The desire for perfectly presentable teeth is one we’re all too familiar with. It’s a fairly rational one at that, particularly in the time of Zoom calls when many of us are staring at our faces for a good portion of the day. Besides that, your teeth are the first thing people see when you open your mouth to speak, sans mask,… or smile. And in world where first impression counts much more than it should, stained teeth stand out. So it makes sense to seek out the best teeth-whitening products to bring out the pearly of your whites.
If you’re worried about stained teeth, there’s only one truly effective method: Prevention. This is especially important for coffee and tea drinkers. “Brush your teeth or rinse with water right after and spit it out to get the residual coffee or tea out,” says Dr. Edmond Hewlett, a professor at the UCLA School of Dentistry, “ideally before it can sit on your teeth.”
If you’re not quite as disciplined, there are teeth-whitening toothpastes. The problem is the more effective these are, the more likely they’re damaging to your teeth. “From a whitening standpoint, the toothpaste works on the surface of the teeth. It can lighten the color of the teeth by removing stains from foods and coffee. There’s nothing wrong with that. Some of them contain a small amount of peroxide chemicals but the exposure time with normal toothbrushing to that is relatively low,” says Hewlett.
Remember, toothpastes are different from whitening kits, which also work when used as directed.
And let’s keep some things front of mind: It’s very normal to have some yellow tint to your tooth. However, anything more than a slight tint points to underlying causes like “a loss of enamel, stain or a layer of plaque,” all of which “could do damage to the teeth,” says dentist Dr. Chris Kammer.
It’s fine to want to get that yellow tint a little whiter, even so, but it’s important to note that not all products whiten teeth in a healthy way. The best teeth-whitening products for yellow teeth are non-abrasive and protect the teeth from decay while attacking layers of stain.
You want to look out for oxygenating whitening products, notes Kammer. “They work within the tubules of the teeth to whiten and do not harm the tooth structure with normal use,” he says. Oxygenating whitening products usually contain carbamide and hydrogen peroxide and are “considered safe for home use at concentrations between 3 and 20%.”
“What makes it a whitening toothpaste is that they have some mild but safe abrasives other toothpastes don’t have, and a small amount of peroxide,” says Hewlett.
As for charcoal? It’s best to avoid it. “There’s so much hype about charcoal,” says Hewlett. “There is scant, if any, evidence on the efficacy of charcoal in tooth whitening. There’s so much information that’s not accurate. It’s somewhat abrasive.”
The whitening products below are widely popular; we have noted the ones that are ADA-accepted.
Obviously, what you use on your teeth is a matter of personal choice, but any dentist will advise you to buy ADA-accepted products, because they've been tested to prove their safety and efficacy. This whitening kit uses hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth; it includes 14 teeth whitening strip treatments.
Spry comes directly recommended by Dr. Kramer. Spry is natural and has non-GMO ingredients that other toothpastes often lack. He notes that the xylitol content helps to disarm the cavity causing bacteria and stimulate saliva and you get better cleaning of the teeth. The cranberry extract, he says, also helps with controlling mouth bacteria and reduces inflammation of the gum tissue. This is not ADA-accepted.
This set comes with vials, which contain a hydrogen peroxide whitening solution you apply onto your teeth. Then, you turn on the mouthpiece and place into your mouth for eight minutes and let it do its thing.This set is not ADA-accepted.
Created for sensitive teeth, this whitening system (while not ADA-accepted) actually does work. You place a pearl-sized drop of both the toothpaste and accelerator on a toothbrush and brush twice a day. The main ingredient is Calprox, which is a blend of ingredients including baking soda. It works by dissolving stains. Plus, we like that the main ingredient here is sodium monofluorophosphate, which is one of three types of fluoride.
One of the only at-home kits on the market that uses dual-light technology: The blue light whitens teeth while the red light protects gums. Use it for seven days, for 10 minutes a day. This is also not ADA-accepted.
This set uses hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth. And if you hate strips or trays, this may be the way to go. You can use the pen to apply the whitening solution; the films mold to your teeth to lock in the whitening agents. You should see results in five days and again, this is not ADA-accepted.
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