$300-$500 To Bleach Your Teeth; Not Necessarily

It’s important to know what kind of stain you have before you bleach your teeth in order to save lots of money.

There’s nothing like covering your mouth in horror after a kid comes right out and says, “Your teeth are yellow!” At your next dental visit, you inquire about teeth whitening and you’re told it costs $400 to customize your trays and for a few syringes of bleach, in which, you have to take home to do yourself. Most patients are disappointed when there’s no quick magic bullet and are discouraged about the price, which leaves many to “Think about it.” They may even try an over the counter bleaching system only to be discouraged at the less than dramatic results.

I’m going to help you whiten your teeth, at a price you can afford, but first we should discuss both external and internal yellowing.

Extrinsic or external stain is when your enamel is yellowed due to stain from beverages, foods, or smoking. Commercial whitening toothpastes are marketing scams and I never recommend them. Yes, whitening toothpaste may remove surface stain, but they do so with aggressive abrasives, which thin your enamel (the only white part of your teeth) ironically making your teeth yellower over time by exposing the dentin beneath it. You want to maintain healthy enamel as much as you can as it prevents decay and sensitivity, while preserving tooth color.

Safe Ways to Remove External Stain

  • After enamel staining foods or beverages, swish with water. If you’re not certain what foods and beverages stain, think of whatever can actually stain or dye fabric, like tea or wine, and beats or blueberries. Better yet, if you’re drinking something like iced tea, always use a straw.
  • Use battery brushes with oscillating and rotating heads. The battery brush can both prevent stain when used twice a day and can remove light stain. I recommend Oral-B CrossAction power brush because it can prevent stain and at the same time remove stain at a reasonable price. Avoid brushing immediately after the stain culprit, as you can merely brush for example the purple from blueberries into the enamel along with its acidity. This is where swishing with water comes in.
  • Bentonite clay is a natural tooth polish by absorbing stain, not by abrading stain. You can make your own paste by adding a little water to the powder or you can purchase Redmond Earthpaste.
  • Activated charcoal is a great way to absorb stain. If you can’t find bulk charcoal powder, I open up tablets and pour the charcoal out of the capsules. You can then add some water and smear it on your teeth allowing it to penetrate the stain for at least 5 minutes. Better yet, if you have bleaching trays, or I use my night guard, you can smear the paste into the front portion of the trays, and wear it for ten minutes or so. You may also want to try a charcoal toothpaste I love because it also has Coconut oil, Cali White.


Click on image to purchase paste

Click image to purchase replacement heads for your Oral-B CrossAction

Prevent Internal Yellowing of Teeth

Intrinsic yellowing comes from within the tooth when the actual shade has darkened after all surface stain is removed. The only way to change tooth color is to bleach. However, you can prevent yellowing by following these tips:

  • Hydration is crucial to anti-aging for your whole body, and especially for teeth, Dehydration will yellow teeth, so drink lots of water.
  • Nose breathing is crucial to a moist mouth and a moist mouth will prevent your teeth from yellowing. I have a patient  where her teeth are two different colors. The top edges of her teeth are yellow and the portion closest to the gums are nice and white. The way she sleeps at night her mouth breathing attaches her lips to half of her teeth which provides enough moisture while the other half is exposed to dry air. Needless to say, when she smiles, her teeth are striped.
  • Foods and drinks can actually absorb into the enamel, eventually discoloring the shade of your teeth, so again, swish with water after eating or drinking staining foods.
  • Avoid thinning your enamel with abrasive toothpastes.
  • Prevent abfractions and recession due to bruxism (clenching or grinding) which can yellow the gum line portion of your teeth. See my blog, When your Dentist Recommends a Night Guard.

*Note: Your teeth can be discolored if it’s been a long time since you’ve had a teeth cleaning. Buildup on your teeth can appear anywhere from yellow to brown to gray. After you have your teeth cleaned and you’re still unhappy with the color, then you can decide to bleach. It’s always best to bleach your teeth after a visit to your hygienist, even if you’re on a regular schedule, so you can see the true shade of your clean teeth.

After you’re certain you’ve done all you can to remove surface stain and your teeth are still yellow you can try bleaching your teeth. It’s very important though, some time along the line, you’ve been told by your dentist you’re a candidate for teeth whitening as there are some conditions which are not reversible by bleaching. Even though commercial tooth whitening pastes may contain some peroxide, there’s not enough to effect the true shade of the teeth.

Over the counter bleaching systems have just enough peroxide in them to make a difference, but they take longer than concentrated professional bleach to reach results. The shorter amount of time you can bleach, the better, as peroxide will destroy the bacterial flora in your mouth, as it kills bad bacteria it also wipes out the good, which is needed to prevent decay, gum disease, and sensitivity. I personally, only bleach a couple times a year, for at the most, four-five days in a row as I am all  too aware of negative oral health consequences. On another personal note, I believe some people, many times high profile, are over bleaching, which falsely sets the bar to a phony level of white teeth.

The good news is, you can now purchase professional strength bleaching syringes and trays online, for a crazy low price. Dental offices have been offering Opalescence for years and it’s what I personally use.

Click on image to purchase teeth whitening

The big sell by your dentist could be the customized trays, which are cut below the gum. It’s important to avoid the bleach on your gums as much as possible, but you don’t need custom trays because with most trays you can easily trim the edges away from the gums yourself.

Remember, the shorter duration of bleaching the better, and the highest strength peroxide can achieve this. I use 35%, however, if you have never bleached before I would try 20% peroxide to begin with and see if you’re sensitive. You can increase the percentage to 35% when you’re ready, but if you become sensitive, back off a day, and try again. Once you stop the bleaching, your teeth should naturally restore with the use of a natural toothpaste, See my blog The Truthpaste of Toothpaste and enjoy your healthy looking teeth.

Click image to order your teeth whitening kit with light. The light can really speed up the bleaching. I was given one as a gift and I’m very happy with it.


*This blog contains affiliate links for products Ask My Hygienist carefully recommends based on professional experience or personal use. These suggestions are to assist you in your quest for better oral health, and in turn, you're assisting our blog with the small commission we receive from your purchase.

Author: Cari

Cari has been a practicing dental hygienist for over 30 years. She received her degree with honors and was selected for a rare internship at Eastman Dental School, Rochester, NY. She then went on to receive a BS in Social Work from Nazareth College, cum laude. She has practiced in a variety of offices in Santa Fe for almost 25 years, with dental hygiene experience that has spanned from public health to holistic private practice, to specializing in dental phobic patients. Her commitment to research with a life-long desire to learn is combined with her genuine drive to provide patients with a whole health knowledge base. Cari also brings her experience as a published writer to her role as an oral health blogger. She has written blogs and web pages for Beyond Borders Dental in her role as Director of Dental Relations and Education.

2 thoughts on “$300-$500 To Bleach Your Teeth; Not Necessarily”

    1. I am so happy you found this post about bleaching your teeth helpful. Hopefully, you are now on your way to healthier teeth. Let me know what you’re interested in for blog topics, there’s the email option on the sidebar, “contact us with your blog post suggestions.” With appreciation, Cari

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