Teeth Whitening: Your Options and What You Should Know

There's a reason that the tooth whitening industry is worth over $4.05 billion: people feel more confident when they have a bright smile.

Having a nice smile that's clean and white can help lead to more confidence in social situations and improved self-image.

However, there are many things that we consume that lead to the dulling and staining of our teeth. Some of the top offenders are coffee, soda, red wine, and cigarettes.

The good news is there are many types of teeth whitening to help you whiten your teeth again, all at varying degrees, timelines, and costs.

In this article, we'll outline your options as well as their benefits and drawbacks.

Over-the-Counter Tooth Whitening Options

There are many kinds of over-the-counter (OTC) tooth whitening options. They range from daily use items like toothpaste and mouthwashes to solutions you'll use every other day like strips.


Nearly every toothpaste brand has a whitening option. It should be easy to stick with the same brand you use every day.

Using whitening toothpaste won't get you speedy results by any means. The idea behind whitening toothpaste is more to maintain your current level of tooth whiteness.

However, using whitening toothpaste long-term can help maintain your pearly whites without needing to pursue other methods.

Whitening Trays

At nearly every drug store (as well as most of your favorite online retailers like Walmart and Amazon), you can find whitening tray kits. These kits typically have standard-sized trays which are not molded to your teeth specifically.

To use the trays, you'll have to squeeze some of the gel into the molds and sit with the trays in for the recommended amount of time on the instructions. Don't leave the trays in for longer than the recommended time, as the gel can cause tooth sensitivity in some customers.

Whitening trays that you get over the counter can range in price from usually $25 to $80. Different kits have different time frames for results but you can typically expect results in a few weeks.


Strips are the cleaner and more convenient cousin of whitening trays.

Each set of strips comes in a disposable package, making them easy to use on the go. You typically wear them for the same amount of time as you would whitening trays.

The same rule applies to strips as it does to trays: don't leave them on for longer than the recommended period of time as they can cause tooth sensitivity.

As with whitening trays, you can expect to see results after a few weeks of use.

Natural Solutions

There are a handful of natural remedies you can use to help brighten your smile. An easy one is to use baking soda to brush your teeth which can help fight tooth stains and restore whiteness.

Another popular ingredient is hydrogen peroxide which is a common ingredient in many conventional whitening products. You can combine hydrogen peroxide with baking soda to form a paste or dilute some in water to use as a regular mouthwash. Do note that hydrogen peroxide, when used in a non-diluted form, can temporarily whiten the gums immediately around your teeth.

Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide are both very cheap options to help lift some tooth stains and maintain your teeth whiteness.

Finally, you can also try an activated charcoal toothpaste or dry powder. Activated charcoal is known for lifting stains off of your teeth. A charcoal solution is best used 2-3 times per day rather than daily.

Charcoal toothpaste products can cost anywhere from $5 to $20.

Dentist-Prescribed Options

For speedier results without breaking the bank, talk to your dentist about some prescribed take-home solutions. These solutions typically cost between $100 and $200.

Take-home prescription options from your dentist are easy to use. Your dentist will take molds of your teeth and have custom trays made to fit your teeth exactly. At home, you'll inject a bit of whitening solution into the trays and keep the trays in for about 30 minutes.

You might wonder why you need to go to your dentist for this kind of solution when you can buy a tray whitening kit at the drugstore. The reason for going to your dentist is primarily that the bleach you can get through your dentist is stronger and will provide quicker results.

Whitening solutions that you can take home from your dentist are a good blend of having a faster whitening process with the ability to whiten your teeth on your own schedule.

In-Office Teeth Whitening

If you need your teeth whiter ASAP, an in-office teeth whitening session is likely what you need. You should expect to pay about $500 for an in-office whitening session. Do keep in mind that because tooth whitening is an elected procedure, your dental insurance will not cover it.

There are several well-known tooth whitening treatments available on the market. Some options involve shining a special light on your teeth as part of the procedure.

Here's what a typical in-office teeth whitening session looks like:

  1. The hygienist cleans your teeth and gums (planning tooth whitening following your bi-annual checkup makes this part easy)
  2. Your dentist applies the whitening gel
  3. The gel stays on your teeth for a prescribed amount of time - if the solution you're using, like Zoom WhiteSpeed, requires a special light, the light will be applied at this time
  4. Your dentist removes the gel and applies a post-treatment solution

That's it! You'll walk out of your dentist's office with whiter teeth in just under an hour. Depending on the solution, you might have to return for 1-2 more sessions. When consulting your dentist about whitening solutions, ask him about the process for the product he uses so you know what to expect.

Find the Best Types of Teeth Whitening for You

It might seem like there are far too many options to choose from when it comes to types of teeth whitening. However, the good news is that all those options mean you can find a product that works for your timeline and budget.

If you want to learn more about the in-office tooth whitening process, please get in touch with us today.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.