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Teeth Whitening. Dentist or Home? Effectiveness and Affordability

Updated on October 14, 2013

Why have whiter teeth?

A bright white smile is associated with good health. People generally view those with nice white teeth as some one who takes better care of their overall health. Although it may not be really fair, a winning smile with whiter teeth can probably help land a new job more easily.

A good smile can contribute to better emotional health which also affects overall general health. We have better attitudes and generally more happiness when we have better self esteem. Whiter teeth can of course help us look younger. That is always a boost!

Having said all this it stands to good reason: a person with a beautiful white smile is probably happier and more relaxed than some one who stresses about their smile. They just may in turn actually really be generally healthier.

Tooth whitening procedures range from fairly costly ($400 to $1,000) to less expensive over the counter treatments that have increased in number in recent years, all with varying results and prices.

There are even some old home remedies for tooth whitening. Wouldn't it be interesting to conduct your own little qualitative research experiment with those methods? There is a list of them at the end of this Hub, so read on!

It is important to note that a nice smile does not necessarily indicate teeth so white they don't even look real. Sometimes, yes, that old saying, less is best. Thanks to a wide market for tooth whitening products we can pick and choose the one that best fits our individual needs.

The following comparisons represent a cross-sampling of a growing number of available products both in and out of the dentist's office.

What causes teeth to stain and discolor?

The biggest culprits to yellow and brown stained teeth are smoking and the excessive drinking of coffee, tea and colas, and age. Poor brushing habits contribute as well. Left on foods,especially wine, chocolate, and all of the aforementioned will eventually stain teeth. Tooth enamel is porous. Frequent brushing therefore is one preventative measure to assure white teeth. There is also an array of "tooth whitening" toothpastes and mouth washes available that may be subtly effective.

Age is a major factor in duller teeth. As we age enamel becomes thinner and the dentin inside the teeth become more visible. Grayish teeth are caused by genetic reasons or from taking a lot of antibiotics (tetracycline) through the years.


Tooth Whitening Procedures

Cosmetic Dentistry

The most effective method for whitening teeth is from the services of a cosmetic dentist. However it is also the most expensive, and most dental insurance plans do not pay for any cosmetic dentistry procedures.

Laser whitening

The laser whitening procedure involves using a translucent bleaching gel applied to the teeth. A laser light activates the crystals in the gel to absorb energy from the light which then penetrates tooth enamel and in turn increases the lightening effect on the teeth. This is the quickest method, the most non subtle, and the most expensive. Unless the teeth are really badly discolored one visit is all it takes. But that one visit will cost around $1000.

Zoom! Brand Whitening

The Zoom! system is an in office whitening procedure that has become popular.A light-activated whitening gel is used along with the Zoom! light. The Zoom! light helps activate the hydrogen peroxide; as it is broken down oxygen enters tooth enamel and tooth color is lightened.

A study has shown that the use of the Zoom! lamp increases the effectiveness of the Zoom! gel by 33% or more, giving an average improvement of eight shades. The entire procedure, which includes a gum protective prep and a final fluoride rinse, will take a little over an hour. Depending on the individual dentist the cost is between $400 and $500.

The Zoom! system is safe and effective. There may be a side effect of increased tooth sensitivity to hot and cold for a few days which will disappear. There are afew reports, however, of extreme pain during the procedure to consider.

There is also an in-home Zoom! system available. The same product is used and the same dramatic results can be achieved but at a slower rate of 3-4 days.


BrightSmile is another in-office whitening that uses a light activated gel procedure. Depending on individual discoloration, applications are repeated in three twenty minute increments. The procedure is usually completed in around two hours and the price is $600 which includes a take home after care kit. No tooth sensitivity or complications are reported for BrightSmile.

Over The Counter Teeth Whitening

At home whitening kits are available that can give satisfactory results for those who do not have grayish teeth, overly sensitive teeth to hot and cold, or crowns and fillings on the front teeth. These cases should only whiten under the care of a dentist. The best results for at home whitening are systems that use strips or fitted trays that fit well around the teeth with hydrogen peroxide solutions.

