No matter how vigilant you are with brushing, flossing and dental check-ups, teeth can still become discolored over time due to the food we eat, lifestyle habits we develop, and age. But don’t worry! With teeth whitening products readily available at your local drugstore or dentist office, achieving a brighter smile is easier than ever before. So which is the best option for you? Professional or at-home teeth whitening?
All of us dream of having sparkling white teeth…
…Unfortunately, disillusionment often follows when we look in the mirror:
- Yellow teeth and discoloration are part of everyday life for many of us – and somehow nothing seems to help.
- For several years, tooth whitening promises a radiant smile – but what about the effectiveness & the cost?
In this post, I explain everything important.
First I go into detail about home teeth whitening (there are inexpensive teeth whitening kits that you can use to whiten your teeth without even visiting a doctor).
After that, I describe the process, risks & costs of professional teeth whitening, which you can only get under dental supervision in the office.
Let’s start with the cheapest option:
Teeth Whitening For Home.
For some time now, there have been over-the-counter whitening kits that you can order from drugstores or online.
Tooth whitening provides white teeth quickly & uncomplicatedly.
Most teeth whitening kits consist of a gel that you apply to your teeth.
Then irradiate your mouth with a UV lamp (provided) for a few minutes.
Repeat these steps a few times until the shade of your teeth noticeably lightens.
This is convenient and saves you from stressful visits to the dentist. In addition, this method usually costs less than $100… while you have to put for professional bleaching easily $500 and more on the table.
No wonder, then, that this method has become increasingly popular in recent years. Meanwhile, there are numerous sets – some of them have tested my team & I.
The best tooth whitening sets in comparison.
When buying a teeth whitening kit, make sure the active ingredient has been tested by dentists and is approved here.
Some English-language vendors sell whitening kits containing harsh chemicals that can cause severe side effects if used incorrectly (and are therefore not allowed in Europe, for good reason).
When buying, therefore, look for trustworthy suppliers to stay on the safe side. I have had good experiences with the following teeth whitening kits:
DiamondSmile’s kits are among the most popular and reliable teeth whitening products around.
In addition to the gel, which you irradiate with a UV lamp as described above, there are also other variants (e.g. a bleaching pen, which you can use to treat specific unsightly stains).
For more info, it’s best to visit the manufacturer’s store or read this comprehensive DiamondSmile teeth whitening review:
Here, in addition to the gel + lamp, there is also an app for your smartphone. The explains you step by step the correct application and makes it so a breeze.
Other alternatives for home.
There are many other products for whitening teeth in addition to the bleaching gels mentioned.
As a rule, these do not work quite as effectively but offer other advantages (such as a cheaper price or easier application). Some, however, have been shown in tests to be completely ineffective or even harmful – beware!
So let’s go through the most common whitening products in order:
Whitening strips allow you to target the front teeth. They are inexpensive and allow multiple applications. In our experience, they give good results for many people.
The only real drawback is the long application time: you need to keep most of the strips in your mouth for around 30-60 minutes and repeat this step on the following days.
Besides that, they offer a quick introduction to the world of bleaching:
The following strips are recommended:
- – popular bestseller – an almost equally popular alternative – insider tip.
You can also browse the whitening kit manufacturers’ stores linked above – just about every one of them offers high-quality strips.
Tooth whitening pens
These pens are suitable for targeted whitening of dark spots and stains.
Depending on the nature of the teeth, an even application is quite difficult. Therefore, I personally would recommend them only in addition to other methods.
Tooth veneers for home
Tooth veneers like those from Zata-Clip not only cover up severe discoloration, but also help hide misaligned teeth.
However, the foreign body feeling deters many users. If you are interested in more information, it is best to read the linked testimonial.
Products like Marvis whitening toothpaste or Blackwood toothpaste promise white teeth from normal brushing.
Be careful, though. For one thing, these toothpastes don’t whiten beyond their natural shade, and for another, they can wear away the teeth’s natural protective layer with years of use.
