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How to Whiten Teeth Instantly

Alyssa Hill Headshot
Written by
Alyssa Hill
Medically Reviewed by 
Dr. Erica Anand
8 Sources Cited

What Causes Tooth Stains?

Intrinsic and extrinsic stains cause tooth discoloration. Both types of staining may affect all or only a few of your teeth. Discoloration can also develop after certain restorative dental procedures.8 

Dark-colored substances commonly cause extrinsic tooth stains. This includes foods and drinks like red wine, coffee, and tea, as well as tobacco products.

Poor oral hygiene can also cause extrinsic tooth discoloration. These stains are located on tooth surfaces and tend to develop where the enamel is thin and rough. Cracks in tooth enamel also increase the risk of extrinsic stains.5

Intrinsic tooth stains can be caused by natural aging, certain medications like tetracycline, tooth injuries, certain diseases, or tooth defects. As people age, their enamel becomes thinner, which exposes more dentin. This results in progressively darker tooth color.7

While tooth stains are inevitable, there are ways to whiten teeth instantly.

Treatments can include: 

  • DIY methods
  • Over-the-counter whitening products
  • At-home whitening kits
  • Professional whitening treatments

What is the Difference Between 'Bleaching' and 'Whitening?'

The terms “tooth bleaching” and “tooth whitening” are often used interchangeably. However, they are not actually the same.

Tooth bleaching is a process that involves an oxidative chemical that alters tooth color, increasing whiteness. By definition, tooth bleaching is the “removal of intrinsic or acquired discolorations of natural teeth through the use of chemicals.” 4 

In contrast, tooth whitening is the process that results in whiter teeth, whether or not chemicals are used.5 Whitening can include bleaching with or without peroxides (e.g., hydrogen peroxide) to remove surface stains.

4 Ways to Whiten Teeth Instantly

Here are four effective ways to whiten teeth fast:

1. At-Home LED Whitening Kits

LED teeth whitening uses a bleaching agent and a light-emitting diode (LED) light to brighten your teeth. 

An LED light alone will not whiten your teeth. However, when used with a tooth-whitening agent like hydrogen peroxide, the light helps speed up the whitening process.

As this interaction occurs, the blue LED light penetrates your enamel and lifts stains.

There are many LED teeth whitening kits to choose from, and they are relatively inexpensive compared to professional treatments.

The whitening results are not instant, but you should notice results after three to five uses (depending on the brand).

glo whitening brilliant 2

2. Over-The-Counter Whitening Products

Whitening toothpaste and mouthwash are popular over-the-counter options for stain removal.

These products typically contain hydrogen peroxide or baking soda, which help kill bacteria and whiten teeth.

Opt for a mouth rinse like Colgate Optic White Whitening Mouthwash that helps protect against tooth decay and brightens your smile. 

Colgate Optic White Mouthwash

Whitening toothpaste can be abrasive if used excessively. Overuse can lead to enamel erosion or dentin exposure. Only use whitening toothpaste about once a week to prevent these effects. 

3. Professional Teeth Whitening Treatment

Professional teeth whitening is the safest and quickest way to whiten your teeth. Although effective, these treatments are expensive, but the results can last up to a year. 

In-office whitening treatments take about an hour. They can make your teeth two to three shades lighter in one visit. 

All of the following whitening treatments have a similar active ingredient (hydrogen or carbamide peroxide). Some incorporate the use of an LED light to provide quicker whitening:

  • Zoom! will make your teeth visibly whiter in less than an hour. With proper care, the whitening effects can last up to a year. Zoom whitening costs about $500 per treatment.
  • Opalescence™ Boost™ uses a chemically activated gel to provide brighter teeth within an hour. It does not incorporate the use of a light. This treatment costs about $500.
  • KöR whitening uses a continuously refrigerated, high-potency gel. This scientifically designed application system delivers noticeably brighter teeth after just one use. KöR costs anywhere between $500 and $1,000. 

4. DIY Baking Soda Paste

Baking soda-based pastes are effective and safe for tooth stain removal and whitening. Many clinical studies have shown that baking soda pastes are more effective in stain removal than some highly abrasive, non–baking soda whitening mixtures.5

Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with 1 tablespoon of water, and then apply it to your teeth with a toothbrush. Leave it on for 2 to 3 minutes. Rinse your mouth thoroughly. Your teeth should look brighter.

How Does Baking Soda Whiten Teeth?

Baking soda whitens teeth in two different ways:

  1. Baking soda removes plaque on teeth due to its abrasive properties
  2. It also contains alkaline powder, which helps lift surface stains

Keep in mind that baking soda can only remove superficial stains (extrinsic). Deeper stains (intrinsic) typically require professional teeth whitening. 

How Long Does Baking Soda Take to Whiten Teeth?

Baking soda-containing toothpaste takes between two to six weeks to see a difference. If you use a homemade baking soda paste, you'll see results almost instantly.

How Often Should You Brush My Teeth With Baking Soda?

Homemade baking soda pastes should only be used once a week (for two minutes at a time).

Do not overuse baking soda paste because it can erode your enamel and cause sensitivity. If you prefer a non-DIY option, choose whitening treatments such as an LED kit or Crest Whitestrips. 

Can You Whiten Your Teeth in One Day?