Here are the top rated over the counter whitening systems:

Plus White 5 Minute Speed Whitening System has a 4 star over all rating for effectiveness and a 5 star rating for affordability. It uses carbamide peroxide with a non listed pecentage. The cost is $8.

Crest 3D White Strips Professional Effects has a 4 star over all rating for effectiveness and a 3 star rating for affordability. It uses 10% peroxide and average price is $78.

Crest 3D White Strips Advanced has a 4 star over all rating for effectiveness and a 3 star rating for affordability. It uses 9.5% peroxide and average price is $35.

Crest 3D White Strips Gentle Routine has a 4 star over all rating for effectiveness and a 3 star rating for affordability. It uses 3 to 7% peroxide and average price is $40.

E Bright LED Whitening System has a 3 and 1/2 star over all rating for both effectiveness and affordability.It uses 6% peroxide and average price is $125.

Listerine Whitening Quick Dissolve Strips system has a 3 and 1/2 star over all rating for effectiveness and a 4 star rating for affordability. The percentage of peroxide used is not given. The average price is $19.

Love That Smile Whitening Foam has a 3 star over all rating for effectiveness and 4 stars for price. listed as "good for those with mild stains." It uses .1% peroxide. The average price is from $24 to $64.

Aqua Fresh Whitening Trays have a 3 star over all rating for effectiveness and 3 stars for affordability. It uses 10% peroxide and the average price is $29.

Best Over -The- Counter Tooth Whitening

4 stars for Plus White 5 Minute Speed Whitening System

Varying Needs

Teeth whitening needs vary from person to person. Fortunately there is a wide market of whitening products available.This creates great competition and quality products allowing choices that fit both need and budget.

Keep in mind the health benefits of a nice smile!

Alternative Whitening

  1. Make a paste of diluted hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. Use 2:1 parts with water. Brush twice daily.
  2. Brush with the sap of an aloe vera plant.
  3. Strawberries mashed and rubbed on teeth. Brush afterwards to remove fruit sugar.
  4. Routinely snacking on apples and celery will help keep teeth white.
  5. Rinse daily with coconut oil.
  6. Rub teeth with olive oil.
  7. Rub teeth with the inside of a banana peel.(potassium whitens teeth)
  8. Use in conjunction: Listerine Pre-Wash Whitening,Colgate Total Whitening Paste and Arm & Hammer Whitening Gel.


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    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      6 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Oh, thanks so much, Chicago Guy!

    • chicagoguy profile image

      Raj Lally Batala 

      6 years ago from Chicago ,USA

      great hub !!

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      6 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      That is really interesting! Truth be told, I have not tried that long enough to probably do it justice. Thanks!

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Rebecca! This a very info juicy write on the subject. Nowadays, in these times, $500 to a $1000 is not in the budget for the dentist way so I was particularly interested in the home-grown aids so to speak. The store brands of course work for peeps but I must say that just a few months ago someone turned me on to the banana peel option and by gosh if I haven't seen about 30 to 40 percent brightening! Just rub the inside of the peel like you wrote and leave on for maybe 5 minutes. Sometimes the old ways can equal or trump the corporate ways, eh, maybe:)

    • rose-the planner profile image

      rose-the planner 

      6 years ago from Toronto, Ontario-Canada

      Excellent article! This is very insightful and you offered great information regarding teeth whitening products and tips. A whiter, brighter smile makes all the difference. Thank you for sharing! (Voted Up) -Rose

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      6 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      What a brilliant hub!..I never knew there were so many way to achieve a brighter smile. Useful an very enlightening, great hub :).

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Terrific hub filled with good information about the various costs of professional teeth whitening methods and also alternative measures that we can try at home for little cost. Up votes, sharing and pinning.

    • Hairdetanglers profile image


      7 years ago

      Great information, thanks for the baking soda and peroxide tips especially.

