Having a white, gleaming smile has become one of the most enduring beauty standards. But for most people, it can be hard to achieve the Hollywood smile that so many aspire to have. Whether it’s because of genetics or your diet, keeping your smile bright and white takes maintenance. But where do you start? You have two general options, teeth whitening at home or with help from your dentist.
Wondering how to do teeth whitening at home? It’s pretty easy and cost-effective. We’ll cover some of the most popular methods for teeth whitening at home, so you can achieve a brighter smile that makes you feel confident when you look in the mirror.
For a comprehensive guide to teeth whitening at home, read this post from start to finish. Otherwise, you can use the links below to go directly to the information you’re looking for.
- What Causes Yellow Teeth?
- Is It Safe to Whiten Teeth at Home?
- DIY: Best At-Home Teeth Whitening Tips
- Can My Dentist Whiten My Teeth?
- Prevent Teeth Staining Before It Happens
What Causes Yellow Teeth?
Teeth can start to yellow and stain for many reasons, including:
- Certain health conditions and medical treatments such as chemotherapy.
- Prescription medications.
- Drinking dark beverages.
- Eating foods that are prone to staining your teeth like beets.
- Lack of oral hygiene (which is why brushing and flossing are so important).
There are two types of tooth discoloration, extrinsic discoloration (on the outside of the tooth) and intrinsic discoloration (on the inside of the tooth). Extrinsic discoloration is most often caused by exposing your teeth to staining substances like tobacco and dark beverages. Intrinsic discoloration is caused by factors that are more or less out of your control like aging, damage, infection, or as a side effect of medication.
While extrinsic staining can often be treated by teeth whitening at home, intrinsic discoloration requires the help of your dentist.
Is It Safe to Whiten Teeth at Home?
Overall, whitening your teeth at home is generally safe. However, there are some minor risks, including:
- Gum sensitivity and discomfort.
- Gradual erosion of tooth enamel.
- Damage to existing dental work.
While not everyone experiences these side effects, there is a small chance that at-home teeth whitening products could have a negative impact on your oral health—especially when they’re used incorrectly.
DIY: Best At-Home Teeth Whitening Tips
If you feel like your smile is looking a little dingy, don’t fret. There are quite a few fairly easy things you can start doing to brighten your smile. Some of the best methods for teeth whitening at home include:
- Whitening toothpaste: One of the easiest ways to keep your teeth white or progressively brighten them is with whitening toothpaste. You’ll find virtually endless options in the toothpaste aisle, so you can select whichever one best suits your preferences. The key to whitening toothpaste is to use it regularly.
- Whitening strips: Teeth whitening strips are another popular brightening solution that can be purchased easily at the store. Before you purchase whitening strips, be sure to research brands to find a solution that isn’t too harsh on teeth—Crest is one of the best known brands of whitening strips.
- Whitening mouthwash: Many of the same brands that make whitening strips and toothpastes also make whitening mouthwash. Using whitening mouthwash as directed for several months can help you brighten your smile.
- Using an electric toothbrush with your whitening toothpaste: To achieve the best at-home teeth whitening results, you should use an electric toothbrush. This will provide a better application and help yield more even whitening results.
How to Whiten Teeth Quickly
Whether it’s an unexpected office picture day coming up or an important upcoming event, there are plenty of reasons why you might be looking for quick teeth whitening solutions that can brighten your smile as soon as possible.
To whiten teeth quickly, one of the best options is to schedule a professional teeth whitening with your dentist, which can significantly brighten your smile in a single appointment. However, if you don’t have the time or money for a professional teeth whitening session, you can try some at-home solutions. The best at-home teeth whitening solutions for fast results include:
- Whitening strips can make a noticeable difference if you use them for several days in a row.
- You can swish some hydrogen peroxide as a mouthwash the day or two before your event to help brighten your teeth (this is not recommended as a long-term solution, though).
- If you have a few weeks, you may be able to get whiter teeth in time by regularly using a whitening toothpaste.
