Teeth whitening at home, rather than a costly and difficult trip to the dentist, has a lot of appeal. However, many DIY teeth whitening methods have the potential to harm your gums and nerves, as well as strip enamel and expose teeth to deterioration (and quick discolouration, which is exactly what you don’t want).
The good news is that there are safe and effective teeth-whitening techniques that may be done at home. Many of these techniques are also preventative in that they extend the life of previous whitening attempts and shorten the time between them.
Here are our best picks:
- Hire a professional cleaning service on a regular basis.
We talked to renowned aesthetic dentist Dr. Michael Apa of Apa Aesthetic in NYC, LA, and Dubai for further tips. He emphasized that teeth whitening should be part of a larger dental care routine, and that a professional will always be able to whiten teeth better and faster. With such caveats in mind, he devised an eight-step approach for at-home teeth whitening.
Dr. Apa isn’t opposed to whitening strips or gel trays that can be used at home. Even with the best DIY whitening procedures, he says, you should have had a professional dental cleaning in the month or two before to use them. This manner, your teeth and gums are in tip-top shape, and there is no plaque buildup that could provide a contrasting impact after the whitening procedure. Not to mention that it keeps you on top of your oral hygiene.
You might not think so, but healthy gums are essential for brighter teeth: “Bleaching is a horrible idea if a patient’s gum health is not top notch.” Because the area is so sensitive, inflamed, puffy gums can be a symptom of poor dental hygiene and contribute to a vicious cycle of inadequate brushing and flossing.”
- Consume staining foods and beverages with caution.
Rather of cutting back on the tooth-staining foods you enjoy, Dr. Apa advocates for “conscious consumption.” “Stay hydrated by drinking water to keep your skin looking bright. And drink colored beverages (such as coffee and tea) with a straw,” he advises. “Biting into roughage and textured foods can help eliminate debris in between brushing and flossing,” he adds, citing the old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
Alternatively, you should brush as soon as possible after drinking items like red sauce, alcohol, coffee, soda, and the like. He adds, “Regular brushing and flossing are small actions that can make a tremendous impact in minimizing stains.”
- Have a post-whitening buffer on hand.
Allow 48 hours for your enamel to repair and rebuild after any treatment. Because teeth are porous, anything staining has a lot easier time settling inside those pores during this sensitive phase. This is a quick way to undo whatever brightness progress you’ve made. “Avoid foods and drinks that include a lot of color, such as berries, red sauce, coffee, and red wine,” Apa advises. “If anything will stain a white t-shirt, it will stain your teeth,” we constantly say.
- Brush your teeth with a sonic toothbrush
Apa advises his patients to wash their teeth using a sonic toothbrush. He explains, “The vibration provides for a deeper clean and gets between the tooth and gumline in a way that a traditional toothbrush cannot.” “Also, pay attention to the brush’s angulation; it should be parallel to the gumline.”
- Floss once a day and brush twice a day.
Brush twice a day and floss once a day, according to Apa, if you want to keep your teeth whiter for longer. “Not only will this habit help with things like discoloration, but it will also boost dental health. Also, remember to visit your dentist twice a year for basic cleanings and examinations.
- Use a toothpaste that helps to strengthen your teeth’s enamel.
When it comes to toothpaste, look for a “whitening” paste that encourages enamel repair and growth. This is because enamel reinforcement is one of the most effective ways to prevent stains. One of our favorite whitening toothpastes, containing the enamel-building component hydroxyapatite, is made by Dr. Apa himself.
- Play a gentler, slower-paced brightening game.
For an ADA-approved approach to DIY whitening treatments, you have two choices: Anything non-abrasive that whitens without peroxide, such as 10% carbamide peroxide or 3.6 percent hydrogen peroxide. Slower, spaced-out treatments (intervals vary by product) are significantly safer for your teeth and gums than quick-fix treatments with dangerous ingredients. According to Apa, hydrogen peroxide is faster acting and has a higher sensitivity than carbamide peroxide, which is slower acting and has a lesser sensitivity. If you have to choose between the two, carbamide peroxide is the less abrasive alternative.
This Colage pen is an excellent hydrogen peroxide choice, and these Limineux strips are gentle on the skin.
- Recognize that professional whitening is always the best—and quickest—option.
“Because in-house whitening is done under professional supervision, it can have higher bleach percentages and, as a result, produce faster results,” Apa explains. “Technicians are armed with an unique treatment for immediate alleviation if patients develop sensitivity.” Rather than depending on DIY treatments as a foundation, Apa always advocates doing professional whitening procedures in the office and then maintaining that brightness using at-home alternatives.