What is the Best Way to Whiten Teeth?

best way to whiten teeth

A bright, dazzling smile improves your appearance, and it also shows you have excellent dental health. Studies show that well-cared for teeth and gums contribute to good overall health.

Do you want to learn how to whiten teeth fast? You have many methods to choose from, and by combining your chosen whitening technique with excellent dental hygiene, you can have a winning smile.

What are the Causes of Yellow Teeth

Many people want to know how to get white teeth. Brushing, flossing and visiting the dentist for check-ups and cleanings works for most people, but others have a tough time maintaining a bright smile even after doing these things.

Check out the following reasons for yellow teeth if you want to know how to have white teeth all the time. Correct any mistakes that may cause you to have a less-than-perfect smile, and you will look better and feel healthier.

Stains From Food and Drinks

Coffee, candy, black tea, dark-colored berries and red wine can stain your teeth. Consume these foods in moderation (especially candy), and brush your teeth shortly after eating or drinking them. Use a straw to drink tea or brightly-colored beverages to avoid getting the liquid on your teeth.


You may have inherited a disposition for yellow or off-white teeth from your parents. Genetics play a part in your tooth color, shape and gum health. Professional and at-home tooth whitening can treat teeth that are discolored due to genetics, or for any other reason.


Neglecting stains and decay for years results in yellow or discolored teeth. When enamel wears down, it reveals the dentin underneath which is naturally yellow. Some seniors may experience yellow teeth, even if they practice good dental hygiene. Discolored teeth are just a part of getting older for many people.  

Medications and teeth grinding also affect tooth color. When you grind your teeth, it changes the color at edges of the front teeth by wearing down enamel.

A dentist can prescribe enamel-building toothpaste, which will protect your teeth against dentin exposure and a yellow appearance.

Tobacco Products

Smoking and chewing tobacco make teeth yellow and kill gum tissue. When you give up smoking, you’ll have brighter teeth and reduce your chance of lung cancer, heart disease and stroke, among other fatal illnesses.

Home Teeth Whitening Methods

teeth whitening, before and after

Several types of inexpensive, at-home whitening products are among the best teeth whitening methods. These whiteners include toothpaste, mouthwash, devices, strips and gels. Choose the product that’s easiest for you to use. Yu may need to experiment with a few before finding the right one.

All non-prescription lightening, bleaching or whitening products for teeth contain either carbamide peroxide (CP) or hydrogen peroxide (HP) as their active ingredient.  

A 10% hydrogen peroxide solution is three times as powerful as a 10% carbamide peroxide solution. Studies show both solutions can effectively lighten teeth.

Consider the following when comparing solutions:

  • 10% carbamide peroxide equals 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • 20% carbamide peroxide equals 6% hydrogen peroxide
  • 30% carbamide peroxide equals 9% hydrogen peroxide

The solution you choose and the amount of time you expose your teeth to it will determine the best way to whiten teeth at home.  It takes between one and 14 days for most people to see a noticeable improvement.

Here’s how to whiten teeth at home with over-the-counter whitening products.

Whitening Toothpastes and Mouthwashes

A whitening mouthwash that contains alcohol will dry out your mouth, making the rinse less efficient. Alcohol also makes it easier for bad breath causing bacteria to form, and may harm sensitive teeth.  

Choose mouthwash with all (or mostly) natural ingredients. A natural whitening mouthwash may cost a bit more (or be harder to find at the drugstore), but you’ll get better results.

Whitening rinses include hydrogen peroxide and other ingredients that lighten teeth. You swish the solution in your mouth for a minute in the morning and evening before brushing your teeth.

Ongoing use of oral rinses with hydrogen peroxide and lead to an imbalance of bacteria in your mouth and cause more problems than it solves. Try to use mouthwashes with no more than three percent hydrogen peroxide.

