According to market research group Arizton, the teeth whitening industry will grow to nearly $8 billion between 2021 and 2026. With such growth comes a world of teeth whitening options for consumers. You will find no shortage of oral care products like toothpaste, strips, trays, kits, and gels at pharmacies, grocery stores, even department stores. Dentists’ offices promote brighter smiles as well — which we cover later in this article.
Here we break down the cost of whitening your teeth, starting with the least expensive. We also share comments regarding the effectiveness of each type of product. The effectiveness of a product varies, depending on how bad the stains are and the type of stains. Before beginning any type of tooth whitening process, check with your dentist to rule out oral health issues.
Let’s compare two commercial kinds of toothpaste — common brands you can find in drugstores, grocery stores, and the like, and luxury brands you can get from department stores and online boutiques. Toothpaste that contains carbamide peroxide worked slightly better than hydrogen peroxide-based toothpaste, according to Consumer Reports.
Major brand toothpaste
The major toothpaste brands — Colgate, Crest, Sensodyne, to name a few — offer versions that include whitening agents. These tend to be the least expensive teeth whitening products, particularly if you buy them in multi-packs. Some specialty brands, like Burt’s Bees, Tom’s of Maine, and JASON, are considered natural, organic and sustainable because they do not use artificial ingredients and/or do not test their products on animals. Organics tend to cost more than major brands.
Costs: $3 to $10 per 4-ounce tube, or $1.50 to $5 per month (assuming one person uses it twice a day, a standard tube of toothpaste should last about two months)
Effectiveness: If used as directed, this type of whitening toothpaste can brighten your teeth one or two shades. Avoiding teeth-staining foods and beverages might prove helpful.
Luxury brand toothpaste
For example, higher-end oral care brands — vVARDIS — contain safe whitening agents, plus some can help protect your teeth against demineralization and cavities. Many luxury toothpaste brands are also natural (with natural flavoring), organic, and cruelty-free. To visualize the differences between luxury and major brands, read the fine print on each product. vVARDIS, for example, does not use hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth — instead, it contains natural minerals that remove stains. Some uber-luxury lines of toothpaste cost as much as $100 for a single tube!
Costs: $15 to $100 per 2- to 4-ounce tube
Effectiveness: Luxury brands of whitening toothpaste can effectively remove stains from teeth; however, the whitening agents used will determine the level of effectiveness. If used as directed, you’ll see whiter teeth within a few weeks.
Whitening strips tend to be a bit more effective than whitening toothpaste. Strips often contain the same type of or slightly more whitening agents — typically peroxide — and you must leave them on for a longer period, about 30 minutes. The levels of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide in whitening strips are low enough to make them safe to use. However, experts recommend avoiding products that have chlorine dioxide because it can erode tooth enamel.
You can purchase whitening strips anywhere oral care products are sold — drugstores, grocery stores, and department stores. Instructions for most whitening strips advise against brushing your teeth before applying the strips. To use, remove the strip from the backing and place it onto your teeth, aligning the strip’s edge with the gum line and folding the rest over your teeth. Follow the instructions for how long you need to leave the strip on — usually 5 to 45 minutes, depending on the color of your teeth and whitening goals.
Many whitening strips require weekly use, while others are safe enough to use every day. For any “off” days, you can use whitening toothpaste.
Costs: $2.25 per treatment (2 strips per treatment for top and bottom teeth)
Effectiveness: According to packaging claims, whitening strips can whiten teeth as much as 12 shades if used as directed. However, results vary based on your natural teeth color, whether you smoke or chew tobacco, in addition to other factors. The effects of whitening strips tend to last anywhere from a week to a month. You must continue using the strips to maintain results.
Teeth Whitening Gel
You must paint or brush on teeth whitening gel onto your teeth and leave on for about 30 minutes, depending on the color of your teeth and the manufacturer’s instructions. Some brands contain hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, while others contain natural minerals that gently remove stains and polish teeth.
Cost: $25 to $200
Effectiveness: If properly used, you can expect your teeth to lighten between 2 to 10 shades within the first two weeks.
Teeth Whitening Kits
Teeth whitening kits come over-the-counter or professional. OTC products are available at drugstores and department stores, whereas professional teeth whitening kits are only available through a dentist’s office.
Professional teeth whitening kits typically have a higher concentration of whitening agents — carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide — than drugstore brands, so they tend to be more expensive than varieties you buy in drugstores. They also use a custom-made, clear tray to fit your teeth. On the other hand, OTC whitening kits come with standard trays that don’t tend to conform to the shape of your teeth.
To use, pour the appropriate amount of whitening gel or bleach into the whitening tray and press it over the top and bottom teeth. Typical instructions recommend leaving trays on for 2 to 4 hours. Leaving them on longer won’t make your teeth brighter, faster. It will increase teeth sensitivity.
Costs: Drugstore brands around $100, while professional kits range from $100 to $400 (according to GuardianDirect)
Effectiveness: Due to the higher concentrations of whitening agents and the fact they stay on your teeth for longer periods, this type of teeth whitening product tends to be more effective than other types.
In-Office Professional Teeth Whitening
Professional whitening, the most expensive teeth whitening method, takes place in a dentist’s office. In-office teeth whitening requires the use of some peroxide bleach and a curing light that activates the peroxide. There are home teeth whitening trays you can purchase to save money.
Your dentist will use tools to hold your mouth open to expose your teeth, so they stay dry during the procedure, about 1 to 2 hours. They might polish your teeth first, apply the whitener, and finally cure them with a special light. The high bleach concentration causes some people to experience tooth sensitivity during the procedure and “zaps” of sensitivity afterward. A good dentist will review the process with you and disclose all the risks. You will also need to avoid certain foods and beverages for 1 to 2 days following the procedure.
Costs: $650 to $1,000
Effectiveness: This teeth whitening method tends to be the most effective, whitening teeth the most levels in the shortest amount of time.
Featured Photo by Junior REIS on Unsplash