Bright, white teeth give you the confidence to share your smile — and not only are white teeth beautiful, they’re a signal that your mouth is in really good health. If you’re wondering how to make teeth white — fast — we have the inside scoop. Here, discover 19 expert tips from dentists for how to get a dazzlingly white smile on the double.
1. Drink Plenty of Water
Chase dark liquids such as black coffee or red wine with water. It takes 30 seconds for the pigment to penetrate, so drinking water alongside your coffee or wine will help to wash any would-be stains away.
2. Avoid Certain Foods
Yes, coffee and red wine stain teeth, but some foods cause stains that are even harder to remove. If it stains a white shirt, it will stain your teeth.
Believe it or not, dark, sticky foods (especially when hot) can deeply penetrate the teeth, making for more intense staining. A few foods that qualify: balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, tomato sauce, cranberry sauce, and chocolate syrup. And one of the worst offenders? Barbecue sauce. “It’s dark, hot, and sticky, so it’s a triple whammy,”
The plan to try to hold off staining as much as possible: Brush immediately after eating or drinking dark foods, which isn’t always possible, unfortunately. But as with coffee and wine stains, swishing your mouth with water can help keep food stains at bay until you get the chance to brush.
3. Opt for a Straw
It sounds silly, but drinking highly pigmented beverages (think coffee, red wine, and soda) through a straw helps prevent from coming into contact with your teeth and mucking up any whitening work you’ve been doing. You could also swear off those drinks altogether … but that might be even tougher to keep up!
4. Wear Blue-based Lip Color
Using a blue-based lip color won’t actually change the color of your teeth, but it will give the illusion of whiter teeth. Why? Blue-based pinks, plums, and reds are said to offset yellow tones in the teeth.
5. Add Milk to Your Tea
The addition of milk to tea reduces the tea’s ability to stain teeth.
A protein in milk known as casein binds to tannins (the compounds that cause staining in tea), thus protecting your enamel from stains. Sadly, this doesn’t apply to coffee, since tannins aren’t to blame for your latte-induced tooth discoloration.
6. Snack on Strawberries and Cheese
You can think of strawberries as nature’s teeth polishers. Strawberries produce an enzyme called malic acid, which is said to keep teeth white. Another good food to eat for keeping teeth healthy? Good old’ cheese. Your favorite white cheddar and other cheeses contain a type of lactic acid that helps zap tooth decay.
7. Stock Up On Apples and Celery
Crunchy fruits and veggies are great for clearing away plaque and polishing the teeth and gums. They also increase saliva productions which can protect your oral health, say experts.
8. Brush Teeth Twice a Day
Not to state the obvious, but practicing good dental hygiene daily goes a long way with whitening teeth (along with keeping them healthy). Dentists recommend using electric toothbrushes over manual toothbrushes because electric brushes clean deeper (and remove more surface stains). For that reason, you might want to consider upgrading your brush.
Plaque and food particles between your teeth can make your smile look dim overall, so don’t forget to floss. Get in there daily with gentle floss like Oral-B Advantage Floss Picks.
10. Brush with Baking Soda Once a Week
We often tend to think we have to fork out big dollars for whiter teeth, but that’s not always the case: Everyone has baking soda in their pantry, and dental experts say that this little ingredient really works. If you use it a few times a month, you can safely remove stains and get your chompers up to two shades lighter.
There is a warning, however: if you brush too often with baking soda, you could wear away at the enamel on your teeth. It is safe (and effective), however, to brush with a baking soda mixture once a week. At that rate, it’s not abrasive enough to wear down your enamel.
If you’re wondering how to whiten teeth with baking soda, it’s actually pretty simple! All you need is baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and your toothbrush. Dampen your toothbrush under the faucet, then squirt a bit of peroxide over the bristles. Next, dip the brush inside the baking soda box, remove, and brush for two minutes like you normally would with toothpaste. Rinse with lukewarm water and you’re good to go!
11. Try Oil Pulling
Oil pulling is the process of swishing unrefined, cold-pressed organic coconut oil (or sunflower oil or sesame oil) around in your mouth for 5 to 45 minutes before spitting it out in order to whiten your teeth and get rid of any toxins in your mouth. This teeth whitening method was first found in ancient Ayurvedic texts, and even Gwyneth Paltrow swears by it.
Why does it work? The oil absorbs plaque (which is made of bacteria) that is sitting on your teeth, which in turn makes them brighter. I’ve noticed fresher breath, whiter teeth, and less bleeding around the gums when I floss.
12. Rub Your Teeth with Vaseline
Another (if not slightly strange) trick to keeping red wine stains away? When sipping red wine, coat your front teeth with Vaseline to protect against staining.
13. Rinse with Apple Cider Vinegar Once a Week
Another trick for how to make teeth whiter in 3 minutes or less? Rinse with apple cider vinegar, which will eat away at the surface stains on your teeth. It’s powerful, so there’s no need to use a lot of the vinegar. Dilute it by adding one teaspoon of the apple cider vinegar to a cup of water. Take a sip, and swish it around your mouth for 1-2 minutes before spitting it out and rinsing with water. Since too much apple cider vinegar can harm tooth enamel, limit your apple cider vinegar rinses to once a week. It’s effective and fast.
