7 Teeth Whitening Options: Which Ones Work Best?

Want a brighter smile? Find out which teeth whitening treatment might do the trick.

Your smile is often the first thing people notice when they meet you, but if you have yellow or stained teeth, this type of exchange can be often be a source of anxiety. No wonder over 40 million consumers in the U.S. have used teeth whitening treatments in 2018, according to

Due to its growing popularity, there are now multiple teeth whitening options available to fit both your needs and your budget. But what can you expect with each type of treatment and which ones work the best? Let’s take a closer look.

Bleaching is considered to be one of the most popular and effective teeth whitening options today and is the method most widely used in dentists’ offices.

During this process, which is also known as “chairside bleaching,” your dentist removes stains by applying bleach directly to your teeth. Your gums are protected using a special gel or a rubber shield. Depending on the type of bleach used—the two most common are hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide—the procedure can take one or more visits. The average cost of an in-office teeth whitening treatment is around $650 and the results can vary depending on the type of stains and the overall condition of your teeth.

If you’re looking for a more affordable and convenient option, some dentists will recommend a custom-made bleaching treatment that you can administer at home using a special tray. However, it will take longer to see results than chairside bleaching—anywhere between a few days and a few weeks. The average cost of this treatment is around $400.

If you don’t have the time or money to visit the dentist, there are plenty of over-the-counter bleaching kits that use the same bleaching agents found in dentist offices, but in lower concentrations. It can take several weeks before you see results, however, and they won’t be as noticeable as with professional treatments. Over-the-counter bleaching kits can cost between $20 and $100 each.


The bleaching agents used on your teeth, according to the American Dental Association, are effective at breaking stains up into small pieces, which makes them less noticeable on your teeth. And while yellow stains respond the best to bleaching, brown and gray stains may not disappear at all.

It’s also important to remember that teeth whitening is not effective on false teeth, such as dentures, caps, veneers, crowns, and fillings. Stains caused by medications or injury may not respond well to treatment either.

#2 Laser Teeth Whitening

Also known as “power whitening,” laser teeth whitening is the newest form of treatment. During this procedure, your dentist applies a bleaching agent to your teeth and then shines a laser on them to speed up and improve the chemical’s whitening effect. The procedure takes about an hour and costs around $1,000.

It’s important to keep in mind, though, that while laser teeth whitening has been approved by the FDA, it has not yet been given the Seal of Acceptance by the American Dental Association (ADA) for safety and efficacy.

#3 Whitening Toothpastes

While all varieties of toothpaste help remove surface stains from your teeth, whitening toothpastes contain ingredients, such as calcium carbonate and hydrated aluminum oxide, that provide additional aid in stain removal. They don’t, however, actually change the color of your teeth like bleaching or laser whitening can. But if you’re looking for a deeper clean than regular toothpaste without spending money and time on bleaching, a whitening toothpaste may be the right choice for you.

According to, it’s important to choose a toothpaste with the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Whitening toothpastes containing blue covarine are also recommended because the chemical can reduce yellow stains by coating your teeth with a thin film that creates an optical illusion of whiter teeth. In fact, according to study published in the Journal of Dentistry, toothpastes containing blue covarine provided tooth whitening benefits immediately after one brush.

Keep in mind that all three conventional methods of teeth whitening come with some risks and side effects, such as:

  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Gum irritation
  • Erosion of tooth enamel
  • Permanent dental damage

Dentists often address these risks by protecting your gums with guards before treatment and instructing their patients to use a special desensitizing toothpaste following treatment. If you’re using an at-home teeth whitening kit, however, look for kits with lower concentrations of bleach and contact your dentist immediately if you have any concerns.

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