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 many DIY teeth whitening strategies 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.

Best Overall (Editor’s Pick)GLO

Runner Up Snow

Best on a Budget AuraGlow

Longest LastingPrimal Life

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 strategies 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.

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.

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.

Safe DIY 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.

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

glo lit

GLO

GLO’s teeth whitening system uses guided light optics technology with warm light and heat with a specially formulated hydrogen peroxide whitening gel. The treatment claims to whiten teeth in eight minutes.

The clinically proven product is known to lighten teeth five shades whiter in five days. It is safe to use even on veneers, bridges, and crowns.

Cost: $199

snow all in one teeth whitening kit

Snow

This teeth whitening kit includes whitening wands, an LED activating light, a desensitizing serum, and an exhaustive teeth-whitening guide. 

The formula used is enamel-safe and does not adversely harm your teeth even after several uses. It is free of potent chemicals and promises zero sensitivity.

Cost: $120

AuraGlow Radient Effect kit

AuraGlow

The AuraGlow Deluxe Home Teeth Whitening System is an affordable teeth whitening treatment. The kit includes a hands-free LED whitening device and dental-grade teeth whitening gel to remove stains resulting from tea, coffee, wine, and smoking.

The 35 percent carbamide peroxide teeth whitening gel is designed to whiten the surface of the teeth instantly. The whitening system claims to remove stains in 30 minutes per day. Repeat for seven days for the best results.

Cost: $59.99

primal life real white

Primal Life

The Primal Life teeth whitening system uses the following ingredients to brighten teeth instead of peroxide, bleach, and chemicals:

- Calming, whitening, and vitamin-rich olive oil
- Mineral-rich bentonite
- Diatomaceous earth clays
- Whitening and detoxifying activated charcoal cleansing
- Whitening essential oils

These ingredients help clean the gums and contribute to fresher breath and whiter-looking teeth. The natural gel used is paired with red and blue LED lights to treat the teeth and gums. The red light soothes gum tissue and relieves pain, while blue light accelerates the whitening process. 

Cost: $449

Other At-Home Teeth Whitening Methods

Other than complete whitening kits, there are some other at-home teeth whitening methods to improve your smile:

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. 

Whitening Toothpastes & Mouthwashes

All kinds of toothpaste help combat surface stains as they contain mild abrasives. Some whitening toothpaste 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.

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.

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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