If you are looking to brighten your smile, there are effective products available through your dentist that provide fast, noticeable whitening results. However, these treatments are expensive and time-consuming.
Fortunately, there are some easy ways to whiten your teeth at home, including:
These products are inexpensive and more convenient than professional teeth whitening but require extra upkeep.
Our teeth gradually become more yellow over time. A small part of that yellowing process is a natural effect of aging, but the majority of it results from three causes:
The most common cause of yellowing teeth is the buildup of external stains. Over time, as you eat and drink dark-colored foods and beverages, your teeth accumulate dark pigments.
This also occurs with tobacco use, especially smoking. External stains that are not removed on a consistent basis become deeply embedded in the hard tooth structure, which makes them more difficult to remove.
In order to prevent externals stains from accumulating on the teeth, you must avoid these dark-colored substances.
To reduce external teeth stains, limit your intake of:
If you never eat, drink, smoke, or chew anything dark, your teeth will stay relatively white in color.
Intrinsic discoloration forms within your teeth. Causes of intrinsic discoloration include:
Enamel is the only structure in a tooth that is naturally white in color. Even in its most natural state, it is just an off-white color.
The underlying core structure of the tooth is dentin, which is softer and yellower than enamel. As enamel thins, more of the dentin shows through, causing the teeth to appear yellow.
There are several causes of thinning enamel, all of which can be prevented. You have to take preventive measures against the cause itself. These include:
Acidic pH substances are enamel’s kryptonite. They slowly dissolve the enamel, leaving it thinner, weaker, and more translucent. To prevent this, avoid acidic drinks like sodas, sparkling water, fruit juices, beer, and wine.
See your doctor to treat any problems with acid reflux and fight dry mouth (your saliva is a base and counteracts damage from acids).
You can also add remineralizing oral hygiene products, which is a long topic we will have to address in a different article.
Attrition from Clenching & Grinding Teeth
The heavy forces and friction of nighttime clenching and/or grinding lead to a gradual wearing-away of enamel. This is preventable by wearing a protective nightguard to separate and protect the teeth.
Abrasion From Harsh Oral Care Products
Some people feel that using hard toothbrushes and extremely abrasive toothpaste will lead to cleaner teeth. Unfortunately, it will also lead to abrasion or mechanical removal of enamel over time.
Make sure to always use only soft toothbrushes, and ask your dentist for toothpaste recommendations.
People with gum recession, root exposure, and already-thin enamel should stay away from whitening toothpaste, which is abrasive.
It's never been easier to get a bright, white smile. Read our review of the 9 best at-home whitening kits.
You can counteract the process of teeth staining with routine maintenance of your smile. This involves regularly polishing and protecting your enamel. To do this, it takes both professional dental care and home care.
In order to maintain healthy, strong, smooth enamel, you must see a dental hygienist for professional teeth cleanings on a consistent basis. Most people need these cleanings twice a year, but some require them more frequently.
The cleaning itself removes acid-producing bacteria and superficial stains. It also includes a final polishing, which leaves the enamel smoother and more resistant to new stains.
If you tend to have weak enamel, your professional dental care should include an application of fluoride, which hardens and strengthens enamel, fighting erosion, staining, and cavities.
At home, you should make sure you are practicing good oral hygiene. To improve your brushing’s ability to counteract stains, use an electric toothbrush and a whitening toothpaste (with your dentist’s approval). These two, used together, produce whiter teeth.
You should also work to counteract staining from any dark substances by rinsing with water afterward. If you drink multiple cups of coffee in the morning, drink a glass of water after each cup to flush away loose stains and neutralize your mouth.
To remove deep stains that will not polish away, you have to turn to teeth whitening. For the fastest and most noticeable results, you should see your dentist for professional products and procedures.
If you’d like to whiten them at home, there are many over-the-counter products that do work.
Here are two tips for achieving a whitening result with OTC products:
If you want whiter teeth, you don't have to cut out your favorite foods and drinks. There are many effective teeth whitening products to choose from today. From whitening strips to all-in-one LED whitening kits, you can lighten your teeth quickly from the comfort of home.
The following products contain either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide as the main ingredient. This means they are highly effective at whitening teeth. They are also available at a fraction of the cost of professional whitening treatments.
Three of the best whitening kits available today include:
AuraGlow combines professional whitening gel with LED light technology. It costs $60, is safe for enamel, and claims that users will have whitening results in as little as one treatment.
Glo uses an accelerating-warming heat and LED light technology to whiten your teeth. It costs $149 and promises whiter results within days.
Snow claims that users will have whiter teeth in as little as nine minutes per day with its light-activated whitening gel. You can whiten for as long as 30 minutes per session, two times per day for faster results. The kit costs $149.
Whitening strips, gels, toothpaste, and mouthwash are also available. These treatments are inexpensive but require more upkeep than LED whitening kits.
The most effective way to prevent staining is to take good care of your teeth and eat a balanced diet. More specifically, to keep your teeth white long-term, incorporate these tips into your lifestyle:
Also, eat more vegetables, pineapple, dairy products, nuts, seeds, onions, carrots, and celery. All of these foods have been shown to improve tooth brightness and strength.
It’s simple to prevent stains, but most people don’t consider it worth the trouble of avoiding their favorite substances. You can also counteract the staining and remove it with whitening if the idea of skipping your coffee sounds absurd.
Make your smile dazzling. Read our favorite whitening kits.
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“GLO Brilliant Teeth Whitening Device.” GLO Science, GLO Science, https://gloscience.com/products/glo-brilliant-personal-teeth-whitening-device.
Markowitz, Kenneth. “Pretty Painful: Why Does Tooth Bleaching Hurt?” Medical Hypotheses, vol. 74, no. 5, 2010, pp. 835–840, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306987709008019?via%3Dihub.
Perdigão Jorge. Tooth Whitening: an Evidence-Based Perspective. Springer, 2016.
Patil, PA, et al. “Comparison of Effectiveness of Abrasive and Enzymatic Action of Whitening Toothpastes in Removal of Extrinsic Stains – a Clinical Trial.” Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 21 July 2014, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/idh.12090.
“SNOW® AT-HOME TEETH WHITENING ALL-IN-ONE KIT.” TrySnow.com, Snow Cosmetics LLC, www.trysnow.com/pages/snow-teeth-whitening-kit-special-offer.
“Teeth Whitening Kit.” AuraGlow, AuraGlow, https://auraglow.com/products/teeth-whitening-kit.
“Tooth Discoloration: Causes, Treatment & Prevention.” Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/10958-tooth-discoloration.
“Whitening: 5 Things to Know About Getting a Brighter Smile.” Mouth Healthy TM, https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/w/whitening.