Mouthwash may not be the best tooth whitener for you unless you have a lot of patience. You may need to use this type of rinse for 12 weeks before getting results. You’ll spend two minutes a day using a mouthwash vs. 30 minutes a day using strips or other more complicated methods.  

Rinses with hydrogen peroxide also freshen breath and help control plaque and gum disease, like other mouthwashes.  

Whitening toothpaste, unlike other tooth whitening products, lacks hydrogen peroxide. Toothpaste removes surface stains using special abrasives and chemicals that dissolve stains. Certain kinds of toothpaste contain covarine, which makes teeth appear less yellow by adhering to the surface.

Use toothpaste for whitening teeth twice a day for two to six weeks to make your smile brighter. Toothpaste with covarine will show an immediate improvement. Always choose brands that have the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance.

Whitening Strips

Brush your teeth before using whitening strips. Bacteria and food debris will get trapped between your teeth if you forget to brush them, and interfere with the whitening results.  Brushing also eliminates plaque, which can stop the strips from working.

Brush your teeth a half-hour before applying the best whitening strips you can afford. Saliva will get rid of excess fluoride, and you can put on the whitening strips for maximum brightness after the 30-minute window.   

Look at the whitening strips and figure out which go on the top teeth and which go on the bottom. (You’ll see which side fits the surface of your teeth, and you’ll also see step-by-step application instructions on the package or insert.)

Place the gelled side of each strip on your teeth. The gel on one side of the strips will whiten your teeth while the plain side faces outward. When you place the strips on your teeth, use a toothbrush to smooth out uneven areas or bumps. Make sure the pieces cover all teeth you want to whiten.

Dry the surface of your teeth before applying. The whitening gel works more effectively on moisture-free teeth.

Leave the whitening strips on for the amount of time indicated on package directions. Refrain from touching the strips as it will affect the bleaching process. Prevent salivation by lying on your back and keeping your mouth slightly open as you wait.

Peel and discard strips when treatment time ends. Waiting too long to remove the strips will irritate your gums and teeth. Leaving the gel on longer than indicated won’t get your teeth whiter and may harm them.

Rinse your mouth with water or brush your teeth. Refrain from swallowing any gel, as it may be toxic.

Repeat this process per the directions. Note that you may have problems keeping the strips on your teeth or getting them to cover all of your smile.

Whitening Gels

One of the best teeth whitening products for at-home use, whitening gels contain hydrogen peroxide to brighten your smile. You apply the gel directly to your teeth with a small brush. The instructions vary according to the brand of gel you buy.

Cover the surface of all teeth that need to be lightened. Painting on a gel tends to be easier than using trays, which seem cumbersome to many users. The results from self-administered gel may not be as good as those from trays or whitening devices.

You’ll have whiter teeth in a few days, and your smile will stay sparkling for three or four months.   

At-Home Trays

Bleach trays provide some of the best over the counter teeth whitening when used consistently and appropriately. A plastic tray holds bleaching gel on the teeth for an extended amount of time. Although this method proves to be effective, many people find it uncomfortable.

Brush and floss before using your trays. Check the trays for fit by placing them over your teeth without the gel. After checking for comfort, clean and dry the bleaching trays. Moisture reduces the gel’s effectiveness.

Apply gel to the trays by adding a small drop half way up the inner front of the tray. (Put gel in front of each tooth in the tray.) Leave the gel as is; refrain from spreading it in the tray. Recap the syringe. Each whitening treatment uses 0.5ml of gel. You should only bleach the front 6 to 8 teeth. People don’t usually see the back teeth, so you will be wasting money and gel if you bleach that particular area.   

Insert the tray in the mouth over your teeth, and place it against your teeth. Wipe off gel that overflows by holding the tray up with one hand and wipe the excess off with finger or tissue. Keep the tray in for 30 minutes to an hour, or as directed.

Take out the tray when treatment time ends, and brush away excess gel. Apply sensitizing gel according to directions if your teeth become too sensitive post-whitening. Brush and floss your teeth as normal.

