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Teeth Whitening: Your Guide on How to Get White Teeth

July 26, 2019

While a perfectly contoured face and smooth, sleek hair are certainly sought after traits, there’s no denying that a pearly white smile takes the cake when it comes to a picturesque beauty look. Unfortunately, some of our favorite beverages like wine and coffee aren’t doing us any favors in that area. If you’re wondering how to whiten teeth and have found yourself on the hunt for the best teeth whitening method, we’re right there with you! Now, exit out of your Google search because we’ve already gathered all the must-know info on teeth whitening—from strips to DIY teeth whitening methods. Consider this your go-to guide on how to get white teeth!


When it comes to how to make your teeth white, one option is turning to a professional. This is where a dentist who offers teeth whitening comes in! There are two options for whitening your teeth professionally.

Option #1: At the dentist. According to the Mayo Clinic, one option your dentist may provide involves using a solution that contains hydrogen peroxide to bleach your teeth during a series of visits. Per the Mayo Clinic, typically after just four 30 minute sessions, you’ll notice a smile that’s bright and white. While this option is certainly effective, it’s important to keep in mind that the solution used can burn your gums, according to the Mayo Clinic, so make sure your dentist has plenty of experience and expertise and will make certain your gums are protected with a barrier during the process. It’s also worth noting that bleaching can make your teeth more sensitive.

Option #2: At home. Alternatively, your dentist can provide you with a professional at-home option. The Mayo Clinic states that this involves your dentist making an impression of your teeth to create a tray that forms perfectly to your smile. Each night, you place a solution that contains a bleaching agent called carbamide peroxide inside the tray and wear it. Results typically last for about two years and a significant difference in the level of whiteness can be noticed after about two weeks, according to the Mayo Clinic.

One more note on professional teeth whitening, while both of these methods are effective and last longer than over-the-counter products, per the Mayo Clinic, they are also more expensive.


Speaking of over-the-counter teeth whitening products, there are plenty of options you can try at home to give your smile a boost. We’ll go into the details of a few popular options, below.

Option #1: Teeth whitening toothpaste. You’ve likely come across whitening toothpaste at some point—but does it actually work? The short answer is yes, but only to an extent. According to the Mayo Clinic, whitening toothpaste can appear to whiten teeth slightly by removing surface stains. Unlike professional teeth whitening products, whitening toothpastes can't change the natural color of your teeth or lighten a stain that goes deeper than the tooth's surface.

According to a study from the National Center for Biotechnological Information (NCBI), teeth whitening toothpastes typically contain higher amounts of abrasives and detergents than standard toothpastes so that they can remove tougher stains. These toothpastes do not contain bleach but can contain low concentrations of carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide to help lighten tooth color by about one or two shades.

Option #2: Teeth whitening strips. Next on our list? Teeth whitening strips! Most of us have considered picking up a box for a quick at-home whitening session, but what’s the deal? The Cleveland Clinic explains that whitening strips are very thin, virtually invisible strips that are coated with a peroxide-based whitening gel. For 14 days, the strips are applied twice daily for 30 minutes and results are seen within just a few days of use. However, these results only last for about four months.

Option #3: Teeth whitening gels. Similar to whitening strips, teeth whitening gels can typically lighten your teeth by one to two shades, per the NCBI study referenced above. The study states that whitening gels are peroxide-based gels applied with a small brush directly to the surface of the teeth, usually twice daily for 14 days.

Option #4: Teeth whitening rinses. What about teeth whitening mouthwash and rinses? Per the NCBI study, whitening rinses contain oxygen sources such as hydrogen peroxide that work on stains. Used twice a day for 60 seconds each, it takes up to three months to see a one or two shade improvement in tooth color with this method.


So what about DIY teeth whitening methods? Do home concoctions really work? Here’s what you need to know about three of the most talked about DIY teeth whitening options.

Option #1: Charcoal teeth whitening. In case you haven’t heard, charcoal teeth whitener has made quite the name for itself in the beauty world in recent years. But what’s the truth behind all the hype? Activated charcoal is known to be a potent natural ingredient that is effective at trapping toxins and chemicals, according to the International Journal of Science and Research (IJSR). It helps to attract material in a similar fashion to a magnet, holding it in its pores and leaving the area around it clean. That being said, the American Dental Association (ADA) warns that activated charcoal is too abrasive and will wear away your tooth enamel, per the IJSR. When that happens, the next layer of your tooth can become exposed—a softer, yellow tissue called dentin, according to Mouth Healthy and the American Dental Association (ADA). Not quite the look you were going for, right?

Option #2: Baking soda teeth whitening. Next, you may have heard rumors about baking soda being used to whiten teeth. Well, the rumors are true! In fact, a study from The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) concluded that baking soda is an ideal stain removal method. According to the study, it has a relatively low abrasivity—meaning it won’t be too harsh on your teeth—and is clinically proven for stain removal and whitening efficacy. However, it should be noted that most research has involved the use of manual toothbrushes and baking soda pastes or powders as opposed to power brushes, per the JADA study, for which further research is still needed.

Option #3: Coconut oil teeth whitening. Heard about oil pulling? This is another DIY teeth whitening option that has been hyped up more than it deserves. The ADA states that there is no reliable scientific evidence to show swishing oils like coconut oil in your mouth—which is what oil pulling involves—whitens teeth.

Editor’s note: Considering trying a DIY teeth whitening method? Play it safe and consult with your dentist first!

Anxious to get some pearly whites? While waiting for your teeth whitening method of choice to take effect, paint your pout with one of these 5 Lipstick Shades That Will Make Your Teeth Look Whiter and Brighter.

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