    • alifeofdesign profile image

      Graham Gifford 

      7 years ago from New Hamphire

      I had recently read about using hydrogen peroxide which I had heard before and forgotten. I read that it was good for healthy gums. Somehow it seems strange to me to rinse with it - not sure why, so I have tried baking powder (great for so many things).

      Interesting hub. Thank you.

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      7 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Thanks Mary. Baking soda is so versatile, isn't it?

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      7 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Thanks! I can't afford the professional whitening either. I suppose that is what inspired me to creat this Hub. Maybe if we write enough Hubs and wait long enough??

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      7 years ago from Florida

      One would think that rubbing strawberries on your teeth would stain them red. With my luck, I'd have pink teeth!

      When I was a kid, there was no money for toothpaste, so we used baking soda. We sure had white teeth!

      I voted this UP, and will share.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      7 years ago from Oakley, CA

      I drink waaaaayyyyy too much tea and I'm a devout chocoholic. I'll probably never have white teeth again, for the professional treatments are so far from being in my budget as to be laughable. ;-)

      However, I just might take a stab at some of the do-it-yourself tricks you supplied. Thanks for that information.

      This was a truly well-researched and well-explained article. Voted up across (except funny), and shared.

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      7 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      You are welcome vespawoolf. I am glad you found this information on tooth whitening useful.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      Vespa Woolf 

      7 years ago from Peru, South America

      This is a really good overview of teeth whitening produres. I haven't heard of some of them, including the Zoom! system. I'll have to look into it...thank you! Voted up and shared!

    • TotalHealth profile image


      7 years ago from Hermosa Beach, CA

      Thanks, nice hub! As an avid coffee and wine drinker I find the need to whiten my teeth every couple of years. Now that it's time once again your article came in handy by saving me lots of research.

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      7 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Thanks Barbara for bringing this one up. I just went back and added one of the new capsules, ratings, and rated the top brand of home whitening system. What fun!

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 

      7 years ago from USA

      I appreciate the information on all of the alternatives. You really did your homework on this one and it's one of the better hubs, I've seen in a long time. I'll vote this up and useful.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 

      7 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Wonderful information, you really did your homework! I have never heard of some of these remedies. I rinse my mouth, after brushing with a whitening toothpaste, with hydrogen peroxide. I can really tell a difference after just a few times. Thanks for the information. Voted up and sharing! Have a wonderful day! :)

    • Dexter Yarbrough profile image

      Dexter Yarbrough 

      7 years ago from United States

      Hi Rebecca! Using hydrogen peroxide and baking soda has worked for me. And it cost less than the other methods. Thanks for the great information!

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      7 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Thanks for stopping by to read, Brett!

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett C 

      7 years ago from Asia

      A very detailed review. When I opened this, I was expecting a general comparison, but you have really covered a lot of ways for a whiter smile!

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      7 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Thanks Miss Frost! I was surprised about the coconut oil as well.

      Cebutouristspot, thanks. You reminded us all how important good pictures are for our Hubs!

      Good luck, Susan.The 5 minute white for 8 bucks is a good find!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      So glad I came by to read this today as I've been thinking about a home kit for teeth whitening. But after reading this I will think twice about the kit as I have overly sensitive teeth. I think I will try a few of your alternative methods.

      Great Hub!

    • cebutouristspot profile image


      7 years ago from Cebu

      The picture caught my attention and I didnt regret the decision to read this hub. Nice tips on teeth whitening I would surely give it a try.

    • MissFrost profile image


      7 years ago from 50% Island Girl, 25% East Coast Girl, 25% Country Girl

      Rebecca, this is a GREAT hub! It caught my attention from the start. I like how you included the alternative options...I use coconut oil on my skin, who knew it could be good for your teeth? Thanks for the writing this hub! Up and interesting!

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      7 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Not much if any difference in two. Studies conclude that both are equally safe and effective!

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Hey, thanks for the over-the-counter whitening rates rebecca. Its getting that time again after the coffee abuse lol and I was starting to wonder what the recommended ones are now. Those are some good bid prices. Do you know if there's that much difference between Carbamide and Hydrogen Peroxide?


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