As an avid coffee drinker and occasional red wine drinker, I've used teeth bleaching for years. Unfortunately, I lost my teeth trays some time ago and thus had to start the search all over again for whitening options. Here's the skinny on glowing teeth without breaking the bank (especially if you don't have a dental plan - although, I'm not sure most would cover whitening):
- Whitening strips. I opted for the professional whitening strips (as opposed to those at the drug store) which cost about $100 for a 30 day package. Personally, I found them messy, annoying to use with minimal results. I stopped half way through with a box full of these strips left. I suppose if you've never used traditional teeth bleach, you might find the effects noticeable, but too lengthy of a process for me.
- In office whitening systems. I found a dental clinic offering ZOOM in-office system for $299, which has come down dramatically from it's $600+ price tag some years ago. I also found some clinics quoting $1,200 plus for in office whitening so be diligent in shopping around. If you opt for this option or similar in-office systems, be prepared to have your teeth cleaned first (I called around and this cost can vary from $200 - a whopping $600). Also be prepared for a great deal of pain (although short-term) if you have sensitive teeth. The dental office I used also sent me home with enough touch up gel for many more applications plus, customized teeth trays.
- Take home options. If the pain and cost of in-office sessions have you questioning a brighter smile, shop around for custom fitted trays and take home gels. I highly recommend this option over the store bought trays as you likely don't want the harmful bleach leaking out into your system and you'll have whiter teeth quicker.
- Bleach doesn't work on stains. Lastly, I learned that whitening systems are not aimed at treating stains. So, your least costly and pain free solution might be to drop in for a quick polish touch-up at your dentist's office.