A beautiful smile

Tried and Tested Home Teeth Whitening to Reveal Your Brightest Smile Ever Tried

Discover the Best Ways to Whiten Your Teeth at Home, including teeth whitening kits, strips, pens, and toothpaste, to achieve a brighter smile conveniently and effectively.

At-Home Teeth Whitening

At-home teeth whitening operates by addressing two categories of stains: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic stains manifest within the natural minuscule openings or tiny fractures present in your teeth. These stains impact the dentin, which constitutes the layer beneath the tough, safeguarding enamel layer of your tooth. Various factors contribute to intrinsic stains, including specific medications, infections, the natural aging process, inadequate dental restorations (such as fillings), and dental trauma. It is important to note that certain molecules responsible for intrinsic tooth staining, particularly intense and dark gray stains, cannot be effectively broken down by whitening agents.

Extrinsic stains, as their name suggests, refer to stains that appear on the outer surface of your teeth. If you frequently indulge in beverages like coffee, tea, soda, and red wine, or consume brightly colored foods such as blueberries, beets, curries, and tomato-based sauces, or use tobacco products, you are likely to have a greater number of extrinsic stains compared to someone who predominantly drinks water. At-home whitening products can effectively eliminate these external stains from your teeth.

The majority of teeth whitening products employ either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide as the active whitening agent. The oxygen molecules within these chemicals interact with the molecules responsible for tooth discoloration. As the whitening agent molecules penetrate your teeth, they weaken the bonds of the stained molecules, gradually eliminating them.

Hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide are quite similar, with the latter containing hydrogen peroxide within it. The main distinction between these two chemicals lies in their breakdown rate and shelf life. Hydrogen peroxide breaks down more rapidly and has a shorter shelf life compared to carbamide peroxide. For at-home whitening devices that require prolonged use, a dental professional might recommend carbamide peroxide.

Toothpastes, however, deviate from the peroxide rule. Most toothpastes marketed for teeth whitening do not contain a whitening agent; instead, they incorporate abrasives like silica that mechanically remove stains from the enamel layer of your teeth.

While dental professionals typically offer teeth whitening procedures, many individuals opt for at-home whitening products due to their convenience and affordability. "If a person has healthy teeth and tooth structure, an over-the-counter product could be effective," says Robert DiPilla, a cosmetic dentist in Detroit. "However, for individuals with dental work, gingivitis, tooth sensitivity, or decay, over-the-counter products can exacerbate those issues."

Ways to Whiten Your Teeth at Home

When it comes to whitening your teeth at home, there are several effective options to consider. To determine the most suitable at-home whitening product for you, it's helpful to consider factors such as your budget, desired treatment duration, and whitening goals. Consulting with your dental professional can provide valuable guidance on which over-the-counter (OTC) products they would recommend based on your specific oral health needs.

Teeth Whitening Kits

One popular choice is an over-the-counter whitening kit that typically consists of a tray resembling a mouthguard, filled with a gel or paste containing a peroxide solution. This tray is placed over your teeth for a few minutes to a few hours per day, usually for a duration of up to a month, until you achieve your desired level of whiteness.

According to Joe G. Willardsen, a cosmetic dentist in Las Vegas, the conventional practice of wearing whitening trays overnight has evolved. Nowadays, people tend to wear them for shorter periods, such as 15 or 20 minutes, but do so more frequently.

Teeth whitening kits with trays vary in price range. Some affordable options include "boil and bite" kits available for around $25, where you can mold the tray at home by boiling it in hot water until it becomes pliable and fits your mouth. On the other hand, there are combo kits starting at $150, which include an LED light mouthpiece designed to expedite the whitening process (though research on the effectiveness of light activation yields mixed results) along with a whitening pen.

Teeth Whitening Strips

Teeth whitening strips have gained popularity as an effective and affordable option for at-home whitening. These strips are favored for their ease of use, reasonable cost, and noticeable outcomes. By applying the gel-coated side of these plastic strips onto your teeth, the peroxide-based solution within them permeates the enamel, delivering results that can endure for several months.

Similar to trays, teeth whitening strips provide extended exposure to a whitening agent. The instructions accompanying the dental strips will specify the recommended duration and frequency for optimal results. Typically, you wear the strips twice a day for a short period, ranging from 10 to 30 minutes. This regimen is usually maintained for about two weeks. The price of teeth whitening strips varies, ranging from $10 to $70, offering options that fit different budgets.

Teeth Whitening Pens

Teeth whitening pens serve as convenient tools for touch-ups and maintenance while on the go. However, they are generally less effective as standalone whitening solutions. According to Willardsen, without a guard or bumper to prevent contact between the gel and the lips, the whitening gel can quickly become diluted by saliva.

Nevertheless, teeth whitening pens are often favored due to their affordability (with prices as low as a few dollars per pen) and straightforward instructions to apply twice daily for a duration of two weeks. These pens typically utilize a base of either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.

Teeth Whitening Toothpaste

Teeth whitening toothpaste is formulated with key ingredients such as hydrated silica, perlite, and alumina, which play a significant role in stain removal, as highlighted in a 2019 review on teeth whitening in the Dentistry Journal.

However, it is crucial to select a toothpaste that contains an appropriate amount of abrasives. Toothpastes with higher abrasivity can potentially harm your enamel if used over an extended period. While opting for less abrasivity may increase the chance of developing stains, it is important to prioritize enamel protection. Therefore, we recommend choosing a stain-removing toothpaste that bears the ADA Seal of Acceptance. If you decide to use a toothpaste without the ADA Seal of Acceptance, it is advisable to consult your dentist regarding the frequency of use.

The American Dental Association ensures that their approved toothpastes, when used correctly, will not weaken or damage your enamel. Some whitening toothpastes may also contain minimal levels of hydrogen or carbamide peroxide, which, as mentioned earlier, contribute to brightening your smile.