The same applies to many home remedies, by the way:
Fingers off baking soda & activated charcoal
Baking soda and activated charcoal powder (not the finer variety in tested toothpaste) act like sandpaper and can damage teeth. Especially when combined with acids.
Other home remedies, on the other hand, are useful. Brushing your teeth or rinsing with coconut oil has an antibacterial effect and at least ensures less plaque. However, this cannot be compared with proper whitening.
Efficacy of teeth whitening at home vs dentist
The active ingredients in each kit differ and, of course, teeth do not always react the same way – which is why there are no guarantees when it comes to bleaching.
- As a rule, over-the-counter products lighten your teeth by 1-2 shades.
- Translated, this means that at-home teeth whitening provides naturally white teeth in the best case.
From experience, this is pretty much the beauty ideal of most of my readers. We want a bright white smile, but one that still looks natural and not too artificial.
For a strikingly white Hollywood smile, however, you’ll need to reach for the more expensive teeth whitening at the dentist – here, stronger chemicals are used that provide greater changes.
Also for very darkly discolored teeth, home bleaching may not be enough. Unfortunately, the proof of the pudding is in the eating here – there is no reliable way to determine the end result in advance.
Since teeth whitening kits are so much cheaper & less complicated than a professional whitening, I would try it first with it. Often the results are enough and you save yourself a lot of money.
Tooth Whitening Before After
As I said, the final result depends a lot on the active ingredient and the condition of your teeth (if stubborn plaque is the reason for discoloration, sooner or later it will also cover the whitened teeth)
It’s best not to give too much credit to before and after pictures. Often, they are tricked and the comparisons give little information about your personal end result. Only trying helps.
Most providers publish a before-and-after comparison on their websites, which you can use to get an impression (e.g., on the DiamondSmile website linked above).
But I wouldn’t put too much stock in such before-and-after pictures – our teeth are simply too different to draw any really meaningful conclusions from them. Here helps only try out.
Tooth whitening at home vs dentist: cost
Here you will find the costs of the individual methods at a glance:
|Open-shop bleaching||$30-$90||Lightens teeth beyond the natural shade.|
|Home bleaching (dentist)||$300-$800||The higher concentrated bleaching agent provides a brighter & long-lasting result.|
|Teeth whitening in the office||$400-$1000||Even higher concentration. May only be used under professional supervision.|
In view of the high-cost differences, I would first try the cheaper home teeth whitening kits. If they work well enough, it can save you a lot of money.
Of course, it is always wise to ask your own dentist for advice – because the most effective teeth whitening is only available under medical supervision:
What exactly is meant by professional tooth whitening?
Discoloration on teeth can be removed mechanically by your dentist during a dental cleaning.
Tooth whitening, on the other hand, uses chemicals that penetrate tooth enamel and whiten it from the inside out.
- So, unlike other techniques that attempt to clean dirty teeth, tooth bleaching is a chemical process.
- In this process, the dentist usually bleaches your teeth with the active ingredient hydrogen peroxide (which is also used, for example, when bleaching hair).
The goal can be both to achieve a natural white color of the teeth – or to bleach them beyond to achieve a radiant Hollywodlächeln.
How long has tooth whitening been around?
The first attempts to clean teeth with chemical agents occurred as early as the 18th century.
- At that time, natural acids, primarily from animal urine, were used to remove discoloration from teeth.
- In the U.S., white teeth are part of good taste and teeth whitening has been a very common procedure for several decades.
However, tooth whitening has only been popular for about 15 years. But the demand and the practices that offer tooth whitening are steadily increasing.
When is tooth whitening necessary in the doctor’s office?
Over the years, people’s teeth automatically become discolored.
As we age, our teeth naturally discolor – even with consistent care.
This is a completely natural process that has also been accepted as such for a long time.
- The older you are, the higher the concentration of decomposition products of metabolism in the tooth substance.
- The tooth becomes thinner and often appears faded, yellowish or sickly – despite daily dental care & regular dental visits.
In addition, foods and beverages, which additionally discolor the teeth slowly but surely.
