Whiten Teeth: Best Methods and Products for Tooth Whitening

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Your smile has a direct effect on your social as well as professional successes. 

Whiten Teeth

According to a study commissioned by Crest Whitestrips called “The Impact of Whiter Teeth on Key Impressions”, more than half of the participants (58%) were more likely to be hired and received larger salary offers (53%) after their teeth had been whitened.

Once a luxury reserved for the rich and the elite, the global teeth whitening industry has now expanded into an 11-billion-dollar business with more accessible office whitening systems and affordable take-home kits for all to get their hands on.

 Let’s learn about tooth whitening and how you can achieve your dream smile with whitening.

What is tooth whitening?

Tooth whitening, sometimes referred to as tooth bleaching is the process of effectively lightening the natural color of your teeth without removing or tarnishing the outer layer of your tooth.

Today, an increased number of people are tired of their dull and yellow teeth and want whiter teeth to complement their appearance.

If you are one of these consumers who wants to brighten your smile, teeth whitening is the esthetic procedure for you. 

Types of stains

Most people who opt for whitening have stains that make their teeth look yellow or dull and that cannot be removed simply by brushing. Tooth discoloration or stains can be of many types such as extrinsic, intrinsic, or a combination of both types.

Extrinsic stains

Extrinsic stains accumulate on the surface of the tooth enamel due to various external indulges such as tobacco use, exposure to metal salts like iron or copper, or the over-consumption of highly pigmented foods like coffee or red wine.

Extrinsic stains smoking

These extrinsic stains can be aggravated by poor lifestyle habits like improper oral hygiene, frequent consumption of pigmented foods or beverages, and tobacco use. Tooth whitening can help remove stains like these without impacting the tooth.

Intrinsic stains

On the contrary, intrinsic stains occur inside the tooth and can result due to various systemic as well as local causes. Studies have found that these intrinsic stains are common among individuals with genetic disorders like dentinogenesis imperfecta.

Aging can also play a significant role in the development of intrinsic discoloration as the enamel becomes more translucent and thinner as one grows older. Due to the thinning of the enamel, the underlying yellower dentin can show through, giving the appearance of a darker tooth.

Other causes of intrinsic discoloration can include fluorosis, tetracycline use in childhood, tooth decay, prolonged use of chlorhexidine mouthwash, or hemorrhage and necrosis of the pulp. 

These deep-set stains are a little more difficult to remove and may not respond to bleaching agents that are used in whitening products, the American Dental Association informs. 

Many experienced dentists recommend dental bonding or porcelain veneers to deal with these stubborn stains.

What are some teeth whitening methods?

There are many ways you’re able to whiten your teeth. At-home whitening products such as strips, gels, or custom-made bleaching trays can be available at your local drugstore. 

While these DIY whitening products can brighten teeth, they may not be the right choice for people with extensive discoloration. Professional dental bleaching is recommended for those who need a thorough whitening.

No matter what type of tooth whitening method you use, you should remember that the results won’t last forever. At-home products may give results that last for a few months whereas in-office professional whitening can last you up to 3 years.

Over-the-counter teeth whitening products

Several types of teeth-whitening products are available based on your preference and comfort. Some common methods include:

Whitening toothpaste

If you’re brushing your teeth with whitening toothpaste twice daily, it can take about two to six weeks until you see any significant results. 

Whitening toothpaste

The ingredients contained in whitening toothpaste are hydrogen peroxide, carbamide peroxide, and mild abrasives. 

Hydrogen peroxide is often used as an active ingredient in commercial tooth whiteners because of its whitening properties. Studies have shown that it is remarkably effective in whitening teeth when used in safe concentrations. Carbamide peroxide works similarly.

Mild abrasives used in whitening toothpaste can help remove extrinsic stains from teeth while at the same time polishing the surface of the teeth for a smooth finish. Using a whitening toothpaste short-term is an affordable and effective way to brighten your dimming smile.

Whitening strips

Teeth whitening strips are applied directly to the surface of your teeth and are popularly revered as the most effective over-the-counter whitening method. The results obtained from using these strips can last up to 6 months.

Whitening strips use peroxide to remove the surface stains and bleach the teeth. They should be applied once or twice a day for 10 to 14 days. They can lighten your teeth by one to two shades. However, overuse can cause harm to your teeth.

Whitening mouthwash

Whitening rinses, like other whitening products, contain hydrogen peroxide to bring out a whiter hue to the tooth. They work best when used to prolong the effects of in-office whitening or whitening strips. When used alone, their results may not be as dramatic or long-lasting.

Rinse your teeth with an appropriate whitening rinse for 60 seconds at least twice a day for optimal results. You can use a whitening mouthwash daily to help gradually remove surface staining. 

It may take up to 3 months before you see any visible improvements from a whitening mouthwash.

At-Home whitening kits

With this whitening option, you fill a peroxide-based bleaching or whitening gel in a mouth guard-like tray which is then applied directly to the teeth for one to several hours a day for up to 4 weeks.

At-Home whitening kits

After using these trays on your teeth daily, you should start seeing results from a whitening gel tray within a week or two of application. At times, you may need to keep the tray on your teeth overnight depending on your requirements. 

However, if applied improperly, this can result in uneven whitening of teeth. You should consult your dentist for a custom-made tray fabrication to obtain the best results.

