DIY Teeth Whitening

erica medical reviewer
Medically Reviewed
by Dr. Erica Anand
Ellie Swain
Written by
Ellie Swain
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Evidence Based
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7 sources cited
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What is DIY Teeth Whitening?

Teeth begin to yellow with age. However, there are DIY teeth whitening methods available to slow the process or even reverse it. 

There are many teeth whitening kits and products readily available at most pharmacies. There are also many natural remedies to help remove stains and protect tooth enamel.

Is DIY Whitening Safe & Effective?

If some of the DIY teeth whitening advice you read seems too good to be true, it probably is. While some DIY whitening solutions are safe and effective, not all are. Some tips may even have negative consequences.

It is not safe to use a mouth guard for whitening that is not custom-fitted to your mouth by a dentist. This is because hydrogen peroxide could irritate your gums. If your gums are recessed, and the hydrogen peroxide reaches an exposed tooth root surface, it may be problematic.

Another potential problem may be the amount of hydrogen peroxide used in a teeth whitening product. The concentration marked as safe and effective by the FDA and ADA for tooth whitening (ten percent carbamide peroxide) is similar to 3.6 percent hydrogen peroxide.

It would be challenging to mix the amount of hydrogen peroxide precisely when using it at home, so it is not safe to try this whitening method.

Best Overall Whitening Kit — Snow At-Home Teeth Whitening All-in-One Kit

Fastest Results — Glo Brilliant Teeth Whitening Device

Best for Sensitive Teeth — Snow At-Home Teeth Whitening All-in-One Kit

Best on a Budget — AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Kit

Best Whitening Strips — Crest 3D Whitestrips Glamorous White

Other teeth whitening methods do not have any studies to back them up, such as using turmeric as a tooth whitener. It is not a good idea to use any whitening method that has not been proven to work. There are other safe and useful techniques to choose from instead that have been researched.


At-home teeth whitening kits can give you the same results as professional whitening treatment in less than two weeks. (Be sure to follow instructions carefully).

Discover the top 10 teeth whitening products available today.


If you perform tooth whitening at home, it is usually better to use an over-the-counter product than a DIY technique.

Before you do any bleaching at home, even with over-the-counter products, you should have your teeth examined by your dentist for any issues like cavities or cracks. These tooth problems could cause the pulp to become irritated during whitening.

5 DIY Teeth Whitening Methods That Don’t Work

Some DIY teeth whitening strategies are capable of lightening your teeth safely. However, other popular methods are not proven to work. They may do more harm than benefit.

In many cases, there is no scientific evidence to prove that a teeth whitening method is safe or effective.

Charcoal Whitening Products

Brushing your teeth with powdered charcoal is known to pull toxins from the mouth and remove stains from teeth.

However, while some studies have demonstrated that activated charcoal removes stains, it is not the best option. Charcoal claims to “detoxify” and whiten the teeth. But, there is no clear definition of what it means to detoxify something in the mouth.

Additionally, the toxicity of charcoal-based dental products has not been thoroughly tested.

Baking Soda & Hydrogen Peroxide Paste

A popular DIY teeth whitening method is applying a baking soda-hydrogen peroxide paste directly to the teeth. However, this can be abrasive because the concentration is usually too potent. Overuse can erode the teeth.

Lemon and Baking Soda

The use of lemon and baking soda is another popular DIY teeth whitening treatment. However, acidic fruits like lemons can wear away tooth enamel and lead to cavities, sensitivity, and other dental issues. Do not use lemons or any other acidic fruits to whiten your teeth.

Make sure you consume acidic fruits as part of a healthy diet. Eating a varied diet naturally improves the health of your teeth and brightness.

Apple Cider Vinegar

There is no scientific evidence that using apple cider vinegar as a mouthwash helps whiten teeth. Vinegar contains acid, which can weaken the enamel and lead to tooth decay. Do not apply any type of vinegar to your teeth.

Oil Pulling

Oil pulling is an Ayurvedic method of whitening teeth. It involves swishing oil through the teeth and around the mouth. Most commonly, coconut and olive oil are used.

While the treatment may improve bad breath, it will not remove stains from teeth.

What are the Most Effective Whitening Methods?

Whitening products containing hydrogen peroxide are the most effective teeth whiteners. The chemical has been used for decades and is backed by a significant amount of research.

Hydrogen peroxide gels whiten teeth through oxidation, and most treatments do not cause enamel damage (when used as directed). 

However, some peroxide treatments can cause tooth sensitivity and gum irritation. This risk is increased if you use a higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide to whiten your teeth.

Do not whiten your teeth with hydrogen peroxide alone. This can lead to irreversible damage. Professional-grade whitening products use lower concentrations of the chemical to safely whiten teeth.

Safer At-Home Teeth Whitening Methods

Fortunately, there are many safe and effective DIY teeth whitening methods on the market:

At-Home LED Whitening Kits

At-home LED whitening kits are growing in popularity all across the world. Unlike other UV teeth whitening strategies, this whitening procedure uses blue light, which is completely harmless and risk-free.


