We asked New York City orthodontist and whitening specialist Dr. Jacqueline Goodling to fill us in on the best tooth-brightening options around, from in-office procedures to at-home treatments.
1. Professional in-office whitening: Services such as Zoom! or BriteSmile are the fastest-working protocols. A whitening agent (usually hydrogen peroxide) is applied to teeth, then activated by heated light.Treatment is a single session.
2. Dentist-supervised custom-fitted mouth trays are another pro option. Whitening gel is applied to teeth, and held in place by the tray for a prescribed amount of time. Results are the same as in-office treatments, they just take longer, since light is not used. Cost of pro treatments: From about $300 to $900.
3. At-home options: Goodling’s patients report good results with products like Crest Whitestrips and Rembrandt Form-Fit Whitening Strips. “It’s important to finish the treatment cycle to get maximum results.” Cost: $16 to $50.
4. Pro vs. OTC: “Results always vary, but we generally see a considerable difference between OTC whitening and professional whitening,” Dr. Goodling says. “Results from professional whitening can be up to five shades brighter than OTC whitening.”
6. Maintenance: Teeth are most susceptible to staining in the two weeks following treatment, so avoid stain-makers such as coffee, red wine, berries, tomato sauce and balsamic vinegar. Drinking through a straw can help offset the effects.