So, your pearly whites are more of a goldy yellow? If that dulling appearance gets you down, take heart. Modern techniques can whiten your coffee-stained chompers and put the razzle-dazzle back in your gleaming grin. Of course, you can't change your tooth color from maize to ivory, but a couple of shades difference is possible—if discoloration was caused by staining and not from the use of antibiotics. Read on to learn about the different ways to whiten your teeth. Consider cost, convenience, and safety, and choose the best method for you.


"Bleaching" is the most effective way to whiten your teeth. Once done, you will probably not need to get a touch-up for a few years. The cost, quality, and safety of various bleaching techniques vary widely. In general, you should be aware that all tooth bleaching might cause tooth sensitivity (especially with very cold food and drinks) during treatment. It is also important to realize that bleaching will not whiten restored teeth. In other words, the color of bonding, laminates, or crowns will be unaffected by the bleaching process.

If price is not an issue and you want to get the whole thing over with in one sitting, the "Power Bleach" is probably the best choice for you. Also known as "Chairside" whitening, this process takes place in your dentist's office and can last anywhere from 30 - 120 minutes. (The length of the procedure depends on your dentist's technique and the color change you want to make.)

While in the dentist's office, you will be fitted for a dental tray—a mouthpiece that covers your teeth (but not your gums). A bleaching gel of highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide, with the active ingredient of carbamide peroxide, will fill the tray. Your teeth will sit in this treatment for 30 - 60 minutes.

With the help of heat and light exposure from the dentist's laser instruments, the gel breaks down. As this occurs, oxygen enters the enamel and the dentin of your teeth and bleaches only the colored substances. The structure of your teeth DOES NOT CHANGE. (It is not like sanding down your teeth, as many fear, nor does it affect the chemical makeup of your teeth.)

The price range for chairside treatment can range from around $390 - $1,200 for both upper and lower arches. The price range is quite broad because there are frequent discounts on the procedure. (It's all the rage now.)