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Fast teeth whitening comes at a price

The only ADA-recommended teeth-whitening treatments are those that are supervised by a dentist. There are two options: in-office teeth whitening that uses light therapy to speed up the bleaching process or at-home whitening that consists of a custom-fit mouth tray and syringes filled with bleaching gel. Both options produce the greatest whitening results available. They are also the safest because they require the approval of your dentist after an oral exam.

Professional in-office teeth whitening (Est. $500 to $800) produces the fastest results -- usually within an hour. But it comes at a price. Not only is the procedure expensive, but it can also be painful. We found several user reviews that complain about severe sensitivity. Some say the dramatic results (up to 10 shades lighter) are worth the discomfort, but others say the pain is extreme and not comparable to the results. 

However, the newest and most cutting-edge teeth-whitening technology, such as Philips's new Zoom WhiteSpeed lamp (Est. $400 to $1000) has been designed to minimize sensitivity by emitting less irritating heat and using a system that releases peroxide more gradually. Users say this treatment is virtually pain-free.

Research and testing have shown professional at-home whitening (Est. $200 to $600) to be just as effective as in-office procedures, but it takes longer to see the results. Treatment lasts up to two weeks and is typically gentler than in-office bleaching. Several users notice no sensitivity issues at all, while others say the pain is minimal at most. If sensitivity is a concern, your dentist can prescribe a lower dosage of bleaching solution. Furthermore, the trays are custom-built to your teeth to ensure comfort and maximum contact with the bleaching solution. After the initial cost of creating a custom mouth tray, follow-up treatments are much more affordable (Est. $50 for prefilled whitening syringes).

All-natural teeth-whitening products are essentially nonexistent at this point, but if you want to stay away from artificial teeth-whitening methods, there are a few lifestyle changes you can make to keep your teeth white. Experts at Discovery Health say eating more fruits, vegetables and cheese can contribute to a healthier smile. You can also mix baking soda and lemon juice into a paste to remove surface stains from your teeth.

We recommend professional at-home teeth whitening as the best way to whiten your teeth because it is more affordable than in-office treatments, and it produces the same results with a lot less sensitivity.

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