Looking to brighten your smile? (Um, aren’t we all?) We tapped cosmetic dentist Dr. Brian Kantor of Lowenberg, Lituchy & Kantor in New York City for the best at-home and in-office treatments you can try according to your budget. Here’s the seven best ways to whiten teeth.
7 of the Best Ways to Whiten Teeth, According to a Dentist
1. Use a Toothpaste with Hydrogen Peroxide
"Hydrogen Peroxide (which is found in many whitening toothpastes) breaks up surface stains on teeth to make them appear brighter. I like Colgate Optic White Platinum High Impact White Toothpaste. Another option is to brush your teeth using a homemade paste of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. Slowly pour some hydrogen peroxide into the baking soda powder and mix until the consistency is similar to toothpaste. You can do this once a day—morning or night," says Kantor.
2. Add in WhiteStrips
To ramp up the brightening effects, Kantor recommends using Crest WhiteStrips combined with the daily use of a whitening toothpaste as an affordable way to maintain the results at home. "The strips are particularly effective because the bleach remains in contact with your teeth long enough to break down stains on the molecular level," explains Kantor.
3. Try Oil Pulling
Prefer a more natural approach? "Oil pulling has been a big trend recently, but it has been shown to reduce inflammation by combining the fat-soluble toxins found in the mouth (a byproduct of bacterial dental plaque) with coconut oil," says Kantor. Results of oil pulling include fresher breath, whiter teeth and reduction of bleeding gums while flossing.
4. Be Mindful of Certain Foods
"Food plays a huge part in teeth losing their brightness. A good rule of thumb that I tell my patients is any food or drink that would stain a white blouse will stain your teeth, like berries, red wine and sauces. Sticky candy or sticky carbohydrates like pasta and bread will also stick to the teeth and allow surface stains to form," warns Kantor. A quick solution? Swish your mouth with water immediately after consuming any of these things.
5. Try an In-Office Treatment
For a dramatic and faster fix, visit your dentist, who will use a higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide treatment (up to 35 percent) and a high intensity light to activate the bleach to speed up its penetration through the enamel. "We use ZOOM! at our offices, which relies on a power light instead of a laser (for less sensitivity since they don’t heat up the teeth as much). This will typically cost between $800-$1,200, which will come with custom take-home whitening trays to prolong the results at home," says Kantor.
6. Consider Veneers
If none of the options above work for your smile—and white teeth are very important to you—there is another, albeit highly expensive option: veneers. "This is the only way to achieve a guaranteed whiter smile. With other whitening options, you never know exactly how the patient’s teeth will respond but with veneers, you have the ability to select the shade that’s right for them from the start," says Kantor. During your appointment, your dentist will apply a thin veneer of custom made, pre-formed porcelain directly onto the surface of each individual tooth that needs addressing. Porcelain veneers last anywhere from 10 to 20 years and typically take two visits to complete. At $1,000 to $3,000 per tooth, veneers are truly the Rolls Royce of smile makeovers (aka a major investment).