Oral Health
Teeth Straightening
Teeth Whitening
Updated on May 19, 2023
8 min read

DIY Teeth Whitening: Is It Safe?

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Many people want to whiten their teeth using affordable, at-home methods. One survey of cosmetic dentists in 2012 showed that 25% of dental patients reported using DIY teeth whitening products.3 

Depending on which product or homemade teeth whitener you use, DIY teeth whitening can be safe and effective. However, some methods come with risks, so you should avoid them. 

What is DIY Teeth Whitening?

DIY teeth whitening methods allow you to brighten your teeth at home. They include natural remedies and teeth whitening products you can purchase over the counter.

Teeth begin to yellow with age. DIY teeth whitening methods may slow or reverse the process. They can also remove stains from your teeth.

What Makes Teeth Look Yellow?

Your teeth naturally grow yellower over time due to several reasons:

  • Dark foods and beverages — Consuming dark foods and drinks over a long period can stain your teeth.1
  • Smoking — Smoking cigarettes can lead to tooth discoloration.2
  • Plaque buildup — Plaque and tartar can appear yellow when they’re allowed to accumulate.
  • Enamel erosion — When enamel wears away, it reveals the dentin underneath. Dentin is a naturally more yellow layer of your teeth.

If your tooth discoloration doesn’t have a negative underlying cause, it’s not dangerous for your teeth to be yellow. Nevertheless, many people want to improve the esthetics of their smile.

Is DIY Whitening Safe and Effective?

While some DIY whitening solutions are safe and effective, not all are. Some tips may even have negative consequences. Always discuss any tooth whitening method, professional or DIY, with your dentist.

What About Natural Tooth Whitening Remedies?

If you do a quick internet search, you’ll find many natural remedies claiming to whiten your teeth. However, not all of these are safe or effective.

Using an over-the-counter whitening kit is usually safer than a DIY natural technique. If you prefer natural, homemade teeth whiteners, here are a few that are safe to try:

  • Baking soda — Sodium bicarbonate is safe for limited use on teeth, and it may lighten your teeth over time. You can add it to your toothpaste or make a paste out of baking soda and water.
  • Eating more fruits and vegetables — Eating crunchy raw fruits and veggies may clear away some plaque on your teeth. However, it’s no substitute for a diligent oral hygiene practice.
  • Limiting dark foods and drinks — If you avoid dark food and drinks, like red wine, coffee, and soda, you may slow the yellowing process on your teeth. Drinking them through a straw minimizes contact time with your teeth, which may also decrease the risk of staining. 

What are the Risks of DIY Teeth Whitening?

Some DIY teeth whitening strategies are capable of lightening your teeth safely. However, other popular methods aren’t safe or effective. 

It’s essential you know the risks of any DIY teeth whitening method. Some of the negative consequences of an unsafe DIY teeth whitening method include:

  • Weakening or erosion of tooth enamel
  • Uneven tooth color
  • Gum irritation
  • Allergic reaction
  • Tooth sensitivity

Always talk to your dentist before you use any natural or over-the-counter teeth whitening technique. 

Some methods that may not be safe or effective include:

Charcoal Whitening Products

Charcoal has become popular in many whitening products, including powdered charcoal and charcoal whitening strips. Some believe charcoal can pull toxins from the mouth and remove stains from the teeth.

Studies show charcoal has no greater whitening effect than fluoridated toothpaste.4 It has an abrasive quality that can erode enamel, which can lead to yellower teeth. 

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

Hydrogen Peroxide

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

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

Do not whiten your teeth with hydrogen peroxide alone; always consult your dentist if you want to use it as an ingredient. Professional-grade whitening products use lower concentrations of the chemical to whiten teeth safely.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice and baking soda is another popular DIY teeth whitening treatment. However, acidic fruits like lemons can lead to dental issues like:

  • Enamel erosion
  • Cavities and tooth decay
  • Tooth sensitivity

Do not use lemons or any other acidic fruits to whiten your teeth.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Some people recommend using apple cider vinegar in homemade mouthwash. However, there is no scientific evidence that this helps whiten teeth. 

Vinegar contains acid, weakening the enamel and leading 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. However, oil pulling is generally considered safe if you want to try it.

What DIY Teeth Whitening Method Should You Choose?

