Smiling is one of the beautiful things that make us human, and science shows that it’s actually good for you. Research has shown that smiling “spurs a chemical reaction in the brain, releasing certain hormones including dopamine and serotonin.”1 And what’s the best way to inspire confidence in your smile? By rocking a set of sparkling white teeth, of course.
Even if you brush and floss every day, you might be interested in turning up the brightness even more with teeth whitening treatment.
Popular Teeth Whitening Methods
So, you’ve decided to whiten your teeth. Now comes the tricky part: deciding which type of whitening treatment is right for you. With so many options flooding the market including professional bleaching, over the counter, and DIY lightening products, making the decision is harder than ever.
That’s why we’re here to break down the different types of teeth whitening methods available.
Different Types of Whitening Products
When taking a look at the best teeth whitening methods, the first thing to do is to decide whether you are looking for a professional whitening done by a dentist or oral hygienist or utilizing self-lightening techniques.
If you are concerned with is teeth whitening harmful, going to the dentist is the most trustworthy and effective choice.
- Some dentists will use a special blue light that has been found to increase the oxidation of chromogens,2 which chemically helps get rid of discoloration.
- Professional whitening at a dentist’s office works faster because dentists safeguard your mouth before chemically lightening. This means they can perform the procedure with higher concentrations of whitening solutions, like peroxide, and give you a brighter smile after a single treatment.
- Dentists are experienced with a wide array of whitening styles, performing in-office bleaching on different types of stains on the tooth surface.
- They deliver personalized service, looking at everything from your medical record to your level of dental sensitivity in order to choose the best whitening solutions for you.
- Professional whitening greatly reduces the risk of complications like sensitive teeth and gingival damage because the whitening is carefully monitored.
Along with a trip to the dentist, teeth whitening can also be done in the comfort of your own home. Every method has unique whitening chemicals and instructions, so make sure to vet the products you choose to ensure that they are beneficial and functional.
- Toothpaste – Whitening toothpaste typically has higher levels of brightening agents than your average toothpaste to get rid of stubborn stains. Whitening toothpaste doesn’t use bleaching products, but some contain “low concentrations of carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide that help lighten tooth color.”2
- Strips – Whitening strips are a common at-home bleaching solution. They use a “thin layer of peroxide gel on plastic strips shaped to fit onto the buccal surfaces of the teeth.”2 However, research has shown that collagen, particularly in the dentin layer, thinned out when the teeth were treated using teeth whitening strips.3 Though, whether there are long-term side effects isn’t clear.
- Gels– Whitening gels also are carbamide peroxide-based, and are applied with a small brush directly onto the teeth.
- Rinses – Whitening rinses contain sources of oxygen-hydrogen peroxide, for example—to react with chromogens to speed up the lightening process.2
- Tray-Based Teeth Whiteners – This method utilizes a fitted tray containing carbamide peroxide-bleaching gel.2 Although this can be done at home, some dentists also use teeth whitening trays with gel.
- Charcoal Scrubs – Activated charcoal toothpaste and scrubs are blowing up in popularity, but no evidence that shows whitening products with charcoal are safe or effective. They don’t have ADA or FDA approval and could even soften the enamel, leaving teeth more yellow than when you started.
Natural Whitening Remedies
You may be wondering how to whiten your teeth naturally? Along with store-bought whitening products, there are also methods of natural teeth lightening
- Oil Pulling–Oil pulling is done by swishing coconut oil around your mouth, which is said to remove toxins and decrease plaque. More research needs to be done to determine its effectiveness, but oil pulling is safe to try.
- Baking Soda – Baking soda is a light abrasive, so it can help to scrub problematic, stubborn microbes away. Combine it with water to make a paste or purchase toothpaste with baking soda.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Apple Cider Vinegar will remove stains from teeth as well, but the acidity in vinegar can soften and even erode the enamel on the surface of your teeth if done incorrectly.
The best way to achieve a white smile is by keeping up with your oral hygiene. Dentists and hygienists both recommend flossing as the best way to maintain whiteness, as it clears away bacteria that could cause discoloration. To make the flossing and brushing process easier and more effective, consider getting a water flosser.
Feel free to try out different methods of teeth whitening to see what works best for you, and be sure to use caution. Especially with at-home whiteners, there is a potential for overuse and misuse that could lead to things like sensitivity and even tooth and gum damage. Follow the instructions and be patient! Whitening is bound to give you another reason to smile.
- NBC News. Smiling can trick your brain into happiness — and boost your health. https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/smiling-can-trick-your-brain-happiness-boost-your-health-ncna822591
- NCBI. Tooth Whitening: What We Now Know. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4058574/#R16
- ScienceDaily. Teeth whitening products can harm protein-rich tooth layer. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190409135928.htm