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Teeth whitening methods to enhance your smile

Could your smile use some extra sparkle? It's not uncommon for our teeth to lose their pearly luster and become discolored over time. Common causes include consuming dark-colored beverages and foods, aging, smoking and health-related issues. As we head into the holiday season and a new year, now is the perfect time to consider teeth whitening options to help you look and feel your best.

Teeth whitening is a non-invasive, fast-acting method to enhance your smile in about an hour or less. Whitening products contain bleach in varying concentrations that work to break down stains and make your teeth appear brighter. Below are three popular treatment options.

1. In-office whitening treatments

Treatment in your dentist's office is usually the fastest, most effective option. Treatment is customized to your needs, and you can work with your dental provider to select your shade preference. In-office treatments use a higher concentration of bleaching material than other methods, which may result in a shorter treatment time and longer lasting results. This is the most expensive of the three options, with a national average cost of $650 per visit.

2. Professional at-home whitening treatments

With this option, you purchase a professionally dispensed take-home kit from your dentist's office, along with instructions for use in the convenience of your home. You apply whitening product to your teeth using custom-made trays that resemble mouth guards. The treatment may include a slightly lower concentration of bleach and slightly longer duration than you would experience during an in-office treatment. Costs for professional at-home teeth whitening kits range from around $100 to $400.

3. Over-the-counter teeth whitening products

Many whitening strips or trays are available to purchase at most convenience and drug stores. Unlike the options above, these products are not customized to your teeth and use a lower concentration of whitening product. This is the least expensive option with costs ranging from $20 to $100.

Other factors to consider

While most people enjoy noticeable results after a single treatment with professional in-office whitening, keep in mind that teeth whitening is not permanent and results can vary by individual, depending on personal preference and initial level of discoloration. Whitening procedures work best on natural teeth and won't alter the color of crowns, fillings, veneers or other dental work.

Give yourself the gift of a healthy bright smile this season. For optimal results, talk to your dentist about the most effective teeth whitening option for you. Remember that your CareCredit credit card provides a convenient way to pay for out-of-pocket dental expenses. Use the Acceptance Locator to find a nearby dental provider that accepts CareCredit.

CareCredit provides information solely for your convenience. Please always consult with a physician on any medical decisions.

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