1. Consider Your Oral History
While the goal in whitening teeth is a better appearance, health should not be compromised to achieve it. For some people, teeth bleaching is too harsh. If you are allergic to hydrogen peroxide or have a history of sensitive teeth or gums, try a natural alternative from the health food store. Prepared tooth products may contain silica, bamboo powder or calcium carbonate. Alternatively, whitening toothpaste is safe to use.
If you have another oral condition that might interfere with at-home treatments, such as an improper bite or malocclusion, you may need to steer clear of whitening strips or tray systems that use a mouth guard. Choose from natural, brush-on systems or professional brightening by a dentist.
If you have dental work or implants, consult a dentist before choosing a brightening system. Decide against teeth whitening if you are under age 16, pregnant, breastfeeding or have gum disease or cavities.
2. Add up Your Budget
Professional, peroxide-based bleaching costs the most because you are also paying for a dentist’s time and professional care. The good news is that a professional system may require the fewest treatments, usually from one to five.
At-home tooth whitening costs far less per application but requires many more of them, usually at least 28. Strips, gels and trays represent a substantial yet affordable investment. Natural alternatives are comparable or slightly less in price. Special toothpastes cost the least but show the mildest results.
3. Calculate Your Free Time
People who are always in a hurry or dislike the idea of multiple, twice-daily treatments will appreciate professional applications. These may last from 30 to 60 minutes at a time. When the short series or single visit is over, you’re good to go for another 4 to 6 months.
Those who prefer to trade cost savings for a little more effort can expect to spend more time whitening. Strips, gels or mouth guards may need two applications daily for 14 days or more. The products remain on the teeth for 30 minutes to overnight, depending on the system. Natural brighteners and stain-removing toothpastes may require minimal usage time but more frequent applications.