Uploaded August 22, 2017
“These days, there are so many teeth whitening products on the market that the very idea of brightening your smile can become more overwhelming than exciting. Should you invest in teeth whitening kits or trays? Toothpaste or gel? Strips or pens? And which of the bajillion treatments available garner the best results—or any results at all?
Then there’s the biggest question of all: Is it better to whiten your teeth at home or at the dentist’s office? “When you choose to whiten at home, you’re choosing to take a slow and steady approach to whitening, which translates to less side effects, such as tooth sensitivity,” says New York-based cosmetic dentist Edward Alvarez, DDS. “You’ll also have a healthier mouth overall because you’re using products that will increase the pH of your mouth for a sustained period of time, ultimately killing bacteria and lessening decay.”
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Well, that settles that—and let’s not forget how much money you’ll save. But still, which teeth whitening treatments are worth the money you do spend? Here, dental pros share their top product recommendations:
If you prefer a teeth whitening toothpaste, make sure it doesn’t contain any harsh abrasives or irritating chemicals. “Otherwise, you lose healthy enamel, which can make your teeth yellower and possibly more sensitive in the long run,” says Hugh Flax, DDS, of Flax Dental in Atlanta. (Always avoid these 4 harmful toothpaste ingredients.)
His top teeth whitening pick? Jason Natural PowerSmile Antiplaque & Whitening Toothpaste. It contains natural, gentle ingredients (such as bamboo powder and baking soda) to prevent tartar buildup while whitening and brightening your smile.
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If you’re happy to devote 30 minutes a day to a highly effective treatment, try Crest Whitestrips. They contain enamel-safe ingredients that don’t cause sensitivity during wear, and they’re the only whitening strips that have a seal of approval from the American Dental Association. They’re easy to use, comfortable to wear, and yield excellent results for an OTC teeth whitening treatment, says Dovi Prero, board-certified orthodonist and member of the California Association of Orthodontists.
Prefer a portable whitener? “Zoom Whitening pens are a highly effective method of teeth whitening,” says Toronto-based endodontist Gary Glassman, DDS. “Not only do they contain high quality teeth whitening gel, but they offer the most convenience and ease of application.” (Here are 5 home remedies to keep your teeth from getting yellower.)
They’re also more effective than strips, Glassman adds, because they have a silicone rubber tip that can penetrate the enamel, allowing for the whitening gel to work on all layers of your teeth. Cha. Ching.
As far as teeth whitening kits go, Supersmile’s 6 Minutes to a Whiter Smile kit is tough to beat because it safely whitens and re-mineralizes teeth, including dental restorations (bonding, caps, veneers, and dentures), says New York-based prosthodontist Bijan Gohari, DMD. This kit is also 75% less abrasive than the limit set by the American Dental Association, so you won’t have to worry about teeth sensitivity rearing its ugly… molars. (Got a toothache? Here are 7 reasons for dental discomfort other than a cavity.)
Check out this video on how to use fruit to whiten your smile… yes, we said fruit:
This gentle, whitening toothpaste doesn’t just remove stains—it also helps in the fight against cavities and tooth decay, says Victoria Veytsman, DDS, of Cosmetic Dental Studios in Manhattan. If you have temperamental teeth, there’s a special version for you that includes potassium nitrate for sensitivity relief. Basically, this is the superhero your mouth needs.
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Using charcoal as a teeth whitener sounds counterintuitive, but hear us out: The charcoal is abrasive, so it will remove any buildup and external stains, while serving as a little magnet to pull out the deeper ones, too. (Here are 8 more healthy uses for activated charcoal to try—and 3 to skip.)
“An added benefit is that the charcoal will serve to raise the pH in your mouth, which can help protect your teeth from cavities, since they’re formed by acids on your teeth,” says Alvarez. Use a food grade activated charcoal made from coconut or bamboo (certified organic is a plus), he suggests.
Wet your toothbrush, dip it into the charcoal and lightly brush your teeth—again, charcoal is abrasive, so if you brush too hard it can damage or dull both your enamel and any dental restorations you may have. Keep rinsing your mouth until the water runs clear, then brush your teeth with your regular toothpaste.
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ACV contains about 5% acetic acid, which serves to break down tartar and calculus (that hard, yellow gunk stuck between your lower teeth), says Alvarez, and is similar to the acidic solutions dentists use to get tartar and stains off of dentures and mouth guards. A word of caution though: Use too much of it, and it will start to break down your enamel and make you more susceptible to cavities.
Use it as a rinse no more than once a week, says Alvarez, then lightly brush with your toothpaste after you’ve swished. It’s also best to rinse with it in the morning. “When we sleep, we have less saliva in our mouths, and saliva buffers acid,” says Alvarez. “Having a low pH from the apple cider vinegar, without the effects of the saliva buffering, can lead to greater softening of the enamel.”
Mastering how to whiten teeth when they’re super-sensitive can be a tricky business. Fortunately, Sensodyne True White is 10 times less abrasive than many leading whitening toothpastes. “The low-abrasion formula gently lifts stains from the surface of teeth, while also providing active stain protection that works to create a protective shield to help prevent new stains from sticking to the tooth’s surface,” says Jim DiMarino, DMD, New Jersey-based dentist and director of medical affairs in the oral care division at GSK Consumer Healthcare.