. Smile Brilliant! cuts out the dentist (middleman) by selling you the exact same whitening trays at wholesale cost, dodging the dentist’s cost markup. Smile Brilliant 22% carbamide peroxide tooth bleaching gel will remove ALL stains and with the option to add desensitizing gel you can reduce/prevent tooth sensitivity. Literally, Smile Brilliant just sells their product to dentists to sell to you at a higher cost but you have the option of purchasing direct!

But, again, we should stress: we’re not advocating you avoid your dentist altogether. Start with a regular checkup, and listen to what’s advised. If you do want to go the way of the tray, don’t spend the extra few hundred dollars by having your dentist order it from us. You’ll get the same product, but we guarantee it will cost more than double what we’re charging.

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