It seems like almost everyone is into teeth whitening these days because who doesn’t want a bright, radiant smile? The quickest and most effective way to whiten teeth is going to a dentist and getting your teeth professionally bleached. There are a couple of options depending on the amount of time and money you want to spend. The fastest – and most expensive – method is something called zoom whitening. The “zoom” in this case refers to speed, because the process takes only about 30 to 45 minutes and involves wearing a hydrogen peroxide gel on your teeth that is then activated under a special UV light. This method claims to make one’s teeth up to 8 shades lighter than their current state, and in such a short time. This speed and efficacy comes at a price, however, costing up to several hundred dollars.

The less expensive but more time-consuming option is to buy a home-kit from your dentist which contains a similar peroxide formula that you wear to bed for a certain number of nights, depending on the strength of the mixture. This does not involve curing the gel under a UV light; it can be done by anyone, and achieves good results, but obviously takes longer and is not quite as brightening as the zoom treatment.

If you want to skip the dentist altogether, there are several at-home options available. First, there are those whitening strip kits that most toothpaste manufacturers offer in drugstores and supermarkets. They are individual strips of plastic coated with hydrogen peroxide gel that fit along the top and bottom line of teeth. Kits vary in the amount of strips offered and the time allotted for treatment, all depending on the strength of the whitening formula. Some white strips need only a few days to work; others take almost a month.

An even more inexpensive option is simply using a toothpaste containing – you guessed it! — hydrogen peroxide. However, if your teeth are already pretty yellow, simply using a toothpaste alone won’t do a lot to noticeably lighten them. The toothpaste is better used to maintain a bright smile after teeth have been whitened using one of the methods above.

Lastly, the cheapest whitening method going right to the source and rinsing out your mouth with hydrogen peroxide solution a few times each day. It’s very inexpensive and readily available at grocery and drug stores. However, as with the toothpaste method, it’s better used as maintenance following a more vigorous whitening treatment.