Teeth Whitening

How To Get A Brighter, Whiter Smile


ALL bleaching systems, from over the counter strips to in-office bleaching, use hydrogen peroxide as their active ingredient. (Laser whitening is pure marketing, peroxide produces the entire effect.) The only difference is the concentration of peroxide in the system and how it is applied. Whitening will typically fade so that within 9 months to a year, your teeth will return to their initial shade. The agent must be applied every 3-4 months to maintain the whitening effect.

Note that results from teeth whitening are often moderate; only 10% of patients get an immediate dramatic result. The true benefit of teeth whitening is long-term maintenance of whiteness. If bleach is applied every 4 months starting age 30, teeth WILL be dramatically whiter at age 50.

At-home bleaching with precisely fitting trays is the only method we recommend. Cost for the entire system is $199, which includes a years supply of whitening. (Replacement agent can be purchased for our cost of $22.00). Since this system can be used indefinitely, repeated charges of a dentist applied whitening system are not incurred.

Note: Porcelain veneers are the only dependable method for true “Hollywood White” immediate results. Unfortunately, porcelain veneers involve irreversibly stripping enamel prior to placement. See complete information under the TREATMENTS heading at the top of the homepage.

METHOD Effect 0-10 Positives Negatives
Whitening toothpaste 0 None Useless
Whitening strips 2 Convenience More expensive than tray bleaching over time
At-home tray bleaching 5 Practicality; best overall Initial $199 expense
Porcelain Veneers 9-10 Superb Immediate Result $979/Veneer: Irreversibly alters teeth


Over many years Clinical Research Associates (CRA) have studied the effect of light and heat on bleaching. The latest of their studies was published in the most recent CRA Newsletter (March 2003), in which they reported on the characteristics of several in-office bleaching systems using light. The following quote includes part of the CRA conclusions from that newsletter: “Use of lights according to the manufacturer’s directions did not improve whitening for any system tested.” Systems tested in the CRA study were: LaserSmile, LumaArch, Niveous, Opalescence Xtra Boost, PolaOffice, Rembrandt 1 Hour Smile-Whitening Program, and Zoom. Tests on BriteSmile have not yet been completed. In these studies, light use did not speed or increase the bleaching over the use of bleaching chemicals alone; The slight difference in tooth color observed as a result of bleaching with lights and hydrogen peroxide versus bleaching with hydrogen peroxide alone appears to be temporary and caused by the light’s dehydration and heating of the teeth. The light might increase the whitening capability a few percentage points but it really isn’t even enough to notice. After a few days to weeks, there appears to be no significant shade difference between teeth bleached with lights and those bleached without lights. Although research varies as to the effectiveness of bleaching using lights, many of the lights used for in-office bleaching appear to be primarily a psychological factor for the patient.[8]