Updated: December 2017

Tooth Whitening Reviews and Buying Guide:

The latest marketing craze for improving your looks is "make your teeth as white as possible". On the TV show "Extreme Makeover", they use the Zoom Tooth Whitening Gels. Zoom is a bleaching gel and the Zoom tooth whitening system whitens teeth an average of six shades in just 3 nights. Professionally made whitening trays are required to use with the Zoom kit. Another way to whiten teeth is through professional bleaching which requires visiting a dentist, often called chair-side bleaching. The procedure can usually be done in just 1 dental visit at your dentist or at whitening centers like Britesmile or Zoom. Chair-side bleaching is done in 1 of 2 ways. The dentist uses a very powerful bleaching agent alone or in combination with a light/laser. The procedure takes about 1 1/2 hours and gives you immediate results. Many of these procedures can cost hundreds of dollars so we turned to the over the counter tooth whitening systems for home use to see what they produce in terms of results.

Tooth whitening at home can be a very inexpensive way to get those white teeth you always wanted. My teeth are somewhere between white and yellow, although they rarely stay white long after I've had a tooth cleaning at the dentist. Not sure if it's my diet or something else that would cause my teeth to go yellowish so fast. Even my daughter has mentioned to me - "dad, why are your teeth yellow". You never want to hear that as a parent, so I decided to look into the tooth whitening strips you can use at home. A few of my friends had used them and I know they mentioned they are easy to use and the results were fairly positive. Some people prefer the tooth whitening gel that goes into the trays and you let that soak into your teeth. For those with sensitive teeth, all or some of the teeth whitener products could cause you issues. We found lots of tooth whitener reviews online at websites like Epinions, Lovetoknow.com, Teethwhiteningreviews.com, and Amazon.com. There were a few more in depth reviews done with head to head comparisons. One was done on Slate.com by Beth Stevenson - she tested gels and strips and found that the strips were by the far the best choice. Consumer Reports did a recent test on teeth whiteners - again pitting the gel trays versus the whitening strips and they also included a light activated kit in the bunch. Strips are the clear winner for at home whitening. It appears that trays for the gel products just don't fit everyone correctly and the gel often runs over the side and down your throat (that sounds nasty). Although the results for home whiteners may not be as profound as those you get done at the dentist office, they can still be effective. You can browse the top selling tooth whitening products online here.

Tooth Whitening Cost:

Just how much does it cost to have your teeth whitened? It all depends on the method and where it gets done. Let's start with the most expensive of the bunch - laser teeth whitening. This in office tooth whitening procedure can cost between $500 and $2000. Some dentists refer to it as "power bleaching" and it can be done in 90 minutes or so. They can concentrate on just the teeth that need and avoid those sensitive teeth or gum areas in your mouth. The results are almost instant and those that have had it done say it's very effective. BriteSmile is similar to the laser whitening, although they use a blue light instead of the heated laser that Zoom uses. The laser in these teeth whitening procedures doesn't actually make the teeth whiter, but it does help the gel activate the tooth whitening. Chair-side bleaching is the fastest and the most expensive ($400-$600 per session). The take-home bleaching kits average around $300 from the dentist. Common side effects of teeth whitening is increased sensitivity to hot and cold, especially while you are using the bleach and 1-2 days afterwards. Your new whitened teeth should last 6 months to a year. The white strips from manufacturers like Crest, Listerine, Aquafresh, and Target cost about $20 to $50 and vary in terms of frequency used and duration.

Best Tooth Whiteners:

RECOMMENDED - The #1 seller on Amazon and backed by reports in consumer magazines is Crest Whitestrips Supreme Professional Strength 84 strips which sells for about $50. You get 42 strips for your lower teeth and 42 for the upper. The idea is to use the strips for about 30 minutes - twice a day for three weeks time. The owner comments on the Crest Whitestrips are things like "easy to use", "comfortable" and "effective at whitening". The Supreme strips are better than the Premium ones from Crest and they will cost a bit more. Most manufacturers note that the tooth whitening strips are only good for natural teeth - they will not work on dentures, veneers, crowns, caps, or fillings. The most common complaint when using these is the discomfort and potential sensitivity to your teeth or gums. That being said, most users don't have any side effects after a few days use. I used this product myself and I had a few spots that were sensitive the first 2 days and then it disappeared. Overall the results were better than I had expected and something I would recommend for those with slightly yellow teeth. I am not a smoker or drinker of tea or coffee. I tend to drink soda (about 12 ounces a day), so the staining and yellowing of my teeth definitely improved over the 3 weeks. Let's hope I can keep them as white as possible without having to repeat this process again. View all the most popular teeth whiteners online here.

Professional tooth whitening versus at home products:

As we mentioned above, the price for professional tooth whitening can be $500 or more per visit while the home tooth whitening strips and paints are much less expensive. Recent research has shown that the white strips can be just as effective as the costly dental tooth whitening procedures. No matter which method you decide on, the final "whiteness" results will largely depend on what color your teeth were to begin with. More than one session may be needed to achieve your desired level of "whiteness". Brown or yellow teeth (from smoking, coffee and tea) tend to get whiter, but results are not guaranteed. We suggest starting with the the at home systems first and if you can maintain the daily usage requirements, then stick with it. If you are not good at remembering to use your daily strips or gels, then perhaps the one visit with your dentist would be worth money to not have to worry about the daily routine. The Zoom Weekender product (with the 6% hydrogen Peroxide gel solution) costs about $55.99 for 1 kit.

Is Tooth Whitening covered by dental insurance?

99% of all dental insurance does not cover cosmetic procedures and tooth whitening, so the cost will come straight out of your pocket if you want white teeth.