The effects of whitening trays can last a year or longer. This method works best when combined with proper oral hygiene.

Professional teeth bleaching at a dental office

Although multiple at-home whiteners are available in the market today, the best way to whiten your teeth is with professional teeth whitening. The procedure is done at a dental office and may require one or two visits.

During a professional whitening procedure, the dentist applies a hydrogen or carbamide peroxide-based whitening agent to your teeth to remove surface stains from teeth. The teeth whitening process is then activated using a blue or UV light.

The peroxide in the whitening solution will immediately start to bleach your teeth as it becomes active, penetrating your enamel.

An in-office dental whitening procedure when followed up with proper oral hygiene measures should provide long-lasting results for 1 to 3 years.

How to whiten your teeth at home? 

Individuals for whom the chemicals in over-the-counter dental bleach are a cause of concern can also choose to whiten their teeth naturally at home. 

Although sufficient research is not available for all of these methods, there are some natural ways to whiten your teeth.

Oil pulling with coconut oil

Oil pulling is a traditional Indian remedy used to improve oral hygiene by removing toxins from your body. Ancient texts claim oil pulling to be effective at whitening teeth by reducing bacteria in the mouth along with plaque and gum disease.

In this method, you are meant to swish a spoonful of sesame or coconut oil around your mouth for 15 minutes every day.

While some studies found that oil pulling reduced the presence of a common gum disease-inducing bacteria called Streptococcus mutans, no significant research has been done to prove its efficacy in whitening teeth.

Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide

Baking soda is a mild abrasive that helps scrub stains from the teeth. When used together, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide help keep your teeth clean and make them appear whiter.

Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide

Mix one tablespoon of baking soda and two tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide. Apply this mixture on a wet toothbrush and brush gently to help naturally whiten your teeth. 

However, the abrasiveness of baking soda can be detrimental to your tooth enamel, so practice caution when using this paste.

Can you whiten teeth naturally?

Oil pulling is a common way to whiten your teeth and brighten your smile at home. You can try rinsing your mouth with a 1.5% or 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide as a mouthwash before you brush your teeth.

These natural whitening procedures should always be combined with proper oral hygiene and the incorporation of healthy habits to maintain a healthy mouth as well as a healthy body.

What are some whitening effects?

Although teeth whitening can remove stains and make your teeth appear brighter, whitening may have some side effects. Sensitive teeth are one of the most common side effects of whitening.

Some people may find that they are experiencing gum irritation after a teeth whitening procedure. This may occur during at-home whitening if the bleaching agents contact the gums. This should resolve quickly on its own.

Since most bleaching products like toothpaste or gel trays contain abrasives, they are not meant to be used long-term. Prolonged use of these products may thin tooth enamel. Consequently, your teeth may feel sensitive.

You should talk to your dentist about using over-the-counter whitening kits before you invest your time and money into them.

Lifestyle Changes for Maintaining Whiter Teeth

Now that you’ve gotten your teeth professionally or self-whitened, you’d most likely want to preserve the results and protect your teeth from future staining. 

Here are a few things you can do to keep teeth looking as white and fresh as they were immediately after whitening.

Fruits and Veggies

Consume high-fiber, raw, and crunchy fruits and veggies such as apples, celery, and broccoli as they help scrub away plaque and increase salivary flow. 

Fruits and Veggies

Strawberries contain a substance known as malic acid that has been found to prevent stains on your teeth. 

Similarly, pineapples contain an enzyme called bromelain that has been linked to the accelerated removal of tooth stains. However, not enough evidence is present to prove that eating pineapples can whiten teeth.

Good oral hygiene

Brush and floss your teeth regularly. Sticking to a strict and proper oral hygiene regimen can help reduce harmful bacteria in your mouth and prevent plaque buildup.

Brush your teeth at least twice a day with regular toothpaste to protect your teeth from decay.

Toothpaste gently scrubs away stains on the surface of your teeth whereas flossing removes food debris and bacteria deposited below the gums.

Get regular dental cleanings to keep your teeth clean and to stay on top of your oral health.

Dairy products

Dairy products such as milk and unsweetened yogurt contain high contents of calcium and phosphates that are essential in protecting and regenerating tooth enamel. 

Cheese also helps increase saliva production which helps cleanse away residual food debris, thereby preventing decay and gum disease.

Highly pigmented foods

Foods and beverages that are highly pigmented and containing tannins such as red wine and tea can stain the teeth. Additionally, coffee, sodas, and juices can also stain white teeth.

Red wine and tea can stain the teeth

Eliminate pigmented foods from your diet to maintain the results from teeth whitening for a longer period.


Smoking or tobacco products can increase your risk of nicotine staining on your teeth. By quitting this adverse habit, you can prevent stains and protect your teeth and gums against decay and gum disease.

Acidic foods

Acidic foods such as citrus, coffee, and sodas can wear down your tooth enamel, making them appear yellower. Avoid over-consumption of these acidic foods and beverages and always brush your teeth after consuming them.

Consult your dentist

Teeth whitening is a widely accredited treatment procedure used to remove discoloration on your teeth and make them appear brighter. 

While at-home and over-the-counter teeth whitening treatments can help whiten teeth and make them appear brighter, in-office teeth whitening remains the safest and most effective at achieving your desired results.

It may be best for you to consult with a dentist to manage your expectations and verify your requirements before you splurge on a bleaching product. 

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