Teeth whitening doesn’t have to be an expensive choice. You may ask yourself, “how much for teeth whitening?”, but it really depends on where or from whom you’re getting it. Obviously, your dentist is going to have the latest and greatest products and procedures, which will provide lasting results, but it may not always be the most cost-effective choice. On the other hand, if you go to your local big-box retailer and pull one of the popular products off-the-shelf, you’ll probably get something that may lighten the color of your teeth, or perhaps just lighten your wallet. When it comes down to it, you have three main options.

There’s dentist-provided teeth whitening, performed in the comfort of a dental chair, and is completely effortless. It’s main benefit is the ability to make a significant color change in very little time. The dentist applies a high-concentration peroxide gel, gently applied with the protection of a paint-on rubber dam for the gums. You’ll likely have to enjoy the time spent under those warm dental lights a few consecutive periods of about 20 minutes each. It’s usually complete in an hour or less. Those with particularly intense whitening needs might have to truck back down to the dentist for a few additional sessions, or your dentist may recommend one of the many effective at-home whitening products, which brings us to door #2. Most dentists charge about $700 for this service, and it’s the best option.

Option two, are those at-home whitening products your dentist offers, should you decide you can do without the Caddilac frills. Some dentists feel this is a better long-term option than in-office visits, as the whitening compounds aren’t as concentrated, and can be left on the teeth for as long as it takes, even if that means pulling an all-nighter. These kits work extremely well, because the teeth are whitened with custom-fitted trays, and will usually set you back somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 to $400.

Now, for the most economical choice, you can simply hop in your car and drive over to your local big-box retailer and pick up a kit. Unlike the pro kits, these take a one-size-fits-most approach, so you won’t be able to whiten all of the teeth, but just the front teeth. You’re also unlikely to get much of the overnight whitening benefit, as they’re probably not as comfy to use while you’re sleeping. However, the upside is that they’re much easier to get, and are lighter on your pocketbook. The most popular kits won’t cost more than $100 bucks.

Teeth whitening doesn’t have to cost a fortune, and it really comes down to how much time you’re willing to devote to a brighter smile. Faster, complete results cost more, while just getting the teeth that most people see will be cheaper in cost, but may involve more time.