How White Can My Teeth Get?

A change of just two or three shades can make a noticeable difference in almost anyone's smile. The goal should be to achieve your individual optimum whiteness while still looking natural.

How much your teeth can be whitened depends on many factors — some of which you can control (such as whether to use a bleaching or non-bleaching method, or the percent of active ingredient in a whitener), and some that you can't (such as your natural tooth color or how well your teeth respond to whitening).

  • A light-activated whitening session, sometimes called chairside bleaching, can cost $500 or more and results in instantly and often dramatically whiter teeth
  • A custom mouthpiece created by your dentist for in-home bleaching costs around $300, and you typically wear it several hours a day or overnight for two weeks
  • Whitening products available in your drugstore or retail store may contain much lower concentrations of active ingredients than products from the dentist. Lower concentrations may produce less dramatic results. Whitening toothpastes also help to remove stains and maintain newly whitened teeth at very little cost

Most whitening is not permanent

Non-smokers who don't drink coffee or tea often see little or no change of tooth color after a bleaching procedure for up to five years. Your own long-term results will depend on your habits and the specific foods you eat. If, like many people, you find it hard to completely eliminate coffee, tea, cola, red wine and other stain-causing items from your diet, you may require a touch-up treatment at regular intervals.

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