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We all want those glistening white teeth, but the truth is that those smiles aren’t without effort.

Our teeth can undergo intrinsic (inner surface) or extrinsic (outer surface) changes as a result of different factors. While extrinsic stains involve only the discoloration of outer enamel that will be most responsive to whitening treatments, treatment for intrinsic discoloration will require taking a more invasive approach.

In this article, we will go over the available options for whitening your teeth and how much they cost.

How Much Does Each Teeth Whitening Option Cost?

If you are experiencing a need for extrinsic whitening, there are options. Here is a list of whitening options and the costs associated with each:

Professional Teeth Whitening

The most expensive option for removing those enamel stains is to schedule a teeth whitening treatment with a dental professional. In this case, a protective resin is painted onto the gums to protect against irritation. Next, a bleach is applied over the teeth to sit.

Professional teeth whitening treatments can cost around $300 to $600.

Dentist Provided Home Bleaching

Another teeth whitening option is purchasing a whitening treatment from the dentist’s office for self-application at home. This option often utilizes bleaching trays and, while similar to professional whitening, the cost is a bit lower and it can take a few days to weeks to complete.

At-home whitening treatments from the dentist office can cost around $200 to $400 per kit.

Store-Bought Whitening Kits

In the aisles of your local grocery store, or at your fingertips when shopping online, you can find several versions of home whitening treatments. Popular kits include overnight trays, whitening strips, or bleach gel applicators. You can even find LED light and bleach gel kids that connect to your phone, so you can take selfies of the process as you go.

Store-bought whitening kits generally cost less than $100.

Whitening Toothpaste

Using a whitening toothpaste is the best option for whitening your teeth daily and removing stains gently. The safest option for your teeth and gums, whitening toothpaste also promotes health for your enamel and helps fight off cavities. Make sure to use a toothpaste that contains fluoride to help prevent tooth decay as you whiten, and do not brush too hard. Gentle scrubbing will do the trick without damaging your outer enamel.

Whitening toothpaste generally costs under $10.

What If Whitening Treatments Are Ineffective?

Some types of discoloration are unable to be managed with traditional whitening treatments. You also have to take into consideration how bad your staining is. While many whitening treatments can help you achieve several levels of whitening, naturally white teeth will still contain subtle grays and browns. 

Discoloration that is completely unresponsive to extrinsic whitening techniques may be the sign of a bigger issue existing on the inside of your tooth structure. If you find that whitening has not worked, you may need to look deeper into your discoloration cause.

Causes of Tooth Discoloration

Before selecting a whitening treatment, it helps to understand the causes of teeth discoloration. 

Coffee and Tea

Drinking these morning motivators regularly is one of the main causes for staining on teeth. As these beverages pass by your teeth, they can cling to the surface leaving stains. Usually coffee and tea stains will look brown in color.

Wine, Berries and Beets

Like your morning cup of coffee, these colorful items can leave unwanted color on the surface of your teeth. Because wine, berries, and beets are highly saturated in color, you may see an immediate change in the color of your teeth to a purple or red color. Make sure to brush just after consuming these types of things to avoid major staining.


Smoking cigarettes, in addition to posing major health risks is also bad for your teeth. Long term smoking can leave your teeth looking very yellow with the possible addition of brown spotting.


Certain medications, when given to children at a young age, may cause discoloration of teeth through adulthood. Specifically, doxycycline and tetracycline have been known to affect the color of teeth, as well as antipsychotics and antihistamines.

Too Much Fluoride

Yes, white teeth are beautiful. But if the white presents itself in uneven spots on your teeth, it’s likely not because you wanted it there. If you notice this type of discoloration on your teeth, it may be the result of too much fluoride exposure, especially as a child. While fluoride is recommended, you should use a trusted toothpaste containing a safe amount of fluoride each time you brush.

Tooth Decay or Trauma

Remember that intrinsic discoloration we talked about - that inner tooth discoloration, that goes beyond enamel staining? This type of tooth discoloration may have been caused by trauma to the tooth. When a tooth is radically disturbed by movement, pressure, or other outside forces, it can cause damage to the pulp which discolors the tooth from the inside. Additionally, the inner workings of your teeth may become discolored from tooth decay, cavities that have allowed vulnerable parts of your teeth to become exposed. These types of discoloration cannot be managed with normal dental or at-home treatments.

There are options for dealing with intrinsic stains, that may include the professional placement of bleach inside the tooth or in some cases, performing a root canal and clearing out any infected or damaged pulp. If you feel you may have intrinsic discoloration, it is best to contact your dentist for a professional opinion.

How to Prevent Stains on Your Teeth

One great way to get rid of stains is to avoid them from happening in the first place. Here are a few simple ways to deter stains from setting up on your teeth.

Drinking Water

Wash those stain-makers away by drinking plenty of water, especially right after eating or drinking things that are known to cause discoloration.
Drink Through a Straw

If you want to enjoy your favorite beverages without the fear of staining, you can help alleviate it by drinking through a straw. This will help your drink to bypass your front teeth.

Brush Often

Avoid build-up that turns into stains and fight off tooth decay by brushing your teeth twice a day

Use a Whitening Toothpaste

Keep stains away by using a toothpaste that has both whitening power and health promoting ingredients. This will help keep your teeth white and safe from cavities.

Your best defense against discoloration of your teeth is to keep them vibrant not only in color, but in integrity. Protecting your teeth and cleansing them from build-up daily will help reduce staining and cavities that turn to dark spots, holes, and other noticeable issues.

This page was written or reviewed for accuracy by the Twice Team. Learn more about us.