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How can I Whiten my Teeth at Home?

Tricia Christensen
By
Updated Jan 25, 2024
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There are several methods to whiten your teeth at home using peroxide based formulas. Each has benefits and some minimal risk of side effects, which is mainly gum irritation. None are as effective as professional dental whitening. The principal ways in which you can whiten your teeth at home are the following:

  • Paint on substances,
  • Whitening toothpaste
  • Whitening strips
  • Whitening gel

Paint or brush on formulas are among the cheapest methods to whiten your teeth, usually about 5-10 US dollars (USD) at a local drugstore. After brushing your teeth in the morning or evening, you simply apply a whitening formula to the teeth. This will probably work on teeth that only need to be lightened a few shades. Very yellow teeth, and teeth stained through use of medications like tetracycline are unlikely to respond to this method.

The disadvantage of brush on formulas to whiten your teeth is that you are instructed to keep you teeth completely dry for about a minute after you apply the formula. The mouth works against this because it constantly produces saliva, especially right after you have brushed your teeth. This can lead to undesirable results, when areas of the teeth you have treated are touched by saliva; in other words, you can get white spots on the teeth. On the plus side, careful application of brush on formula means minimal amounts get on the gums, so irritated gums are unlikely.

If you have only minimal staining, whitening toothpaste is clearly the easiest way to whiten your teeth at home. Brushing two to three times a day can whiten your teeth four to five shades after about a month of consistent use. Formulas for tooth whitening toothpaste are all about equivalent in effect, but kids under 16 should not use them. They can cause irritation to the gums and teeth of younger kids.

Teeth whitening strips may be more appropriate for the person who has more yellow teeth. These are plastic strips coated on one side with hydrogen peroxide. They can be used nightly for two to four weeks depending upon the degree to which you want to produce a lighter shade. They still are not as effective as dental whitening, but they can create lighter teeth. Most four-week kits cost between 20-40 USD. The strips don’t necessarily adhere completely to the teeth, and there may be more whitening in front than in the back of each tooth.

You can also whiten your teeth at home with gels that are placed in mouth guards and worn at night. This is often the same procedure a dentist uses to whiten your teeth, but the peroxide level is weaker in over the counter kits. Further, mouth guards are custom made for people at the dentist. Finding a mouth guard that fits properly may be problematic with over the counter sets.

Some sets now come with flexible mouth guards that can be molded to the teeth after being soaked in warm water. You should definitely look for these, since improperly fitting mouth guards can let peroxide solution leak to the gums where it can cause gum irritation. Whitening your teeth at home with gel kits can range in cost from about 40-100 USD.

You can also try a few home remedies to whiten your teeth, though not all dentists recommend them. Brushing the teeth with baking soda can produce slightly lighter shades. You can also brush with no greater than 10% strength hydrogen peroxide. For drug store methods, gel kits are thought most effective, and brush on teeth whitener the least. However, with minimal tooth yellowing, over the counter remedies are less expensive than dental whitening, and may provide you with the lighter shade you desire.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon58333 — On Jan 01, 2010

my sisters teeth are yellow. help. signed, ewwww

By anon30266 — On Apr 16, 2009

Can teeth stained by tetracycline be whitened?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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