A great smile is one of the most effective first impressions a person can offer. It can give the sense of radiance, warmth and confidence. For the opposite sex, it is often times the most memorable feature upon meeting.
According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, 74 percent of adults surveyed believe an unattractive smile could affect a person’s career success. When the same group was asked what they each would change about their smile, “whiter and brighter” was the most popular answer.
Flashing that sparkling white smile is no longer only attainable by the rich and famous. Practically every brand in the dental care industry has released a teeth-whitening product for consumers looking to brighten their not-so-pearly whites.
We’ve researched the options available and consulted several local dentists to find out their top picks and recommendations.
At-home teeth whitening products
The ‘do-it-yourself’ cosmetic improvement product line is expanding each and every day. We are busy people, and price and convenience are often the utmost important factors in keeping up with our hectic lifestyles.
Whitening toothpastes and rinses are the most convenient and cost efficient, averaging $5 to $10. These products are used as a replacement to your regular toothpaste and mouthwash and can remove surface stains, brightening your smile by one shade after up to 12 weeks of use.
Strips and gels both require a longer time commitment – up to two times each day for two weeks. In this case, the longer commitment means longer-lasting results, averaging up to four months. Whitening strips and gels average $10 to $60. According to Dr. Ginger Price of Ginger Price DDS Family Cosmetic Dentistry, remembering to use the strips and gels as recommended can be difficult for many, and the results may suffer with each forgotten use.
Finally, tray-based whitening products may be worn the longest – sometimes even overnight. The average price range is between $15 and $35. While effective, the tray size and shape of this over-the-counter option is not customized to a person’s mouth, which means the gel may not sit as close to the tooth’s surface as it would with a custom-fit tray from a dentist’s office.
In-office teeth whitening procedures
The higher price tag of in-office teeth whitening is reflected in the results. For those who can pencil in an hour or two in the dentist’s chair, an in-office treatment might be well worth the time and money to achieve that whiter and brighter smile.
According to Dr. Christine Kopsky-Samuel of Market Street Dental, over-the-counter products typically result in whitening a person’s teeth by one to two shades, while in-office treatments often whiten teeth five to six shades. In-office procedures may require one or several treatments and can last anywhere up to a year.
During these treatments, a trained professional applies a bleaching formula directly to the tooth’s surface. The treatment may include the use of lights, lasers or heat to reach optimal results, and custom-fit trays may be utilized for in-office treatment and at-home maintenance.
In-office procedures can range anywhere between $150 and $1000, depending on the office, type of procedure and number of treatments required.
Keep in mind
Teeth whitening is considered to be a safe procedure for people with healthy teeth and gums, and few or no crowns or fillings. Gum irritation and tooth sensitivity are the most common side effects.
While using various whitening techniques three to four times each year is considered safe, Dr. John Badolato of Studio B Smiles recommends against excessive whitening – everyday use for longer than one month.
Because teeth whitening success is unique to each individual, “A consultation with a cosmetic dentist is usually the best plan for any consumer looking to optimize results on any budget,” stated Badolato.
BEST AT-HOME TEETH WHITENING PRODUCTS
Cost: $30 to $60
Use: Gel-based strips; varied wear times
Expectations: Varied results seen after several days of use and lasting results for up to four months
Use: Tray-based whitening gel with light activity is used for eight minutes over five to 10 consecutive days.
Expectations: Up to five shades whiter
Use: Use as mouthwash for 60 second before brushing, twice daily
Expectations: One shade brighter