2 years ago1,000+ Views
After years of regular wear and tear, my teeth are kind of yellowish. I've been considering trying out some kind of whitening for a while now, but I never really knew much about the options. Lately, I've been feeling more and more curious – what's out there? What does it cost, and how much time does it take?
So I decided to do a little research, and share the results with you guys!
There are lots of different tooth whitening systems out there. So many, in fact, that at first it feels a little overwhelming. Here's a comprehensive list:
Whitening toothpaste
Whitening rinses
Over-the-counter gel pens and whitening strips
Tray-based products (OTC or from a dentist)
Professional in-office whitening
I'll take them on each one by one and give a short description, pros and cons, and the pricing and time required. Oh, and how long the results last! Because apparently it's not a permanent procedure, which is something I didn't know before. You live and you learn!

First of all, you should NOT consider teeth whitening if you:

+ Are under 16 years old
+ Are pregnant or lactating
+ Have sensitive teeth or gums (consult a dentist first)
+ Are allergic to peroxide, a common whitening agent
+ Suffer from gum disease, worn enamel, cavities or exposed roots
+ Have tooth colored fillings or crowns (talk to dentist for options)
+ Are a smoker (smoking will negate the effects)
+ Have very darkly stained teeth (brown, grayish, or purplish stains)
(If you'd like, read more about why not on WebMD.)

Whitening Toothpaste

Price: $2-10
This is perhaps the cheapest option. Whitening toothpastes usually contain mild abrasives but no bleaching agent, so they only remove surface stains. In all, they'll probably lighten your teeth about one shade.
Time to See Results: 2-6 weeks
How Long Results Last: N/A

Whitening Rinses

Price: $20-$50
These are similar to mouthwashes, but in addition to keeping your breath fresh and your mouth healthy, they whiten your teeth, thanks to the addition of hydrogen peroxide or a similar bleaching agent. Use involves rinsing your mouth for 60 seconds twice a day. But because it isn't in contact with teeth for very long, experts say it might not be very effective.
Time to See Results: 12 weeks
How Long Results Last: N/A

Over-The-Counter Whitening Strips and Gel Pens

Price: $6-$60
These popular OTC options are usually peroxide-based gels, applied either with a small brush applicator or in the form of a thin, coated strip. Strips are applied twice a day for 30 minutes over a two week period; pens can be used on-the-go, as needed, for a quick touch up or to target particularly stubborn stains. They vary widely in strength and pricing. Strips are a good, inexpensive option, and results last several months.
Time to See Results: A few days
How Long Results Last: About four months

Tray-Based Whitening Products

Price: $7-$400
Mouth guard-like tooth trays that you fill with gel and wear for a period of time; you can get these from your dentist or over the counter. They're much more expensive if you choose to use custom trays molded to your mouth, but those are said to yield the best results, since they do the best job of covering the total surface of your teeth with gel. Generally, they're worn for a couple hours a day or overnight for several weeks. This is a pretty effective option, and the results last a long time. However, you might want to consider doing it with a dentist's supervision to avoid side effects.
Time to See Results: 2-6 weeks
How Long Results Last: 1-3 years

Professional In-Office Whitening

Price: $650, on average
Dentists perform this bleaching procedure using a whitening product in conjunction with heat, light, or a laser. It's certainly the fastest acting option; you'll see results after just one 30-60 minute session. More appointments are needed if you're looking for dramatic results. It's also obviously the most expensive option.
Time to See Results: 30-60 minutes
How Long Results Last: 1-3 years or longer
So there are the major options for getting whiter teeth! Cutting down on coffee, tea, red wine, cigarettes, and other common stain culprits will help as well (it's also expected that you'll do so as a part of any whitening process).
Considering the choices and the associated risks (you can read more about them here on WebMD), I'd say I'm most interested in professional whitening. Maybe I can convince my parents to splurge on that for me for Christmas this year. Haha. But before I undertake something so pricey, it sounds like I should give strips or a tray-based product a try first!
Do you whiten your teeth? What have your experiences been like? I'd appreciate any guidance or product testimonials people care to share. :)