Foods that discolor the teeth
The most well-known and widespread causes of yellowish teeth are
- Red wine
With a lack of dental care, there is also a buildup of deposits, cavities and discoloration of the once white teeth. To restore the original state at least visually, tooth whitening was invented.
What are the types of tooth whitening at the dentist?
For a professional treatment, you should always visit a dentist or a specialized cosmetic dental practice.
Before the treatment, you should know the gross differences between the various whitening options.
There are different types of teeth bleaching offered. I will introduce these to you in more detail below.
In addition to professional teeth whitening treatment, there are also different products that offer teeth whitening or bleaching for home use.
However, these products cannot be compared to actual teeth whitening. Nevertheless, I will also discuss these products in the course of the text.
Tooth bleaching with the home bleaching method
With so-called home bleaching, you perform part of the treatment at home (though still under dental supervision).
At the beginning of the treatment, your dentist or dental laboratory will create a custom-made plastic dental splint for you.
The whitening agent in the tray works for some time and whitens the teeth.
After that, your dentist will explain how to use the dental splint and a chemical containing hydrogen peroxide at home.
In general, you will need to apply the chemical to the dental splint and then wear this for a period of time. In the process, the chemical penetrates the tooth and provides the desired whitening effect.
Advantages of the home whitening method
Far less expensive than other bleaching methods
Disadvantages of the home whitening method
It takes much longer than other teeth whitening methods (up to 8 weeks) but is less effective
If you make a mistake with the dosage of the bleaching agent, it can cause damage to the tooth and gums (gingivitis)
Wearing the dental splint is uncomfortable & takes some time.
Tooth Whitening with the In-Office Whitening Method
Not for nothing, this method of teeth bleaching is also known as power bleaching. It is the fastest and most effective way to whiten your teeth in the short term
Before whitening, your dentist will choose the appropriate tooth color.
With in-office teeth whitening, the dentist performs the treatment in his or her office.
- In principle, the method works similarly to home whitening, but with a much more concentrated chemical solution that the dentist applies directly to the teeth.
- Special light irradiation (laser or UV) intensifies the bleaching effect and already after 20 to 30 minutes you can look forward to significantly whiter teeth.
Often two treatments are enough to give your teeth the desired lighter shade.
Advantages of the in-office whitening method
Very fast and extremely effective
Disadvantages of the In-Office Whitening Method
Significantly higher cost of teeth whitening
Does tooth whitening hurt?
Tooth bleaching uses chemicals that are very aggressive
After teeth whitening, pain-sensitive teeth are normal – they will calm down after a few days.
That’s why careful processing and thorough protection of the gums and oral cavity are crucial for pain-free treatment.
For this reason, I can only recommend that you have your teeth whitened only by experts. After the treatment, there may be very sensitive reactions on the necks of the teeth for a short period of time.
However, this should not last longer than two or three days. Preventive your dentist can also perform a special protective treatment of the necks of the teeth.
How long do the effects of teeth whitening last?
Both the ultimate tooth color and the length of time over which the bleaching effect lasts vary from patient to patient.
Determining factors include:
- The tooth structure – the older your teeth are, the more likely they are to discolor again after some time.
- The thoroughness of dental care – if food residues are deposited on the upper layers, they will cover your white teeth.
- Increasing products & eating habits – staining foods can lead to the re-discoloration of teeth.
So it is quite normal for new tooth discoloration to develop over time, necessitating re-treatment.
A guideline: Most results of professional teeth whitening begin to visibly diminish again after about 2 years.
This value applies to in-office bleaching. The home treatment uses a weaker active ingredient & therefore usually lasts 1-1.5 years.
What can I do to make my teeth stay white longer after teeth whitening?
Avoid the above foods that are known to discolor teeth.
The duration of the bleaching result is in your own hands.
In addition, intensive and thorough dental care is essential to prevent discoloration and infestation of the teeth.
- Don’t overdo it, though: supposed secret tricks like activated charcoal, black toothpaste or baking soda don’t help.