NewMouth recommends LED teeth whitening systems to achieve a brighter smile. They are affordable, easy to use, produce minimal side effects, and highly effective.

View our review of the best teeth whitening products.


They are also very affordable compared to professional whitening treatments. Here are some of the best options available:

snow all in one teeth whitening kit

Snow At-Home Teeth Whitening (All-In-One Kit)

Best for Sensitive Teeth

Snow All-In-One LED Teeth Whitening Kit is the #1 bestseller. It offers quick whitening results with 99.3 percent ratings across 500,000+ customers.

The serum is vegan, cruelty-free, enamel-safe, and gluten-free. You can expect noticeably whiter teeth after just three weeks of use (9-minute applications). However, some customers mention seeing results sooner.

According to Snow’s website, 97 percent of customers see results after just one use. One hundred percent see results after three weeks.

Cost: $$$

glo brilliant kit

GLO Science Brilliant Whitening Kit

GLO Brilliant is an innovative and clinically proven teeth whitening device. It combines blue LED light and professional elements of heat. This provides fast, visible results without pain or sensitivity. 

Each GLO vial has enough serum for four applications (one full cycle of treatment). The GLO Brilliant kit includes 10 whitening G-Vials, which will last for 40 applications (10 full treatments). 

The GLO Brilliant Teeth Whitening Device has also received two prestigious Edison Awards. The Edison Awards is an annual competition honoring excellence in new product development.

Cost: $$$

AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Kit, LED Light

AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Kit

AuraGlow is one of the most affordable whitening kits available.

This teeth whitening kit comes with an LED light and comfort fit trays that are used to whiten your top and bottom teeth. The light has a 10-minute timer to keep track of whitening.  

The whitening gel contains 35 percent carbamide peroxide, close to the peroxide level used in professional whitening treatments. It is also vegan, gluten-free, and cruelty-free.

The kit contains 20 treatments for 20 days of whitening. For best results, use AuraGlow for 30 minutes a day. 

Cost: $$

Whitening Strips & Gels 

Whitening strips are thin, virtually invisible strips. They are coated with a peroxide-based whitening gel. The whitening strips should be applied according to the label on the packaging.

Initial results are noticeable within a few days. The final results continue for around four months.

Whitening gels are clear and peroxide-based. They are applied with a small brush directly to the surface of the teeth. Instructions differ depending on the strength of the peroxide. 

Results are seen in a few days. The final results remain for approximately four months. They are good for minimal whitening and less severe staining or tooth discoloration. 

Crest  Glamorous White Whitestrips

Crest 3D Whitestrips Glamorous White

The Crest 3DWhite Glamorous White Whitestrips Kit contains 16 full whitening treatments. This includes 14 regular whitening treatments (one upper and one lower strip) and two one-hour express treatments. The one-hour express strips reveal same-day results for a visibly whiter smile.

Crest 3D White Whitestrips have the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance, which means they are safe and effective when used correctly.

Cost: $

Whitening Toothpastes & Mouthwashes

All kinds of toothpaste help combat surface stains as they contain mild abrasives. Some whitening toothpastes feature polishing or chemical agents that deliver additional stain removal properties.

Whitening toothpaste does not contain bleach and can help remove surface stains. However, whitening toothpaste can only lighten the teeth by around one shade. In comparison, prescription-strength whitening products used in a dentist’s office can make your teeth three to eight shades whiter.

Natural Whitening Products

Some natural teeth whitening products include toothpaste, coconut oil, charcoal, and whitening strips. They help remove surface stains but do not change the hue of the tooth.

These natural teeth whitening treatments are usually free of chemicals and contain lower levels of peroxide. As a result, you should not expect dazzling white teeth after use. For more dramatic results, higher concentrations of peroxide are necessary.


What's Next?

Resources

Epple, Matthias et al. “A Critical Review of Modern Concepts for Teeth Whitening.” Dentistry journal vol. 7,3 79. 1 Aug. 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6784469/ 

Carey, Clifton M. “Tooth whitening: what we now know.” The journal of evidence-based dental practice vol. 14 Suppl (2014): 70-6, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4058574/ 

DIY Teeth Whitening: Too Good to Be True?, University of Rochester Medical Center, 2016, https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/publications/health-matters/diy-teeth-whitening-too-good-to-be-true 

Snow® at-Home Teeth Whitening All-in-One Kit, Try Snow, https://www.trysnow.com/pages/snow-teeth-whitening-kit-special-offer 

Glo Brilliant, Glo Science, https://gloscience.com/collections/glo-brilliant-collection 

Real White Teeth Whitening System, Primal Life Organics, https://www.primallifeorganics.com/collections/led-whitener/products/led-teeth-whitener 

Fiorillo, Luca et al. “Dental Whitening Gels: Strengths and Weaknesses of an Increasingly Used Method.” Gels (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 5,3 35. 4 Jul. 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6787621/

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