Are you wanting to brighten and reinvigorate your smile? If so, there are plenty of options available for you to achieve the results of your dreams. Many of our daily habits, such as coffee drinking, stain the teeth. Usually, removing dirt and debris through brushing and flossing are enough to maintain oral health. However, discoloration and stains can taint your smile and your confidence. To fix this, your dentist may recommend undergoing a teeth whitening treatment. Your first question may be, “But for what cost?”.

First, it is important to understand two differing terms: bleaching versus whitening. Bleaching is a procedure performed by a dental professional in a clinical setting. The products used in the bleaching process contain bleach, typically made with either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Additionally, bleaching has the ability to change the color of the teeth beyond their natural capacity. Whitening, on the other hand, is a process by which a tooth’s natural surface color is restored. This is done by using products that remove debris, cleaning the surface of the teeth. As you can probably guess, bleaching is much more costly than whitening.

Teeth whitening in a dental office can vary in cost. It is the most common and popular cosmetic dental procedure, which is also factored in during cost analysis. The professional grade of the agents used, along with immediate results and the promise of personalized, experienced care by a dental professional make this option a bit on the pricier side. In the United States, the average cost can be anywhere between $450 and $650 per session, depending on where you live. With this option, you are paying to save time, produce quick results, and have a safety and quality guarantee.

For those with a smaller budget but just as much drive to improve their smile, take-home options are also available, both from your dentist and over-the-counter. Depending on the quality, these will also vary in cost. Take-home trays recommended by a dentist and fitted to your unique mouth, for example, can cost an average $400. However, over-the-counter options can range anywhere from $30 for quick-use strips to $100 for bleaching trays. While these are certainly more cost-effective, it’s important to consider the disadvantages and risks of completing this process on your own. The chemical agents in cheaper whitening tools can be more harsh and harmful to the teeth and gums, and the results can be entirely unpredictable. While some may experience results after a few uses, others may not. Plus, trying an in-home method always runs the risk of uneven, botched results, with yellow or brown lines appearing in the crevasses between the teeth or around the edges, where the strip was not applied properly.