Your Quick Teeth-Whitening Handbook

Reveal picture-perfect pearly whites with a treatment designed to match whatever level of commitment you’re looking for. (If only dating were so easy).* 

One-Night Stand

Brush as usual with a paste that has fluoride and hydrogen peroxide for results in about one week. Or, Luster NOW! Instant Whitening Toothpaste does the job right away, keeping teeth bright for four hours afterwards.  

Commitment: Low maintenance for as little as $5 to $10

Payoff: The instant gratification is cheap and exciting, but don’t expect it to last long. 

Dinner and a Movie 

At-home trays and strips are more effective than paint-on gels, which are often quickly diluted by saliva. Cons: Slippery strips and ill-fitting trays can leak peroxide, irritating the gums. 

Commitment: Dull surface stains in one hour with Crest 3D White 1 Hour Express Whitestrips; others must be applied daily for up to two weeks. $25 to $50 

Payoff: Can lighten teeth for up to three months 

Short-Term Fling 

Want a little more action without going all the way? Invest in a self-administered system like the GO SMiLE Whitening Light, which uses pro-like light technology to activate the gel’s hydrogen peroxide. 

Commitment: 30 minutes every two weeks; between $100 and $200

Payoff: You’ll notice a difference after one session, but you have to keep it up. 

In a Relationship 

In-office bleaching (offered by many local dentists) is the most powerful, longest-lasting whitening solution. Philips Zoom uses stronger light and higher concentrations of peroxide than home options. Sensitivity can still occur, but this is the quickest way to transform teeth. 

Commitment: One 30- to 60-minute session; may need several appointments (consultation, cleaning) and treatments  once a year. $500 to $700

Payoff: Dramatic results after the first visit.

*Seek a dentist’s approval before whitening. Skip DIY if your teeth are sensitive to cold; you have fillings or crowns on your front teeth; or your enamel is grayish (not yellow).