A great smile is an asset - in your personal life and your career. But what is a "great" smile exactly? Some might say it starts slowly and ends at the eyes. Most people would agree, however, that the whiter the teeth, the nicer the smile. In fact, a survey by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry revealed that the majority of Americans would like whiter teeth. That could explain why the number of teeth whitening treatments rose 300 percent from 1997-2004, according to AACD.
Today, tooth whitening is still one of the most popular cosmetic dentistry treatments around. Obviously, wanting a beautiful smile is a huge motivation. But there are other reasons why whitening teeth tops everyone's "must do" list. Here's three:
#1 - Teeth Whitening Is Affordable
Think about how much you spend on a haircut. Add to that a facial, manicure, pedicure, waxing, or any other beauty treatment you get on a regular basis. Costs could easily add up to hundreds of dollars. On the other hand, a professional laser tooth whitening treatment can cost as low as a few hundred dollars, depending on the dental office. While not exactly cheap, whitening teeth professionally can last for years. Plus, you get the added benefit of having an expert do the job. And with professional teeth whitening, maintenance is minimal, especially if you reduce consumption of coffee, tea, wine and tobacco.
Even if a professional tooth whitening treatment isn't in your budget, you can still have whiter teeth without breaking the bank. At the low end of the price spectrum are whitening toothpastes, which cost about $10 for a single tube. Teeth whitening strips are another cost-effective option at about $20-30, depending on the number of strips. Home whitening kits cost about $30-50 and can be purchased online, at a drug store or in a dental office.
#2 – There’s Something for Everyone
Whitening teeth used to be something only a privileged few could do. But today, there's a solution to fit just about every budget and lifestyle. Making the decision to whiten your teeth might be a no-brainer, but choosing how to do it could be a challenge. Our advice? Know your options. And then see a dentist for a professional opinion.
Here's a guide to the most common types of tooth whitening:
Teeth Whitening Toothpaste - Could your teeth use a touchup but you don't have the time, funds or patience to deal with an entire tooth whitening "system"? A whitening toothpaste is probably the way to go. The active ingredient in most toothpastes can range from non-abrasive Calprox® (a baking soda mix) to hydrated silica, a mild abrasive. Whitening teeth with toothpaste gets points for being a no-fuss solution: There's no interruption to your normal routine, the costs are minimal and the results respectable. However, treat this option like a long-term investment. The payoff is gradual, not instant.
Teeth Whitening Strips - Another cost-effective solution for people who want whiter teeth without spending a lot of cash. You'll love how straightforward strips are: Just press them onto your upper and lower teeth for 30 minutes a day. You could notice whiter teeth as early as three days after use, though the full effect takes about 30. Unlike toothpastes, whitening strips contain hydrogen peroxide, the bleaching agent used in some professional-grade tooth whitening systems. Whitening teeth strips are also portable enough to fit into a bag or briefcase and easy enough to apply at home or the office.
Over-the-Counter Home Teeth Whitening - OTC tooth whitening kits are perfect for people who want (or need) something more powerful than strips but not as potent as professional whitening. But let's face it, one of the draws to whitening teeth at home is the convenience factor. Most OTC kits involve wearing a tray (a mouthguard like device) that's filled, via syringe, with whitening solution. Wear time can range from an hour a day to overnight. Other OTC whitening kits use a brush applicator instead of a tray. With this kind of kit, you brush on the whitener and rinse it off after 30 minutes, twice a day. Containing about 10 percent hydrogen peroxide, whiter teeth could appear in a few days and the full effect in about two weeks, depending on the kit.
Professional-Grade Home Teeth Whitening - Want whiter teeth under the guidance of a dentist but can't commit to laser whitening? A professional-grade home teeth whitening kit could be the answer. Part do-it-yourself, part professionally administered, these systems are dispensed only by dentists. Unlike the one-size-fits-all tray that comes with an OTC tooth whitening kit, dentist-provided kits have a custom-made tray designed for a perfect fit. Another built-in bonus: expert advice. A dentist can walk you through the instructions, give insider tips and answer questions on the spot. And with up to 35 percent amorphous calcium phosphate or a similar concentration of carbamide peroxide, hydrogen peroxide or both, you can expect to notice whiter teeth after a day and impressive results in about a week. Many of these systems are also designed for people with sensitive teeth.
1-Hour Laser Teeth Whitening - If you've got the funds and want results now, you could be a perfect candidate for 1-hour laser teeth whitening. But be advised: Your teeth have to be in good shape to get the go-ahead for laser tooth whitening. That means if you need dental work, you'll have to get that taken care of first. Whitening teeth with a laser may not be a good fit for people with sensitive teeth, either. However, once a dentist gives you the green light, get ready for a dramatic change: 1-hour laser whitening can whiten teeth up to eight shades in about an hour. The magic lies in the advanced technology. With laser teeth whitening, an ultraviolet light (laser) is used to accelerate the whitening process, sometimes as fast as 45 minutes!
Power Teeth Whitening - Until recently, people with tetracycline stains just had to live with them; not even laser whitening could help. But a breakthrough approach is giving thousands of people new hope. It's called "power whitening" or "power bleaching," and it involves a combination of in-office laser tooth whitening with at-home tray whitening. Whitening teeth this way can take a few weeks and may require repeating, depending on the tooth stains.
#3 - Teeth Whitening Works
Millions of people have tried it - because it works! Whether you're on a shoestring budget, always on the go or have a special event coming up, it's never been easier to have whiter teeth. Deciding which whitening teeth solution is right for you is no small deal though. This guide is a great place to start understanding your options. But you'll get the best advice from a dentist.