How to Whiten Your Teeth at Home
Two top dentists share tips for brightening your smile.
Nothing lights up your face like a brilliantly white smile, so it’s a cruel twist of fate that coffee and wine cause such significant teeth stains. Rather than sacrifice two of our favorite vices, or spend our money and time at the dentist for bleaching sessions, we looked into whether or not it’s possible to achieve a professional-level whitening at home.
For a better understanding of at-home teeth whitening—and a list of products to use—we spoke to Dr. Michael Apa and Dr. Kevin Sands. Between them, they’ve treated some megawatt celebrity smiles, including those belonging to Elsa Hosk, the Olsen twins, and Justin Bieber. Here’s what they say about DIY teeth whitening, and their tips for getting a dazzling smile just in time for summer.
Is it possible to achieve professional-level teeth whitening at home?
Dr. Sands: “Yes, but it takes a very long time. You can have custom bleaching trays made by your dentist, but the results can take up to two weeks of daily bleaching in order to achieve professional-level whitening.”
Dr. Apa: “Professional whitening typically utilizes a higher percentage of bleach called hydrogen peroxide. This is a stronger concentration than most at-home whitening kits can offer because it is controlled by a dentist. An in-office bleaching can be a great jump start to getting a whiter smile. At-home whitening should be thought of to maintain the results long-term [after] an in-office treatment.”
What is the best method for whitening your teeth at home?
DS: “Custom professional bleaching trays made by your dentist would be your best bet. Whitening toothpastes can help with daily maintenance but are generally not powerful enough to obtain significant whitening on their own. Strips tend to work well, but are more gradual, because they are for folks [with] very sensitive teeth.”
DA: “Teeth-whitening is safe and effective to do at home provided that you are using a high-quality whitening kit. The Apa White Duo offers a double dose of the highest concentration of over-the-counter bleach allowed through [its] bleach applicator and bleach film strip. It has a bleach dispenser with 20 percent carbamide peroxide and 18 percent carbamide peroxide films. [You] apply the bleach directly to dry teeth, and the film goes over top of that [for] double the whitening power in an hour.”
Are there methods of teeth whitening at home that utilize household products?
DS: “[There’s] a baking soda tooth whitening mask. Use one teaspoon of baking soda and one drop of lemon oil to make a paste. Dip a clean toothbrush into the mixture, gently brush it on your teeth, leave it on for two minutes, and rinse. This can have pretty quick results and is generally safe as long as it is not overdone.”
What other ingredients should you look for to whiten your teeth at home?
DS: “We love to watch for ingredients such as activated charcoal, peroxide, baking soda, and hydrated silica. Traditionally, the peroxide-based products have withstood the test of time. Now there are a lot of all-natural options that contain activated charcoal and are becoming very popular. Charcoal has been shown to whiten if used consistently.”
How many sessions will it take to achieve whiter teeth?
DA: “For most patients, an in-office whitening will yield results immediately. At-home whitening results may be seen in as little as five days, depending on the concentration and the routine of application. Typically, results will vary from patient to patient, but on average [results last] one to two months. Brushing with an electric toothbrush and seeing your dentist for regular cleanings to remove external stains and buildup will allow the bleaching both in-office and at home to last longer.”
Are there any mistakes you see people making in their attempts to get whiter teeth?
DA: “When whitening, it is key to stay away from foods and drinks that contain any color, as the teeth can become more porous and can retain that color more after bleaching. If they drink colored drinks through a straw and stay away from foods with heavy coloring, it will prolong the whiteness.”
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