Your choice of DIY teeth whitening method will depend on your goals, budget, and advice from your dentist. You should never apply any product or substance to your teeth without talking to your dentist first.

Whether you prefer a natural remedy or an over-the-counter product, DIY teeth whitening methods have benefits and risks. 

If you're looking for a personalized whitening treatment regimen, Laughland teeth whitening offers at-home custom teeth whitening based on your lifestyle.

There’s no one right decision for everyone. Make an appointment with your dentist to discuss your options.

Which At-Home Whitening Products are Safe?

Our experts at NewMouth recommend purchasing pre-made products online or from your local drugstore. 

Everything We Recommend

Best Overall (Editor's Pick): Snow At-Home Teeth Whitening All-in-One Kit

Best for Sensitivity: hismile VIO405™ Teeth Whitening Kit

Fastest Results: Glo Brilliant Teeth Whitening Device

Best on a Budget: AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Kit

Best Whitening Strips: Crest 3D Whitestrips Glamorous White

Snow Teeth Whitening

Best Overall & Best for Sensitive Teeth
Snow Whitening 1

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

The well-packaged and easy-to-use system delivers a professional-level whitening experience at an affordable price. The serum is enamel-safe for those with sensitive teeth and gums. 

hismile VIO405™ Teeth Whitening Kit

Best for Sensitivity
Hismile kit 1

hismile's teeth whitening kit is a peroxide-free alternative. It uses three powerful, enamel-safe ingredients to provide instant results without any sensitivity:

  1. Hydroxyapatite (nHAp) rebuilds the protective layer of teeth and replaces lost minerals.
  2. Phthalimidoperoxycaproicacid (PAP) is clinically proven to whiten teeth without sensitivity or gum irritation.
  3. Potassium citrate helps relieve pre-existing sensitivity and provides long-term protection.

Sale: up to 40% off bundles

GLO Brilliant Deluxe Teeth Whitening Device Kit

Fastest Results
GLO Brilliant Deluxe Teeth Whitening Device Kit

GLO Brilliant uses LED lights as well as heat to give you faster results. This kit is for people who want white teeth quickly. Applications only take 8 minutes. They suggest completing four back-to-back applications each day for five straight days, or until you’re pleased with the results. This is a fast and effective whitening process, but it is the most expensive item on our list.

AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Kit

Best on a Budget

AuraGlow is an easy-to-use home tooth whitening system that uses an advanced 35% carbamide peroxide whitening solution and led lights to give you whiter teeth. There are approximately 20 treatments included. Use daily for 30 minutes to remove discoloration and gain optimal brightening results.

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 3D Whitestrips Glamorous White

Best Whitening Strips
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.

Before you use any 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.


DIY teeth whitening can be safe and effective when chosen with care. You can choose over-the-counter whitening kits or natural, at-home remedies like baking soda.

Be aware of the risks that come with DIY teeth whitening methods. Some that aren’t proven safe or effective may cause enamel erosion, tooth decay, and gum irritation.

Always talk to your dentist before trying any teeth whitening method.

Last updated on May 19, 2023
8 Sources Cited
Last updated on May 19, 2023
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Zhao, X., et al. “Effects of different discoloration challenges and whitening treatments on dental hard tissues and composite resin restorations.” Journal of Dentistry, National Library of Medicine, 2019.
  2. Alkhatib, M., et al. “Smoking and tooth discolouration: findings from a national cross-sectional study.” BMC Public Health, National Library of Medicine, 2005.
  3. Whitening Survey, 2012.” American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, 2012.
  4. Vural, U., et al. “Effects of charcoal-based whitening toothpastes on human enamel in terms of color, surface roughness, and microhardness: an in vitro study.” Clinical Oral Investigations, National Library of Medicine, 2021.
  5. Epple, M., et al. “A Critical Review of Modern Concepts for Teeth Whitening.” Dentistry Journal, National Library of Medicine, 2019.
  6. Carey, C. “Tooth whitening: what we now know.” The Journal of Evidence-based Dental Practice, National Library of Medicine, 2015.
  7. Malmstrom, H. “DIY Teeth Whitening: Too Good to Be True?” University of Rochester Medical Center, 2016.
  8. Fiorillo, L., et al. “Dental Whitening Gels: Strengths and Weaknesses of an Increasingly Used Method.” Gels, National Library of Medicine, 2019.
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