Clean trays after each use. Use a cotton swab and cold water. Keep trays in tray holder and store in a cool, dry place. Remaining whitening gel may be refrigerated, but not frozen.

You may want to spend money on professional whitening or use a special toothpaste or mouthwash if you find using at-home trays too time-consuming.

Whitening Devices

Whitening devices require more time and energy on the part of the user than other home remedies, but they can be the best way to whiten teeth at home.

One type of personal teeth whitening device comes with a control piece to warm up hydrogen peroxide gel. You position the gel on your top and bottom front teeth. Then, you put a mouthpiece in your mouth over your teeth for a few minutes, until the device turns off and stops blinking. Whitening devices are less time-consuming than trays, and produce excellent results, according to user reviews.

Thin, plastic tubes called whitening pens contain peroxide whitening gel. You can fit them in your purse or pocket and use anywhere. After brushing your teeth remove the top cap and twist the bottom o the pen until you see the gel stick. Apply a thin layer of the gel to each tooth’s surface and let dry. Avoid rinsing your teeth.

Professional Options

Going to your dentist for professional whitening services provides a quick and easy solution for yellow teeth. Make an appointment for teeth lightening if you lack the patience to use trays or follow through with gels, whitening toothpastes or mouthwashes.

In-Office Whitening

Make an appointment to get in-office whitening by your dentist for the fastest way to whiten teeth. Obviously, this is the most expensive method, but it will give you quick results and make it easier to maintain your smile at home. Dentists use a solution with a higher concentration of

You may feel tenderness in your teeth and gums after the procedure that can last for days or weeks.   

Take Home Products

After you get your teeth whitened, your dentist may recommend custom-made whitening trays, which fit your mouth and teeth. After taking impressions of your teeth, our dentist will send them to a lab, and a few days or weeks later, you’ll have a snug-fitting whitening tray. Professional trays from your dentist can be worn longer than at-home kits. You can wear them overnight if your dentist gives you the go-ahead.

Best Ways to Prevent Teeth Discoloration

You probably already practice some of the best methods to keep teeth healthy and white – at least some of the time. Keeping to a regular schedule to maintain dental hygiene, no matter how busy or tired you are, will keep your teeth whiter longer. Instead of relying solely on after-the-fact whitening, strive to keep your teeth clean and bright and avoid spending time and money on whitening solutions.

Brush Thoroughly

Floss daily, since food stuck between teeth, can get into your gums and cause you to lose teeth. Use a water pik to flush out bits of food you can’t remove by brushing or flossing.

Get Your Teeth Cleaned Regularly

Yellow teeth result from tartar build-up from what we drink and eat. Have your teeth professionally cleaned twice a year (or more often if your dentist recommends it).

Depending on your dental health, your dentist may perform one of several teeth cleaning procedures.

Your dentist may recommend a prophylaxis, or preventative cleaning if you have a healthy mouth. A procedure called gross debridement to reduce plaque and calculus may be performed if you have gingivitis or periodontal disease, along with a scale and polish to remove calculus under the gums.

Dentists perform root planning, also known as deep cleaning, after a gross debridement. An antibiotic gel may be used in conjunction with root planning to fight gum disease.

Cut Back on Foods and Drinks That Stain Teeth


Sweet and sticky foods and sugar-laden sodas contribute to discolored teeth and tooth decay. Drink water and herbal tea instead of soda, and reduce or eliminate sugary foods. Brush and floss immediately after indulging in cookies, cakes or other sweets, if possible. Spend extra time cleaning your teeth at night if you can’t brush them right away after eating “bad” treats.  

Hard Candy

Hard candy destroys enamel because of all the sugar they contain. Biting on a lollipop or other hard candy can also result in a chipped or broken tooth.   

