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What Is the Best Teeth Whitening Method?
Gels, strips, baking soda-based toothpastes—which teeth whitening method is best for you? Find out which teeth whitening solutions will help you achieve a brilliant smile.
Who doesn’t want whiter teeth? We’re hardwired to find pearly-white teeth attractive because they’re an indication of good health. The opposite is true for yellow teeth, which may point to nutritional deficits and a higher risk of serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease.
To put it simply, the color of your teeth matters more than you might think. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to whiten your teeth and achieve a brighter, more attractive-looking smile.
Should you try less expensive at-home teeth brightening methods or stick to a professional for teeth whitening services? Before you decide upon a whitening solution, here are three things you should know about whitening your teeth:
- Although over-the-counter teeth whitening products are effective, they contain harsh chemicals that can damage tooth enamel.
- DIY teeth whitening treatments can help you achieve a brighter smile on a budget.
- Professional teeth whitening services are the safest and easiest way to whiten your teeth.
OTC Teeth Whitening Products
Whether you’re trying to boost your career or hoping to impress your girlfriend with a brighter smile, over-the-counter (OTC) teeth whitening gels, strips and toothpastes can help you in either scenario. These types of products are formulated to diminish dark spots and whiten teeth over time with consistent use.
Don’t expect these products to work magic overnight. If you’re trying to improve your appearance for a big event or future dates, start using your OTC teeth whitening products a few weeks in advance. Because many gels are meant to be used twice daily, consider making it a part of your daily skin care routine so that you don’t forget.
The major disadvantage to using OTC teeth whitening products are their use of harsh chemicals. According to new research presented during the annual meeting of the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, hydrogen peroxide—the active ingredient in most OTC teeth whitening products—can cause significant damage to tooth enamel (see claim: “…results suggest that hydrogen peroxide, even at the concentrations used in whitening strips, can damage protein by promoting hydrolysis.”)
At-Home Teeth Whitening Solutions
While OTC teeth whitening products are typically cheaper than getting your teeth professionally whitened, the cost of such products can still add up. If you’re searching for an affordable, teeth whitening option, there are a couple of at-home methods that can potentially make your teeth jump a few shades brighter.
DIY Baking Soda Toothpaste: Baking soda is well-known for its lightening and stain removing properties. According to a 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, a baking soda paste was shown to be a safe and effective way to remove stains (see claim: “…baking soda-based dentifrices are effective and safe for tooth stain removal and consequently whitening.”)
If you want to give this DIY teeth whitening method a try, make yourself a baking soda-based toothpaste using one teaspoon of baking soda and two teaspoons of water. Brush your teeth with this paste every night before bed.
Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide: While baking soda is effective by itself, combining it with hydrogen peroxide can ramp up the whitening effects. In a 1998 study published in the Journal of Clinical Dentistry, researchers found that a baking soda and 1% hydrogen peroxide paste whitened teeth after eight-plus hours of treatment (see claim: “…baking soda/peroxide dentifrice significantly decreased the yellow color (b*) of the teeth after 8 or more hours of topical treatment.”)
Again, the problem with using hydrogen peroxide is that it can be damaging to tooth enamel. However, using a 1% hydrogen peroxide solution will still be safer for your teeth than the high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide found in many OTC teeth whitening products.
Professional Teeth Whitening
In-office teeth whitening is by far the safest and most effective way to achieve a brighter smile. This is mostly due to the fact that professionals can safely deliver high concentrations of peroxide without destroying your enamel.
They accomplish this by applying a protective agent prior to treatment. In the procedure, your teeth will be polished first for the peroxide to be most effective.
The dentist will then place a protective barrier on your gums to keep your enamel safe from the harsh chemicals. They may use laser technology to activate the peroxide before allowing the solution to sit on your teeth for 30-60 minutes.
The biggest advantage to this procedure is that results are usually instantaneous. Plus, you get the added benefit of keeping gums healthy and safe from the damaging effects of teeth whitening chemicals.
The major downside to professional treatment is, of course, the steep cost. A professional teeth whitening treatment can cost you anywhere from $240-$1,000 per session, depending on your whitening goals and how discolored your teeth are to begin with. It may also increase your tooth sensitivity.
There is no arguing the importance of a bright smile in this day and age. Besides increasing your attractiveness and improving your confidence, white teeth indicate good health.
Before you try brightening your smile at home, be sure to talk with your dentist about the best teeth whitening methods for your teeth. He or she can examine your gums and teeth with a professional eye before making recommendations for your smile.