Walking around New York City it seems like people are smiling more. It's the one-two combination of spring being just around the corner which heightens everybody's mood, plus the loosened mask mandates which means we can actually SEE each other smile again.
When it comes to your smile, your teeth are the main character. And that's why teeth whitening is one of the most popular requests at a dentist office. However, if you suffer from tooth sensitivity just the thought of any kind of whitening may sound like torture.
Which begs the question - is expensive, painful teeth whitening the only option that's out there for those of us with sensitive teeth? Our clinicians unpack what you can do to get the shade of white you're excited for, AND in a way that won't cause you to hemorrhage benjis. Let's get into it.
Teeth whitening treatment cost - depends on the treatment type
Before we get into the right type of treatment for sensitive teeth we'll lay out the field of options for professional teeth whitening you'll encounter. If you're going the professional whitening route (i.e. working with your dentist to whiten your teeth), there are two types of whitening:
- In-Office whitening
- Custom-made trays
In-office whitening is offered by brands like Philips Zoom Whitening, Pola White, Kor, and Opalescence. These brands market the "whitening in one appointment" approach where you can finish your treatment with one session in the chair. This means you only have to sit in the chair for a few hours, with your mouth open, for your dentist to complete your whitening treatment.
The other option is custom-made trays. These trays are made from a mold or 3D scan of your teeth and are like extremely flexible clear aligners. You place a rice-size grain of whitening agent gel in the trays and wear them at home. One "session" will require multiple syringes of the gel to help you reach your goal over the course of a few weeks.
Both options are great for whitening your teeth! In-office whitening is "faster" in that your teeth will look whiter after one session at the dentist … but that one session will last close to three hours where you sit in a chair with your mouth open. Sadly the bright white effect will start to fade as soon as you walk out of the office because part of the whiteness comes from your teeth being dehydrated (sitting for hours with your mouth open can do that).
And worst of all, in-office whitening has a very high risk of causing severe tooth sensitivity.
Custom-trays may take a few weeks for you to reach your desired shade but are much more comfortable for your teeth and can be customized to help you avoid tooth sensitivity.
If you're still on the fence about professional custom trays to whiten sensitive teeth, let's talk through the cost comparison. This might help you make up your mind ;)
Average cost of teeth whitening in NYC with a dentist
There is no one price for professional whitening. Between the two types there is a big range of what you might pay for each session in NYC:
- In-Office whitening - $400 - $600 per session
- Custom-made trays - $200 - $450 per refill
You can plan on having at least two or more sessions per year to maintain your target shade. If you're considering doing in-office whitening, you can easily spend $1000 or more each year to keep your teeth as sparkly as you want!
With custom-made trays, it's possible to find more affordable refills to keep the brightness going while being easy on your wallet. And since at-home whitening is more gentle you'll be able to maintain your desired shade for much longer.
To help you compare the two types of whitening, here's a visual breakdown of the differences:
Professional teeth whitening for sensitive teeth
But what if you have sensitive teeth?
"For patients with sensitive teeth, I strongly recommend custom trays and gel to use at home," explains Wally hygienist, Sarah Clark, RDH.
"Patients like the idea of their teeth becoming immediately whiter with in-studio sessions, but those sessions leave teeth extremely sensitive, and if you already experience tooth sensitivity then in-person whitening might feel incredibly painful."
So what should you do if you have sensitive teeth, or don't want to risk sensitivity on your teeth?
"For sensitive patients I recommend using carbamide peroxide gel," says Sarah. "It's not only an effective whitening agent, the ability to customize the formulation allows you to get the results you want while being gentle and comfortable on your teeth."
The key with at-home whitening trays is to be consistent and wear them as directed. Carbamide peroxide only releases 50% of its whitening power in the first two hours and can remain active for another six hours. That's why wearing your trays as directed, between one and eight hours depending on the strength, allows you to get the maximum results from the gel. And if you have sensitive teeth, your dentist can adjust the strength so you can wear them for longer without feeling the sensitivity.
"Adjusting the power of my whitening gel has been so much easier on my teeth," shares one Wally member. "And what's amazing is I saw lasting results in less than a week after the first use. There was this spot I was always self-conscious about on one of my front teeth, and it's been gone since I started using my whitening trays."
Teeth whitening dentist price at Wally
Wally isn't just another Instagram-able dentist office with the same old dentist experience behind a fancy wallpapered accent wall. We changed everything about dental care so you can get the best smile of your life, all for the same price you pay for Netflix.
Our patients all get unlimited, custom, at-home whitening as part of their annual membership. Why do we do that when other dentists are using whitening to make $100s of profits off their patients? Because whitening gel is just one part of what you need to have a bright smile.
A clean, healthy mouth is foundational for great-looking teeth. Our membership is designed to help you have the healthiest mouth of your life. The result - bright teeth that will make you even more excited to wear your KN-95 mask less.