The best, safest, and most effective way to whiten your teeth in one day is with professional teeth whitening treatment. Some options include:

  1. Zoom! Chairside whitens teeth quickly and effectively (up to 90% of their maximum brightness). This office whitening treatment is also FDA-approved and takes one hour to complete. 
  2. Opalescence Boost uses a chemically activated gel to brighten teeth within one hour. This treatment does not involve using a light to speed up the whitening process. 
  3. KöR Whitening uses a refrigerated, high-potency gel. This gel is combined with a scientifically designed application system to deliver visibly whiter teeth after just one use. KöR also claims to provide less tooth sensitivity than other leading brands like Zoom.
  4. Sapphire Teeth Whitening is a quick, easy, and pain-free experience that takes about 15 minutes to set up. The entire whitening process only takes an hour. 

While these treatments are effective and produce instant results, they are expensive (up to $1,000 per treatment). However, you only need to undergo professional whitening every six months to a year.

DIY Whitening Methods (Home Remedies) That Don’t Work

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), you should avoid whitening your teeth with:

  1. Apple cider vinegar — vinegar contains acid, which can wear away tooth enamel. Do not apply vinegar directly onto your teeth.
  2. Acidic fruit — naturally acidic foods and drinks can wear away enamel and cause sensitivity, cavities, gum irritation, and/or enamel erosion. Refrain from using oranges, limes, lemons, strawberries, etc., to whiten your teeth. It is still important to eat these fruits as part of a healthy diet, which naturally improves teeth brightness and health.
  3. Baking soda-hydrogen peroxide paste — applying a homemade baking soda-hydrogen peroxide paste directly onto your teeth is abrasive. The mixture's concentration is typically too strong, and overuse can cause enamel erosion. Professional baking soda-peroxide whitening products contain a safe mixture of these two substances. 
  4. Turmeric and other spices — no reliable research shows that turmeric whitens teeth, instead it may cause staining. Although beneficial for your health, herbs and spices will not whiten teeth. 
  5. Oil pulling — oil pulling is an Ayurvedic practice of swishing oil through the teeth and around the mouth. Olive oil and coconut oil are commonly used. This practice can improve bad breath, but it will not remove surface stains. 
  6. Activated charcoal — no reliable evidence shows that charcoal is 100% safe for teeth. Some dentists are also concerned about charcoal's abrasive properties.

How to Prevent Tooth Stains Before They Happen

The best way to prevent tooth discoloration is through diet and lifestyle changes, such as:

Taking Care of Your Teeth 

Follow these oral hygiene tips to help prevent tooth stains:

  • Brush your teeth twice daily for two minutes at a time
  • Floss between your teeth at least once a day 
  • Get professional teeth cleanings every six months
  • Limit or avoid sugary foods and drinks
  • Limit intake of staining products like tea, coffee, dark berries, red wine, etc.
  • Use non-abrasive whitening products a few times a week
  • Avoid tobacco products

Eating a Healthy Diet 

Eating a healthy, balanced diet can prevent tooth discoloration. Many fruits and vegetables also improve teeth brightness, strength, and health. These include, but are not limited to: 

  • Broccoli and other course vegetables — require more chewing to break down, which helps wash away stains by increasing saliva production.
  • Dairy products — also increase saliva production to help prevent and remove stains.
  • Onions — contain sulfur to help prevent plaque build-up on teeth.
  • Celery and carrots — remove debris between teeth due to their high water content. 
  • Pineapple — contains bromelain, an anti-inflammatory compound that helps prevent and remove stains.
  • Nuts and seeds — natural exfoliators that help prevent and remove stains.

Not Smoking or Chewing Tobacco

Tobacco products can cause tooth discoloration. Similar to your skin, your teeth have pores. The tar and nicotine in tobacco easily absorb into these pores, resulting in yellow or brown discoloration over time. Smoking also increases your chance of developing cavities, gum disease, and other oral health conditions. 

Smoking is also extremely harmful to your overall health and can cause cancer, lung infections, and other serious infections. 

How to Whiten Teeth Fast: Questions and Answers

How can I whiten my teeth in 5 minutes?

The best way to whiten your teeth instantly is by using a homemade baking soda paste. Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with 1 tablespoon of water, and then apply it to your teeth. Leave it on for 2 to 3 minutes. Rinse your mouth thoroughly. Your teeth should look brighter.

Note: do not overuse baking soda paste because it can erode your enamel.

How can I whiten my teeth in 30 seconds?

You cannot whiten your teeth in 30 seconds.

Do banana peels whiten teeth?

No evidence suggests that banana peels whiten teeth. The minerals in bananas enhance your dental health, but they will not brighten your smile alone.

Does milk whiten your teeth?

Yes. Dairy products like milk are excellent for your dental health. Milk does not whiten your teeth fast but will gradually brighten them over time. 

Does salt whiten teeth?

Salt is abrasive and can make your teeth look brighter. However, due to its abrasive nature, salt can damage tooth enamel (which is irreversible).

Last updated on April 26, 2022
8 Sources Cited
Last updated on April 26, 2022
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).
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  2. CP;, Hara AT;Turssi. “Baking Soda as an Abrasive in Toothpastes: Mechanism of Action and Safety and Effectiveness Considerations.” Journal of the American Dental Association , U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  3. Hayward, Roche et al. “A clinical study of the effectiveness of a light-emitting diode system on tooth bleaching.” The open dentistry journal vol. 6 : 143-7. doi:10.2174/1874210601206010143.
  4. ISO 28399:2011.” ISO, 10 Mar. 2020.
  5. Li, Yiming. “Stain Removal and Whitening by Baking Soda Dentifrice: A Review of Literature.” The Journal of the American Dental Association, Elsevier, 19 Oct. 2017.
  6. Natural Teeth Whitening: Fact vs. Fiction.” Mouth Healthy TM.
  8. Torabinejad, Mahmoud, et al. Endodontics: Principles and Practice. Elsevier, 2021.
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