Keep in mind that not all popular at-home teeth whitening DIY tricks are a good idea—even though they might technically be natural. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), certain substances like straight charcoal or baking soda can be harsh and abrasive on tooth enamel, which can actually make teeth yellowing worse.
Can My Dentist Whiten My Teeth?
Yes, your dentist can whiten your teeth for you. In-office teeth whitening treatment can be performed by applying a whitening solution to your teeth and using a special light that activates the whitener. Depending on how white you want your teeth to be and their current condition, your dentist can customize your treatment plan. This teeth whitening method can brighten your teeth up to eight shades in a single, one-hour treatment.
In addition to in-office brightening treatments, there are also professional whitening systems that they can provide for at-home whitening. These take-home whitening systems typically include a set of trays and syringes of bleaching gel. But what makes these different from trays or strips you can buy at the store?
Professional whitening trays are custom-fitted to your teeth, meaning they will help ensure that the gel is evenly distributed across each tooth, which can provide more comprehensive results. It also prevents whitening gel from getting on your gums, which can cause sensitivity and discomfort. In addition to better-fitting trays, professional-grade whitening gel typically uses a stronger bleaching solution. Together, these two aspects often yield better results, faster.
Save on Your In-Office Teeth Whitening Treatments
One of the reasons that many people turn to store-bought options is because they don’t think they can afford professional whitening treatments—especially because cosmetic treatments aren’t usually covered by insurance. However, just because your insurance doesn’t cover teeth whitening doesn’t mean you have to pay full price.
You can save on your professional teeth whitening treatments with a Dental Savings Plan. These plans are annual memberships that allow you to save at general dentists and specialists by taking a percentage off your treatment cost. Because they aren’t insurance, they are able to include cosmetic dental treatments like whitening (in addition to savings on all your other normal dental procedures). There are several dental savings plan options to choose from, and tens of thousands of dentists accept these plans nationwide.
Prevent Teeth Staining Before It Happens
There are a lot of things we consume that can contribute to teeth staining. If you’re worried about your teeth darkening or becoming yellow, here are a few things you can do to help prevent and minimize teeth stains:
- Avoid drinking dark beverages: Coffee, red wine, green and black teas, beer, sodas, and other dark-colored beverages can stain your teeth over time. To prevent teeth staining, you should avoid drinking these beverages whenever possible.
- Use a straw when drinking: One way to reduce the risk of staining when drinking darker beverages is to use a straw instead of drinking straight from the cup. This allows most of the liquid to bypass your front teeth, reducing their exposure to these substances.
- Stop eating these foods: Certain foods and sauces can contribute to teeth staining, including soy sauce and tomato sauce, as well as blueberries and beets. Eat these foods less frequently if you’re trying to keep your teeth as white as possible.
- Quit smoking and chewing tobacco: Both cigarettes and chewing tobacco are known to stain teeth because of the tar and chemicals used in these products. Even small amounts of these substances can stain your teeth, so quitting altogether is the best way to stop tooth discoloration.
- Rinse with antibacterial mouthwash: Fighting plaque is one of the most important things you can do to help prevent staining. An antibacterial mouthwash keeps plaque from building up on teeth, making it harder for particles to stick to your teeth.
- Brush your teeth after every meal: Brushing your teeth after each meal can help get the potentially staining substances off your teeth quickly. Using an electric toothbrush specifically, can be most beneficial.
- Visit your dentist for regular cleanings: In addition to your dental hygiene routine at home, professional cleanings are necessary too. Dental cleanings are important for helping prevent plaque build up and keeping your oral hygiene in tip-top shape. For most people with healthy teeth, dental cleanings are usually recommended every six months.
These tips can also be helpful for preventing future staining once you’ve had your teeth whitened.
Find the Best Way to Brighten Your Smile
Get the bright, white smile you’ve been dreaming of and feel the immediate confidence boost when you look in the mirror! Whether you want to do it on your own at home or go the professional route with in-office whitening treatments, you can use these tips to find a safe, effective, and affordable way to brighten your smile.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional dental advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist with any questions you may have regarding your oral health.