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Everything You Need to Know About Tooth Whitening

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Are your teeth as white as you’d like them to be? If not, consider booking an appointment with your dental hygienist to get your smile a spring cleaning. And if you want a smile that really sparkles, schedule a tooth whitening treatment with your dentist.

The Best Teeth Whitening Treatments

You may be able to brighten your teeth by a shade or two using over-the-counter (OTC) products, but a professional whitening treatment typically provides greater results. Talk to your dentist to see which type of treatment is best for you. There are three options to choose from:

In Office: Your dentist applies a peroxide gel to your teeth, and then activates the solution via a high-intensity light. This takes about an hour, and depending on the condition of your teeth, the sensitivity of your gums, and your desired results you may need more than one appointment to complete the treatment. Average cost is $450-$600.

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At Home: Your dentist will custom-fit a set of “whitening trays,” (flexible molds which you’ll place over your teeth) or will provide you with a kit that contains the trays and a peroxide gel. The whitening product used is weaker than the one utilized in the dentist’s office, but more powerful than an over-the-counter product. Typically, you’ll wear the trays for 4-8 hours daily over the course of ten days. Average cost is $400-$500.

Over-The-Counter: You can just choose a whitening kit or strips from the drugstore. These products use hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide to brighten your teeth. The products you purchase over the counter will be weaker than ones intended for professional use, as exposure to high strength peroxide can damage your gums (your dentist will protect your gums with a shield or gel when doing a whitening treatment). The best way to use OTC products is after you’ve had a dental cleaning – otherwise you’ll just be brightening up your dental plaque and tartar. Check with your hygienist for product recommendations, and how long you should wait after the cleaning before using a whitening treatment.

Natural: You can also try natural tooth whitening practices. While these will definitely not give you the whitening boost you’ll get from peroxide, eating crunchy fruits and vegetables can help to keep teeth white and may lift some light stains. And chewing sugar-free gum helps promote saliva production, essential for clean and healthy teeth and gums.

Does Dental Insurance Cover Whitening?

Dental insurance typically does not provide coverage for any cosmetic treatments such as whitening. But dental savings plans, an alternative to traditional dental insurance, often do provide an average discount of 20% off professional whitening treatments from a nationwide network of dentists.

Dental savings plans also provide savings of 10-60% on a wide variety of preventive dental care —including cleanings, checkups and x-rays—and restorative treatments. Dental savings plans typically can be used within 72 hours of purchase or less (and many plans activate within 24 hours).

Find out more about dental savings plans at DentalPlans.com.

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