14. Cut Back on Sugar
A diet filled with too much sugar can lead to tooth decay, gingivitis, cavities, and plaque — all of which can dim your pearly whites! You don’t have to cut sugar completely out of your diet, but if you’re trying to get whiter teeth, keep an eye on how much sugar you’re consuming. For reference, the American Heart Association recommends limiting your sugar intake to 25 grams (or 100 calories) for women and 37.5 grams (or 150 calories) for men.
15. Don’t Smoke
Smoking causes teeth to yellow and decay, and can even cause tooth loss. Furthermore, the exposure to nicotine leaves your mouth unable to effectively fight off infection, which causes plaque to build up and bacteria to run rampant. In addition to the myriad of reasons smoking harms your overall health, it will also hinder your efforts to whiten your teeth.
16. Keep a Teeth Whitening Pen in Your Purse
Dentists recommend using touch-up teeth whitening pens after you’ve consumed dark-colored foods or drinks (think marinara sauce, spinach, etc.). They’ll help ensure that these dark pigments don’t sit on the surface of your teeth long enough to stain, so it’s a good idea to toss some in your purse.
17. Zap Stains at your Dentist’s Office
The quickest, most dramatic way to whiten is to get an in-office bleaching at a dentist’s office. Using professional-strength hydrogen peroxide and special lights or lasers, your dentist can remove even deep stains in about an hour.
18. Try an At-Home Whitening Kit
At-home teeth whiteners are designed to hold a (milder) hydrogen peroxide solution against your teeth as closely as possible for an extended period of time each day. You can get custom-made trays from your dentist that fit your teeth exactly (plus stronger peroxide), but if that’s too pricey, generic trays and stick-on strips are also great options. In fact, for many people, they can yield the same results as in-office bleaching, only over a longer period of time (around six weeks). Even if you already got an in-office bleaching, it’s a good idea to maintain your results at home with a tray or strips. Avoid trays, however, that were not created with a mold of your mouth; the peroxide can leak out and irritate your gums.
Here’s a pro tip: Before starting any at-home whitening kit, have a professional teeth cleaning. That way, your enamel will come in contact with the bleach. If your teeth have plaque buildup, the lightening agents won’t be able to penetrate through the plaque. So get squeaky clean before you start!
19. Consider Veneers
The peroxide in whitening treatments doesn’t work for everyone. To figure out whether you’re a candidate, hold a piece of white paper next to your mouth. If your teeth seem yellow, the treatments will work. If your teeth look grey, however, the staining is actually coming from within the tooth and can only be fixed by covering them with bonding or veneers (people with fair skin have thinner enamel and are more likely to have this type of grey discoloration).
prevent tooth whitening
- Avoid the consumption of or exposure to products that stain your teeth, such as coffee, tea, and red wine. If you do choose to consume beverages that stain, consider using a straw so that the liquid bypasses your front teeth.
- Brush or rinse immediately after consuming stain-causing beverages or foods.
- Follow good oral hygiene practices. Brush your teeth at least twice daily, floss at least once daily to remove plaque, and rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash at least once a day to kill bacteria that cause plaque. Use a whitening toothpaste (once or twice a week only) to remove surface stains and prevent yellowing. Use a regular toothpaste the rest of the time.
- Consider touch-up treatments. Depending on the whitening method used, you may need a touch-up every 6 months or after a year or two. If you smoke or drink lots of stain-causing beverages, you may need a touch up more often.
BEST TEETH WHITENING TOOTHPASTEOptic White Express White Whitening ToothpasteCRESTCOLGATEamazon.com$10.50 SHOP NOW
If you want a whitening treatment that you can easily incorporate into your day-to-day, swap out your normal toothpaste for this effective whitening one. Colgate claims that users can get visible effects within five or more days of twice-daily use. In tests, our Beauty Lab found that this paste, which contains hydrogen peroxide, whitened some testers’ teeth a full shade brighter in three days with daily use.
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Each whitening session with these strips takes 30 minutes, so kick back and relax with your favorite book. The brand claims that you’ll need up to three weeks of daily use for full effects. After 20 days of daily use in our Beauty Lab, scientists found that these strips whitened teeth two to four shades.
BEST TEETH WHITENING LIGHT DEVICESonic Blue Smart Brush Whitening KitGO SMILEGO SMILEulta.com$89.00 SHOP NOW
This blue light technology-enhanced toothbrush accelerates the whitening system’s hydrogen peroxide gel — just combine equal parts toothpaste and peroxide, and brush for two minutes. The brand claims that daily use for up to 10 days will render full results, but the Beauty Lab found that when used twice daily, the Go Smile kit whitened the teeth of 90% of testers in just two days. Bonus: You’ll have clean teeth and fresher breath, too.
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This mess-free kit includes a hands-free LED accelerator light and whitening pens made with the same enamel-safe whitening agent used by dentists during in-office treatments (but at a lower dosage, so there’s less pain from sensitivity). You can also plug the light tray into your phone for on-the-go whitening sessions. The company recommends 10 minutes a day for at least one week to see results.
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Whitening pens won’t drastically whiten your teeth due to a lower percentage of hydrogen peroxide, but a lower dose of the active ingredient also means it won’t irritate sensitive teeth. They’re a good pick-me-up — use as needed after ingesting teeth-staining culprits, like coffee and red wine.
We love our patients and love to help them form healthy dental life that will last them a lifetime. For more information call us today to answer all of your questions so get an appointment today.