- They attack the enamel and provide only short-term whitening. In the long term, the damage even lead to more discoloration!
You can find many tips on how to keep your teeth white longer in a natural way in this guide to white teeth.
How often can I repeat tooth whitening?
Only your dentist can answer this question.
You should only perform a teeth whitening procedure on healthy teeth.
On the one hand, this person can accurately assess the successes that a repeat tooth whitening can bring, and on the other hand, he can assess how well your teeth tolerate the process of treatment.
- There are some risks involved in teeth whitening (more on that below), which is why your doctor needs to make sure that there will be no damage to your health before the treatment.
- Basically, however, healthy teeth can tolerate several treatments – there is usually nothing to stop you from doing the bleaching again after 2 years.
Since tooth whitening is not a cheap treatment you also need to consider the tooth whitening costs.
What exactly does professional whitening cost?
The cost of teeth whitening varies greatly, and each dentist calculates it individually for each patient.
Approximate prices for teeth whitening at the dentist.
Home whitening: A common average price for a home whitening treatment can cost between $300 and $500, depending on the initial situation and the practice.
In-Office & Power Bleaching: For an in-office bleaching treatment, on the other hand, you should budget between $400 and $700.
As you can see, it’s quite an expensive affair to smile as brightly as the stars.
Does health insurance cover the cost of my teeth bleaching?
Since tooth whitening is a purely cosmetic treatment, statutory health insurance does not cover the costs.
Only in very rare cases will the health insurance possibly cover treatment (for example, if the medication causes permanent discoloration of the teeth)
But even in such cases, you must credibly prove that the treatment is useful (and, for example, psychological problems caused by permanently yellow teeth).
If you have taken out private health insurance or supplementary dental insurance, please check your contract to see whether it covers tooth whitening costs, and if so, how much.
Are there ways to save on teeth whitening?
As with all costly treatments, caution is advised when it comes to saving money.
I recommend teeth whitening to be carried out only by professional dentists or dental practices. Their services, however, also have your price.
The cost of whitening often differs drastically – always get a 2nd opinion.
It is always worthwhile to compare prices, but in the field of tooth whitening, “cheap or cheap” can unfortunately often bring disadvantages. The active ingredient used can cause serious irritation if used incorrectly.
If tooth whitening is too expensive for you, read on. After the next chapter on the risks, I’ll cover even more possible alternatives, which are often much less expensive than teeth whitening treatment.
What health risks do the active ingredients pose?
Since teeth whitening involves the use of aggressive chemicals, professional treatment is the best protection against potential health risks.
Despite this, “burns” & swelling of the gums can sometimes occur. Sensitive tooth necks are another typical consequence of tooth whitening.
Fact: As a rule, professionally performed tooth whitening treatments do not pose any risk to healthy teeth.
To prevent possible damage to the tooth enamel and to avoid sensitization of the tooth necks, subsequent fluoridation of the teeth is helpful.
Most dentists perform this treatment step automatically after teeth whitening.
Proper aftercare reduces the risk of pain after whitening.
For whom is bleaching not recommended at all?
If you already suffer from sensitive tooth necks, you should not undergo tooth bleaching for the time being.
- Also in acute cases of rotten teeth due to caries or periodontal disease, treatment is not recommended.
- Frequent bleeding gums or bad breath can also indicate that something is wrong with your teeth.
- Also, if you have braces or teeth that are sensitive to cold, you need to postpone whitening until later.
For dead teeth (eg after root canal treatment), the methods mentioned here do not work. Here helps very complex & expensive bleaching from the inside. However, a dental crown is usually cheaper & easier.
The bleaching method used for dead teeth is the so-called walking bleaching. The dentist drills a hole in the dead tooth and fills it with bleach. After bleaching, he closes the hole again and the tooth appears brighter.
This is how it works, at least in the best case – some dead teeth, unfortunately, remain dark.
In short: Make sure both your teeth (remove all decay) and gums are treated first and are healthy all-around before having a teeth whitening treatment.
