How to Whiten Your Teeth and Get Rid of Tooth Stains
A bright smile can be a beacon of confidence, but often, dietary habits like consuming coffee or tea, lifestyle choices such as smoking, or the natural aging process can leave their mark, leading to tooth discoloration.
Teeth whitening has emerged as a promising solution for those aiming to reclaim the natural gleam of their smile. With a broad array of whitening options available, from the convenience of at-home products to the personalized care of professional dental treatments, there is a solution for almost every smile.1
How Whitening Treatments Work
Teeth can become stained in two ways: through surface stains linked to daily habits such as smoking or drinking coffee, and through deeper stains that penetrate the enamel, often due to mouth injuries, certain drugs, or aging.1 Whitening treatments work to lighten teeth by using bleaching agents like hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide that breaks down stain molecules.2 The process works by breaking down the stain deposits through a chemical reaction known as oxidation. This can effectively diminish the appearance of stains and bring out a brighter, whiter smile. The effectiveness of these treatments can vary, with some designed for surface stains and others, with stronger concentrations, capable of addressing deeper discoloration.3
Best Ways to Whiten Your Teeth At Home
Use Teeth Whitening Products
At-home teeth whitening has surged in popularity as a convenient and cost-effective method for enhancing one’s smile. Available in various forms, such as whitening toothpaste, mouthwashes, strips, paint-on gels, mouth trays with gel, and whitening gum, these DIY products typically use hydrogen peroxide as the active ingredient.4 While these over-the-counter options are deemed generally safe, it is advisable to consult with a dentist if you have any pre-existing dental issues.
Whiten Teeth With Baking Soda Containing Toothpastes
Brushing with toothpastes containing baking soda has been shown to provide a tooth whitening effect.4 The abrasive nature of baking soda allows it to polish away surface stains from the teeth, making it an effective agent for removing discolorations caused by consuming certain foods or drinks.5
Keep Up Your Oral Hygiene Routine
Maintaining a 3-step oral care routine that includes brushing, flossing, and rinsing with a mouthwash is essential for overall dental health and can contribute to teeth whitening.2
Brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, such as LISTERINE® ESSENTIAL CARE® Fluoride Anticavity Toothpaste, helps remove surface stains and prevents decay, which can keep teeth looking whiter.
Flossing is crucial for removing plaque and food particles between teeth, areas that are difficult for a toothbrush to reach. This not only contributes to the health of the gums but can also prevent discoloration in these often-neglected spaces.
Rinsing with an effective mouthwash like LISTERINE® ULTRACLEAN® COOL MINT® Antiseptic Mouthwash helps reduce tartar buildup, which not only ensures a healthier mouth but can also help maintain the natural whiteness of your teeth.
Teeth Whitening Safety Tips
Teeth whitening, when conducted properly, is safe, yet it carries potential risks if products are misused or applied too frequently. Aggressive whitening can lead to gum irritation, tooth sensitivity, and even tooth damage,1 so moderation is key to maintaining your dental health while achieving a brighter smile.
How much is too much? Adhere to the recommended frequency of at-home treatments following your dentist's advice or the manufacturer's instructions, which typically range from every six months to a year and a half, based on your lifestyle and oral care routine. If you notice your teeth appearing less shiny or developing white spots, it is a sign you might be whitening too often. Aim for a natural shade that is a shade slightly whiter than the whites of your eyes, and limit touch-ups to once a month,7 or even less frequently once the desired whiteness is achieved.
Have a Dentist Whiten Your Teeth
Opting for an in-office teeth whitening treatment with a relatively high concentration of bleaching gel is often considered the safest and most effective method for achieving a gleaming smile.8 This professional approach not only ensures the protection of your enamel but also maintains overall oral hygiene. During the procedure, your dentist will carry out a comprehensive cleaning and assessment of your oral health to customize the treatment. To safeguard your gums during whitening, your dentist will use a protective layer. Then, a peroxide-based gel is applied to your teeth to brighten your smile to your desired shade.8 While dentist-administered whitening is typically more costly than over-the-counter products, it is a worthy investment for those seeking reliable and enduring teeth whitening results.
- ADA. Whitening. Retrieved from: https://www.ada.org/resources/research/science-and-research-institute/oral-health-topics/whitening
- Mouthhealthy. Teeth Whitening. Retrieved from: https://www.mouthhealthy.org/all-topics-a-z/teeth-whitening
- Eachempati P, Kumbargere Nagraj S, Kiran Kumar Krishanappa S, Gupta P, Yaylali IE. Home-based chemically-induced whitening (bleaching) of teeth in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2018;2018(12). doi:10.1002/14651858.CD006202.pub2
- Healthline. How to Whiten Your Teeth Naturally at Home: 10 Things to Try. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/whiten-teeth-naturally
- Li Y. Stain removal and whitening by baking soda dentifrice. J Am Dent Assoc. 2017;148(11):S20-S26. doi:10.1016/j.adaj.2017.09.006
- Pleasant Family Dentistry. 6 Natural Ways To Whiten Your Teeth: Pleasant Family Dentistry: General Dentists. Retrieved from: https://www.pleasantfamilydentistry.com/blog/6-natural-ways-to-whiten-your-teeth
- WebMD. An Overview of Teeth Whitening. WebMD. Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/teeth-whitening
- Your Dentistry Guide. Professional Teeth Whitening | Dentist-administered Whitening Treatments. Retrieved from: https://www.yourdentistryguide.com/professional-whitening/