According to Manhattan dentist Alexandra Hara, whitening treatments simply use peroxides of various strengths to lighten stains. While dentists use stronger concentrations in office, you can get good results and whiter teeth at home, too. Best of all, you don’t have to give up the stuff that’s making your chompers look like buttered popcorn flavored Jelly Bellies. Here are a few dentist-approved tricks that will help you 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 safe and won’t damage your tooth enamel when used correctly, you should be sure to follow the directions on the package. 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 a series of 30-minute sessions. The “advanced seal” technology made these especially easy to wear for the full two hours—and after removing them, our teeth were noticeably whiter. The downside: our teeth were also pretty sore the next day, especially while brushing. Next time we’ll stock up on Sensodyne ahead of time.
You’ve been hearing it your whole life: You should be brushing twice a day. While you’re at it, use a whitening toothpaste. One caveat is that you shouldn’t brush right after eating—it’s best to wait a while especially if you’ve been eating acidic foods.
We tried: Supersmile Professional Whitening Toothpaste
In the past, we haven’t seen any real results from whitening toothpastes. But Supersmile’s version impressed us—it took a few weeks, but we did see progress. Perhaps from the “Calprox” in the formula? This proprietary ingredient promises dramatic and irritation-free whitening.
Hydrogen Peroxide and Baking Soda
This is the ultimate DIY home chemistry teeth-whitening solution. To tackle teeth stains that persist, you can mix hydrogen peroxide with baking soda and apply the mixture to your teeth using a washcloth. Dr. Hara told us to avoid our gums as this solution can cause irritation and inflammation.
We tried: Hydrogen Peroxide and baking soda
After a glass of red wine—Malbec, actually—we mixed one tablespoon of peroxide with one tablespoon of baking soda and dipped in a cotton ball. The verdict: A little messy, and not a ton of payoff.