Is there tooth whitening without peroxide?
There are products on the market that promise to whiten teeth without peroxide. However, their effectiveness is controversial.
Dentists and dental offices generally always use hydrogen peroxide when whitening teeth, as this has been shown to promise the best results.
Tooth bleaching does not work for dentures.
The active ingredient contained only reacts with natural tooth enamel. Tooth whitening does not stain dentures.
Existing dentures will not discolor.
This means that while natural teeth will flash white after treatment, artificial materials will stand out even more as a result. So all:If you have already closed tooth holes with it, then they are now clearly visible. : You have to replace the artificial teeth so that the color fits again. Especially with implants, this can cost. : In addition to third parties, there are also partial dentures, which then no longer match the bleached teeth. : The same applies to bridges, which often replace several teeth & close gaps between teeth.
So any whitening that goes significantly beyond the natural tooth color creates problems. Theoretically, you could replace the fillings & dentures, but any dentist will advise against it.
Not only would this cost you a lot of money, but it would also cause unnecessary risks to your health. If you have existing fillings drilled out, for example, tooth substance will always be lost.
And once it’s gone, it’s not possible to rebuild tooth enamel.
What are the alternatives?
There are several alternatives to teeth whitening that can also result in whiter or brighter teeth.
There are alternatives to bleaching – however, they are usually not as effective as chemical bleaching.
One of the most common alternatives is professional teeth cleaning by your dentist.
- Don’t expect too much, though: this method only helps if discoloration masks the natural shade of your teeth.
- If you want whitening beyond the natural whiteness of your teeth, then you are almost left with the chemical route.
- Veneers are wafer-thin shells of ceramic or plastic, with which you can have your teeth veneered. Vermeers are used primarily when individual teeth should get a new tooth color. With costs of up to $1500 per Vermeer, this is a very expensive alternative.
I summarize at this point but again the most important dental care tips. They are the most important measure for white teeth and even with an artificial whitening crucial.
Because if you do not brush your teeth regularly after bleaching, then deposits & tartar quickly hide your beautiful bright color.
Thorough dental care for healthy teeth
The best prevention for yellow teeth & toothache is thorough dental hygiene: ideally, you should clean your teeth after every meal or at least 2-3 daily.
When doing so, keep in mind that a waiting period of thirty minutes is necessary after eating so as not to attack the enamel.
Recommendation for healthy teeth: The Sonicare Flexcare Platinum convinced in the test with a very thorough cleaning & takes a lot of work from you when brushing.
If you want to invest some money in your health, I think there are few better options. You can find out the price here * .
When brushing, make sure to clean your teeth from all sides, and don’t forget the spaces between your teeth.
- Sonic toothbrushes make it easier to clean correctly, even if you don’t have a perfect command of the technique.
- The interdental spaces are best cleaned with dental floss or interdental brushes (even the best toothbrush does not reach these places).
- A fluoride toothpaste not only removes food debris, but also provides your teeth with important minerals & a protective film against tooth decay.
With these 3 points you have covered everything important in terms of oral hygiene.
Complement your dental care with a few effective home remedies.
For even more protection against rotten teeth, you can also supplement your brushing routine with the following secret tips.
- Are a great alternative to flossing (if you can’t handle it at all) and are great for a quick clean in between helping to remove unsightly tongue plaque (a common trigger of bad breath). This ensures white teeth and fresh breath.
- Apart from a good toothpaste, there are also effective home remedies for dental care: olive or coconut oil are suitable as a natural mouthwash. Xylitol is a tooth-friendly substitute for sugar.
In addition to daily cleaning, another thing is also important to best protect the teeth and detect diseases as early as possible: Regular visits to the dentist.
Conclusion: Often there is no alternative to professional teeth whitening
If you want to smile like the stars, you have to dig deep into your pocket just like them. Professional teeth whitening treatments are not exactly inexpensive, but they almost always deliver the desired effect, and within just a few days. But: the best foundation for white teeth is thorough dental care, and this is as good as free.