Citrus Fruits and Drinks

Lemons, oranges and other Vitamin-C rich fruits enhance your immune system, but consuming too many of these acidic foods erode tooth enamel. Eat citrus fruits in moderation and drink water or herbal tea to keep your teeth whiter.  


Chewing on ice cubes or chips can damage your teeth, just like hard candy. Leave the ice in your drink once you’ve finished, or wait til it melts to consume it. Chewing on ice cubes damages enamel and may cause chipped or broken teeth.

Coffee and Black Tea

In moderation, plain coffee and tea can be healthy, energy-enhancing drinks. You’ll be more likely to experience stained teeth when you add sugar and artificial creamer to your coffee. Drink black tea or coffee without add-ons to reduce the chance of developing yellow teeth.  


Excessive alcohol consumption causes dry mouth and limits saliva flow, causing tooth discoloration and decay. Drinking too many alcoholic beverages over time may cause mouth cancer.

Potato Chips and Other Crunchy Snacks

Chips, pretzels, trail mix and other crunchy snacks can get stuck between teeth and cause plaque to form. Take extra time to floss between teeth after eating crunchy snacks.

Processed Foods

Processed foods contain enamel thinning acids that turn teeth yellow. Eat as many fresh, whole foods as you can for healthier, whiter teeth.

Eat the following healthy foods to keep your teeth whiter and stronger:

  • Yogurt and raw milk
  • Mushrooms
  • Celery
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Almonds or walnuts
  • Leafy greens and other magnesium-rich foods

Quit Smoking

Talk to your doctor about cessation programs or medications if you smoke. Smoking keeps your teeth yellow, and may even turn them a brownish color. Cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco also cause lung and mouth cancer.

Words of Caution

Once you’ve decided on the best method for how to get your teeth white, learn about the precautions you should take, and find out what you need to do for aftercare.

Learning how to make teeth whiter involves a bit of research on your part. Study the at-home products on the market, read reviews, and talk to your dentist about the correct method for your teeth.   

Children and pregnant or nursing women should not use tooth bleaching products.

Tooth Sensitivity

You may experience sensitive teeth after a whitening session. Discomfort usually occurs after a professional cleaning for most people, but it may happen after using in-home methods.

You may experience soft tissue irritation if whitening gel drips onto your gums. Ingesting the gel may cause stomach upset or vomiting.

Alleviate pain after teeth whitening sessions by:

  • Brushing teeth with a sensitivity toothpaste containing potassium nitrate to relieve pain.
  • Chewing gum helps you produce more saliva, and the chewing movements may take the focus off the pain.
  • Stop using whitening trays or other products for a few weeks to give your teeth and mouth a rest.  

Greyish Teeth

Bleaching grey-colored teeth may make them a lighter grey. Even the best method for how to whiten your teeth works well on yellow teeth, not grey ones. You may want to talk to your dentist about in-office bleaching for better results. Using a home whitening treatment on grey teeth can lead to uneven colored teeth.    

Dental Composites

You probably have some dental work, such as bonding, veneers, caps or filling. Dental composites may become discolored over time, but they don’t respond well to whitening methods. Ask your dentist about the best way to whiten teeth if you have discolored dental composites. Whitening solutions aren’t designed to make dental crowns, veneers or bonding material white. A whitening solution will either leave dental work unaffected or only make a slight change to the color.

Whitening agents may affect the smoothness of dental composites and make them more prone to future discoloration.

Uneven Coloration

Whiteners will make natural teeth brighter if they have a yellow color. Grey or brown teeth will get somewhat lighter but may leave you with uneven coloration. Unless all your teeth are natural and light to moderate yellow, it can be hard to bleach teeth and get consistent results.

Check the Expiration Date

Store-bought products for whitening teeth have an expiration date, just like medication. When you buy a whitening kit or other product, be sure to use it before it expires. Read reviews of at-home tooth whiteners before you make a purchase and choose the right one for your needs. The most expensive product at the drugstore (or online) may not provide the best way to whiten teeth.