Teeth Whitening

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Teeth Whitening: aka Tooth Whitening, Reduce Discoloration, Teeth Brightening, Cosmetic Dentistry, Laser Teeth Whitening


What is it?


Teeth Whitening or the whitening of teeth is a procedure often performed for patients that want to improve the brightness of their smiles. Tooth whitening can be performed for several reasons. It often helps reduce discoloration and staining that occurs from years of drinking too much coffee or tea, or from smoking cigarettes. Some patients also experience discoloration because of medications they took as children or as adults.


The Operation


There are many different ways to whiten teeth. Bleaching teeth and laser whitening teeth are two common ways to whiten teeth. Many teeth whitening procedures suggest they can whiten teeth several shades, but most will whiten teeth just one, two or three shades and usually this is enough to make a difference in a person’s smile.


One of the more popular tools for assessing whiteness is the vista guide for teeth whitening. A dentist may use this to divide your natural tooth color into four shades labeled A-D. There are five levels of darkness in these systems that vary from reddish brown to reddish gray.


The simplest procedure for many is to use a gel tray. Using this procedure you fill a tray at home with a special gel that you may use nightly to change the shade of your teeth several shades, up to five shades. This procedure may require up to 50 hours of time, so you may wear the tray nightly for up to a week or so.


The laser procedure is also very popular and the results may last for up to a year and a half. This procedure only takes from two to three hours in a dentist’s office. You can lighten teeth as light as you want them to. Yet another similar procedure, called the BriteSmile procedure, is only mildly uncomfortable and also takes about 2 hours. It is very affordable, more so than laser whitening and many believe that it provides superior results.



Alternatives to Surgery


A home bleaching kit is a pretty standard alternative to surgery. You can brighten your smile from the safety and comfort of your home. Many people find this the most affordable alternative to veneers. You can purchase a teeth whitening kit from your dentist for an affordable price with a custom designed kit, or you can buy your custom tooth whitening kit with a custom tray online.


It certainly helps to have a customized tray so you can apply the exactly correct amount of whitener to your teeth, otherwise you may find it difficult to achieve the uniform appearance you want.


If you are feeling somewhat braver you might undergo the Bright Smile procedure or the laser procedure. This isn’t actual surgery, but because it is performed under the care of your dentist many people consider this a form of outpatient surgery. The procedure usually lasts about 2 hours, sometimes 3 hours, and most people can go about their business afterwards.


Before the Operation


You should brush your teeth like normal. If you plan to use a home kit make sure you do not intend to go anywhere where you will drink staining fluids following your tooth whitening procedure so the medication has a chance to set in and work.


After the Operation- At Home


Once home most people do not have to take any further precautions to protect their teeth other than to make sure they do not do anything to damage their teeth. Most people can go back to work the same day if they choose to.


Possible Complications


The biggest risk many associate with tooth whitening procedures is the sensitivity associated with using cosmetic dental products. Fortunately there are several over-the-counter products that can help with this. A dentist can also prescribe a product to help with extreme sensitivity. Usually laser teeth whitening does not cause the same sensitivity as traditional tooth whitening procedures, so if this is a concern you might opt for modern tooth whitening services even though they are more expensive.


General Advice


These days just about anyone can opt to have their teeth whitened for a fee. Most people find the simple act of whitening their teeth dramatically improves their outlook on life, not to mention their smile. Most of the time dental insurance does not cover teeth whitening procedures because they are cosmetic in nature even when they are caused by medical procedures.


Many people find they can purchase store-bought or over-the-counter products for less than $100 in the US and try them at home. Those products provided by a dentist are much stronger than the ones purchased at a store, however even the ones at stores provide some lightening benefits.


Estimated Cost for Teeth Whitening


The costs associated with teeth whitening vary from state to state and country to country.


Here are some overviews of the different types of teeth whitening procedures and their costs:



Britesmile teeth whitening - this is an in-office procedure that uses a special light combined with a tooth whitening gel produce. An in-house procedure, this product can be used with a home whitening kit to maximize the result. There is usually a dramatic shift in color change of the teeth. This is the middle ground option for most people at about $500 to $600.


Laser tooth bleaching - this also produces a dramatic difference in tooth color. A see-through bleach gel is placed on the teeth and a laser beam light is then applied to the teeth to activate certain crystals that absorb energy from the light to penetrate the teeth and make them whiter. This can lighten teeth by as much as eight times, but is also the most expensive option at around $1000 to start in most clinics.


Tray teeth bleaching - this produces a less dramatic effect but is still very effective for lightening teeth if your stains consist of mostly surface stains or if you just want touch ups. It is also the least expensive option, as you can buy home bleaching trays for as little as $100.


Country Cost
USA $100-$1100
Brazil $200-$300
Costa Rica $125-400
South Africa $200-800
Thailand $210-$350

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