Teeth Whitening Series Part 2: At-Home Teeth Whitening Options

Earlier this week we chatted about the strange ways people in history have approached whitening their teeth, and then a couple professional options through your dentist. If you’re concerned about costs or want to try at home before going to the dentist to brighten your smile, then this post will help you make a decision on the best tactic. Several commercial options are available as well as recipes with basic ingredients you may have in a kitchen cupboard right now. Let’s take a look.



Commercial Whitening Varieties

Whitening kits available at your local pharmacy or store come with varied directions. Most people start with whitening toothpaste. These fancy pastes have a gritty texture ideal for scrubbing stains from the surface of your enamel. While removing stains will brighten your teeth, they often don’t deliver the whitening power people long for.

Another buyable option comes in the form of whitening strips. These thin plastic strips are laced with a hydrogen peroxide gel. Directions will have you place the strips on your teeth and leave them there for a certain amount of time before scrubbing the gel away. Again, these lift stains from the teeth surfaces like whitening toothpaste does. They also can whiten teeth up to five shades during a long regiment of use, so these are a great option for someone wanting results in 1-2 months.

A whitening at-home tray kits have a hit-or-miss success rate. The one-size for all trays can be uncomfortable and the gels included in them are weak compared to other options. If you do at-home trays provided by your dentist, the bleaching agent gel will be stronger and more effective. Another commercial at-home whitening tray kit type offers a bendable mouthpiece and tends to work better than their one-size-fits-all counterpoints. Many find that using a tray, regardless of the type, will irritate the gums and cause discomfort in the oral cavity.

At-home leave-on, brush-off paste recipes have been shown to be effective in whitening teeth and removing enamel stains. The key is to not leave them on too long to avoid eroding the enamel with natural acids or scratching it with scrubbing agents. Others swear by strawberries and banana peels being rubbed against teeth as natural buffers full of minerals that are good for the teeth. The recipe below seems to be the one people swear by on holistic websites:

  • Use a couple teaspoons of baking soda and add enough lemon juice to form a paste. Wipe saliva off teeth with paper towel. Use a toothbrush to apply paste to the teeth. Leave it on for 1 minute and then scrub off and rinse mouth out. Repeat daily until teeth are desired shade.

In reality, if none of these products or recipes work within 1-2 weeks. Taking a picture before you start and taking another each week to compare will determine if they are accomplishing the whitening you want. If not, you may need to go to a dentist and have them professionally whiten them for you’re desired shade.


A Major Dental Myth

One of the most widely spread and misleading myths surrounding teeth whitening is the effectiveness of using straight hydrogene peroxide in your mouth. This idea stems from the fact that hydrogen peroxide is a major player in whitening gels and mouth washes. The problem lies in its concentration and use. Firstly, professional gels and solutions used that contain hydrogen peroxide are not placed on anything but the teeth. Swishing your entire mouth with the chemical can kill beneficial bacteria in the mouth that keeps it healthy. Secondly, hydrogen peroxide only removes stains and doesn’t actually whiten teeth. Dentists and dental hygenists on multiple forums, including WebMd and Realself.com, urge people not to use it and instead to seek professional help getting their teeth whiter.

Tips on Keeping Stains Minimized

Of course, prevention is important in keeping teeth as white as possible. Drinks seem to be a major thing to watch out for. Soda, wine, coffee, tea, and certain juices have pigments that permeate enamel and stain. If it can stain a white table cloth, it can ruin your smile’s gleam. Smoking and tobacco use are also major culprits, and keeping teeth white is just another reason to add to the growing list against these habits.

Lastly, getting your dental cleaning twice annually can help keep your smile merry and bright. Give our office a call to schedule your first one in 2016! We’d be happy to help you start the year out right!

Read part 1 of this article here.


Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

About Mark C. Marchbanks, D.D.S.

Dr. Mark Marchbanks has practiced dentistry in Arlington Texas since 1983. He enjoys caring for patients young and old. You can find Dr. Marchbanks on
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If it's been more than 6 months since your last teeth cleaning, give us a call today to schedule your check-up.