Maintaining a bright white smile can be challenging, even with the healthiest of habits. The good news is that many effective teeth whiteners can help you flash those pearly whites.
In this blog on the best teeth whitening methods, we’ll look at the following:
- What is the best and healthiest way to whiten your teeth?
- What not to do before teeth whitening?
- Do I need to be careful how long I whiten my teeth?
- Popular DIY teeth whitening myths
What is the Best and Healthiest Way to Whiten Your Teeth?
When whitening your teeth naturally and safely, no trend can match good daily hygiene. The best way to keep your smile shining bright is to follow daily brushing and flossing habits and regular cleanings with your dentist. Avoid food and drinks that can stain your teeth, like soda, coffee, and wine. These habits will help keep your teeth whiter over time.
If you want dramatic results and you want them in a hurry, there is no substitution for in-office whitening. During in-office whitening, the dentist will apply a bleach-based product directly to your teeth while enhancing the treatment with heat. Your teeth will be much brighter after only one visit.
In some cases, more than one visit may be required for those with heavily-stained teeth. If you’re concerned about the potential health risks of tooth whitening, check out our other blog post, “Is Whitening Bad?“.
Although all toothpaste contains mild abrasives that eliminate certain stains, whitening toothpaste also includes a polishing or lightening agent that can brighten teeth by about one shade, according to Web MD. They are safe for most people because they are sold over the counter, but that also limits their effectiveness. If you only need mild whitening, an over-the-counter whitening toothpaste might be powerful enough for you.
Over-the-Counter Whitening Treatments
- Whitening Kit. If you’ve tried whitening toothpaste and it isn’t strong enough for your needs, consider using an over-the-counter teeth whitening kit. Some kits contain bleach-free strips that you’ll apply to your teeth for 30 minutes twice daily for about two weeks.
If you’re consistent about the application of the strips, you’ll notice a change after several days. How long the results last depends on your diet and whether or not you smoke. After about four months, you’ll probably need to start the process again.
- Whitening Gel. Try a whitening gel if hydrogen peroxide enhanced whitening strips don’t work for you. You’ll apply the gel directly to your teeth with a small wand twice daily for two weeks. Like over-the-counter whitening strips, the results will become apparent after a few days and last up to four months.
- Whitening Rinses. Alternatively, whitening rinses operate like mouthwash — you’ll swish twice a day for a minute, but the added convenience means it will take several times as long to notice an improvement. With strips and the gel, you’ll get whiter teeth after only a few days; with the rinse, seeing results could take as long as three months.
- Whitening Tray. Some people use a tray-based whitener that can be purchased either at the local pharmacy or the dentist. Tray whiteners use peroxide-based whitening agents to whiten teeth, just as the other methods. However, unlike strips, gels, and rinses, you can wear trays for as long as a couple of hours a day for up to four weeks.
What Not To Do Before Teeth Whitening?
Before your appointment, avoid foods and drinks that can stain your teeth, such as coffee, tea, berries, red wine, tomato sauce, soda, etc. You don’t want to add further discoloration or staining to your teeth in the weeks leading up to your whitening treatment. Continue brushing and flossing daily and maintaining an overall healthy oral hygiene routine.
Do I Need To Be Careful How Long I Whiten My Teeth?
For at-home treatments, always follow the instructions carefully and never apply more than the directed amount of gel or keep the treatment on for longer than directed. The ingredients and chemicals used in whitening can cause tooth sensitivity and dryness to your enamel.
Because of this, it’s recommended that teeth whitening be done no more than twice annually. Professional whitening treatments should keep stains away for at least a year after the initial treatment, so needing more than one or two sessions is typically unnecessary.
Popular DIY Teeth Whitening Myths
Many of the most popular at-home teeth whitening remedies can lead to damaging effects for your teeth. Let’s explore some of the latest trends and discover the safest alternative.
The ancient practice of oil pulling involves swishing a tablespoon of oil around your mouth for about 20 minutes before spitting it out. While it’s thought to enhance teeth whitening by activating your salivary glands and removing bacteria, there’s no proof to support these claims. Oil pulling is unlikely to cause any harm — but there are no proven teeth whitening benefits in the short or long term.
Charcoal products are a popular at-home trend for tooth whitening. While charcoal toothpaste may help remove stains and temporarily brighten your teeth, it has some risks. Charcoal can cause enamel (outer layer of the tooth) abrasion. This will weaken your teeth beyond repair, as enamel cannot grow back. In line with most dentists, we recommend avoiding charcoal-based teeth whitening products.
Many use baking soda-based toothpaste or peroxide and baking soda mixes to bleach their teeth. Like charcoal, baking soda naturally whitens teeth in the short term but can act as an abrasive agent. Over time, this can weaken your enamel, putting you at higher risk for dental cavities and tooth sensitivity. Regular toothpaste is just as effective in maintaining good oral hygiene so long as you’re being consistent.
You may have heard that citrus-based solutions help whiten teeth. Fruit is natural — what could go wrong? Lemons, limes, and other citrus fruits contain a high amount of acid. This acid can wear away your enamel layers, mainly if you apply it regularly and leave it on for long periods of time. Stick with eating fruit instead of using it as a teeth whitening remedy.
Published On: March 15, 2014
Updated On: September 11, 2023