Test Drive: Tooth Whitening

Dentist-approved tricks for getting whiter teeth at home.

We all want whiter teeth but we’re not ready to sign up for professional treatments. Instead, we enlisted Manhattan dentist Alexandra Hara to get pearlier teeth at home. According to Dr. Hara, whitening treatments simply use peroxides of various strengths to lighten stains. While dentists use stronger concentrations in office, you can still achieve a brighter smile at home with a few tips. Best of all, they don’t involve giving up your favorite foods or drinks.

Jump Start Whitening

Over-the-Counter Whitening Strips

When using over-the-counter products, Dr. Hara says, “Patients should be aware of potential sensitivity to the gums and teeth.” Although the peroxide is completely safe and won’t damage your enamel when used correctly, you should follow the directions on the package to avoid damage. Dr. Hara also suggests switching to sensitive toothpaste while whitening.

We tried: Crest 3D White Whitestrips

These claim to whiten teeth several shades with a single two-hour session, instead of several 30-minute sessions like less expensive options. The “advanced seal” technology made wearing these for the full two hours easy and after removing them our teeth really were noticeably whiter. But they were also pretty sore the next day. Next time (three months from now), we’ll stock up on Sensodyne ahead of time.

Whitening Toothpaste

You should be brushing twice a day for two minutes each time, using a whitening toothpaste. If you’re home, you might be tempted to brush your teeth as soon as you finish eating but it’s best to wait a while if you’ve been eating any acidic foods. Try chewing gum if you need to freshen up right away.

We tried: Supersmile Professional Whitening Toothpaste

In the past, we haven’t seen any real results from whitening toothpastes. But Supersmile’s version comes with an accelerator and contains Calprox, a proprietary ingredient that dramatically whitens without irritation. We’ve seen progress in just a few weeks.

DIY Whitening: Hydrogen Peroxide and Baking Soda

To tackle stubborn stains, mix hydrogen peroxide with baking soda and apply to your teeth with a washcloth or cotton pad. Dr. Hara says to avoid gums because the solution can cause irritation and inflammation.

We tried: Hydrogen Peroxide and baking soda

After a glass of red wine we mixed one tablespoon of peroxide with one tablespoon of baking soda and dipped in a cotton ball. We were careful to avoid our gums as Dr. Hara suggested but this was still pretty messy for not much payoff. We always have hydrogen peroxide and baking soda around so we would try it again if we didn’t have anything else on hand.

For more whitening tips watch our video, How To: Make Your Teeth Look Whiter.

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