As many times as your dentist and parents told you to cool it on the (multiple) cups of joe you’ve been drinking daily for the past decade or so, you didn’t listen. Now, you’re realizing your pearly whites, are, well, not so pearly anymore. Before you start ordering every teeth-whitening kit that pops up in your Google search, refrain from doing so, because the pros gave TZR the low-down on how to whiten your teeth at home — fast. Even better: Some of the tips include products that might be sitting around your space.
A few easy tips to start: if you can’t put down the caffeine, experts recommend drinking it with a straw (iced coffee is the key here) in order to keep the dark brown liquid from hitting your teeth directly. And on top of coffee (and wine), there are additional foods that you might not think would stain your teeth. “Other popular drinks like green tea and foods that contain turmeric also do some damage,” Dr. Joseph Field, a dentist based in Los Altos, California, tells TZR. “One way to prevent this is to, at a minimum, rinse your mouth out with water after consuming items that can stain.” If you can, he says it’s best to brush your teeth right after consuming any of these products.
Adding to that, cosmetic dentist Dr. Amanda Lewis says eating fruits and veggies can help with removing stains from teeth. “Strawberries have been touted as a natural stain remover but lack data to back it up,” she tells TZR. “Raw veggies that require chewing naturally glide against the teeth helping to clear away foods that cause stains.” Read: Don’t walk, run to your nearest Trader Joe’s.
Ahead, the experts share five tips for whitening your teeth at home. Make sure to snap some photos of your new shiny white smile.
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Incorporating 1% hydrogen peroxide solution or brushing your teeth with baking soda is beneficial to mitigate stain accumulation, according to Dr. Fields. “This shouldn’t be done daily, but once a week would be helpful,” the expert adds. Another way you can use baking soda, according to Dr. Lewis, is by mixing it with your mouthwash to brush your teeth in place of toothpaste.
Dr. Fields says the goal with brushing is to remove the accumulation of stain and biofilm from the teeth. “Electric toothbrushes help as they oscillate and break down stains well,” he explains. His professional advice: Brush your teeth after every meal for two minutes.
This might sound like a no-brainer, but Dr. Lewis reiterates the importance of flossing. “Not only does this make your teeth and gums more healthy, but it also helps to remove stains from between teeth,” the cosmetic dentist explains. “Use of a tongue scraper to remove stain and bacteria from the tongue can aid removal of staining residue as well.”
Dr. Lewis says an over-the-counter whitening kit can work on some individuals. “They generally contain the same ingredients used in the dental office just at lesser concentrations,” she notes. But, if you do go this route, the expert suggests using the kit as directed and after an exam from a dental professional. “If you have fillings or crowns, they may not change color and cause an unevenness in your smile,” she adds.
But from the *many* whitening kits on the market, how do you decide which to try? “I have seen nice results from Crest white strips and Glo [Science] in individuals with fairly straight teeth,” Dr. Lewis explains. “Individuals with greater levels of stain or teeth that aren’t in good alignment tend to do better with professional whitening that can be customized to their teeth.”
For additional product options, Dr. Sharon Huang, DDS, MICOI of Les Belles NYC (a female-founded and led dentistry practice), has you covered. First off, she loves BURST Coconut Whitening Strips, which include 6% hydrogen peroxide. “These are quick 15-minute at-home treatments,” she explains. “The strips are made of peroxide and coconut oil, which will whiten teeth and also soothe teeth.”
On top of that, she suggests Lumineux Teeth Whitening Strips by Oral Essentials, especially for those with sensitive teeth. “These are a great non-peroxide option that utilizes coconut oil, aloe vera, and xylitol,” none of which are prone to causing irritation. Lastly, Dr. Huang is a fan of Spotlight Oral Care Dental Teeth Whitening Strips. “They are a short list of ingredients, which I love. The active is mostly hydrogen peroxide, which is effective for teeth whitening.”
“Coconut oil pulling is a great clean way of keeping your teeth clean and white naturally,” Dr. Huang explains. According to the professional, coconut oil contains vitamins A, D, E, and K. “Coconut oil has natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties,” she explains. In fact, it even helps fight plaque and gingivitis. And as it turns out, she says the practice of oil pulling dates back to India and Ayurvedic medicinal practices. “It’s really easy — simply swish with your favorite organic coconut oil for 20 minutes daily,” she explains “If you’re new to pulling, work your way up to 20 minutes by starting with 5-minute increments.”
There you go — the best step-by-step process for whitening your teeth at home. Now, just try your best to cut back on the coffee.
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