A woman whitens her teeth at home with whitening strips.

At-Home Teeth Whitening Products: Do They Work?

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What’s the first thing you notice about someone? Most people would say a person’s smile. Our smiles have the power to make us feel confident and more attractive. 

The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry found that the color of one’s teeth is one of the most common things people remember about smiles. A brighter, whiter smile is what many of us are after. Unfortunately, scrubbing with charcoal or swishing coconut oil isn’t going to give you the results you want. Many home remedies actually harm your teeth. 

Over-the-counter whitening toothpastes and strips or professional products from your dentist can help you get whiter teeth at home. Learn more about the best ways to whiten your smile. 

What Causes Tooth Discoloration? 

If your pearly whites are starting to look yellow, you may be experiencing one of two types of discoloration. 

  • Extrinsic discoloration. Foods, beverages and tobacco leave stains on our outer tooth enamel, which causes yellowing. Coffee, tea, wine, dark sodas and foods with dyes can stain your teeth. 
  • Intrinsic discoloration. Medications, like antibiotics and antihistamines, can affect the softer dentin beneath the tooth’s outer enamel and cause discoloration. Trauma to the tooth and certain illnesses can also change the color of your smile. 

Tooth enamel naturally wears down as we age. As our outer enamel thins, more of the yellowish dentin inside may become visible.

Over-the-Counter Products: How to Whiten Teeth At Home

Whitening products are made of carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide, which are both bleaching agents. Over-the-counter products contain small concentrations of these agents. With use over time, you can achieve a brighter smile. 

  • Whitening toothpastes. All toothpastes are made to scrub your teeth. Whitening toothpastes contain abrasives and often small amounts of peroxide. These pastes scrub away surface stains to subtly change the appearance of your smile. Whitening toothpastes are safe to use every day.  
  • Whitening mouthwash. A mouth rinse can do more than freshen your breath. Whitening mouthwashes contain amounts of peroxide to help make teeth appear brighter. Most mouthwashes state they are safe to use daily. 
  • Whitening strips. Whitening strips bleach stains. They are coated with a gel that contains a higher peroxide concentration than that of whitening mouthwashes and toothpastes. Using a higher concentration of peroxide means you’ll see results more quickly; however, it also means you may experience greater sensitivity. Follow the manufacturer’s directions on how often to use the whitening strips, and give your teeth a break if they become sensitive. 

When shopping for products, look for the American Dental Association’s seal. Products that qualify for this seal have been approved by the ADA’s Council on Scientific Affairs for safety and effectiveness.

Professional Whitening Products: Get the Smile You Want  

Over-the-counter products take time to see results, and often, the results may be very subtle. The best way to whiten teeth is to go through your dentist, who can provide you with what you need for professional at-home whitening

Your dental office can make you custom-fit trays and a higher strength solution for a customized shade. The trays will help keep the whitening solution from irritating your gums, and you’ll receive instructions directly from someone who knows your teeth—your dentist. Getting guidance from a dentist ensures that you take the necessary measures to keep your teeth healthy while enhancing their appearance. 

Are you ready for sparkling teeth? Whether you’re thinking about whitening for the first time or you’ve tried several products, it’s time to talk to a dentist. 

Contact our family dentistry learn more about whitening at home and what’s right for your smile.