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Teeth Whitening: All You Need to Know!

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

A beautiful, white smile can create a great first impression - giving you a boost of confidence. However, over time, teeth can become stained and discoloured due to ageing, diet, and lifestyle habits. Fortunately, many safe and effective teeth whitening products or procedures can help you restore your brighter, whiter smile.

What is Teeth Whitening?

Teeth whitening is a process that lightens the colour of teeth by removing stains and discolouration. The most common cause of tooth discolouration is the accumulation of pigments from food, beverages, or tobacco and nicotine use. These pigments can penetrate the tooth enamel, the hard outer layer of the tooth, giving the teeth a yellow or brown appearance.

Types of Teeth Whitening

There are two main types of teeth whitening:

  • Professional teeth whitening is performed by a dentist in a dental clinic. This type of whitening is generally more effective than at-home methods and can achieve dramatic results in a shorter period of time.

  • At-home teeth whitening involves using over-the-counter whitening products, such as whitening toothpastes, whitening strips, or whitening trays. These products typically take longer to see results than professional whitening, but they are more affordable and safe to use for a longer period of time.

How Does Teeth Whitening Work?

When it comes to achieving a brighter, whiter smile, the world of teeth whitening products and treatments offers a variety of ingredients, each with its own unique mechanism for tackling tooth discolouration and stain removal. From your bathroom sink to the dentist's chair, understanding the range of options and key components can help you make informed choices about the best ways to enhance the natural beauty of your teeth. There are few ingredients in whitening products that are used by dentists that can effectively whiten your teeth. 

  Mild abrasives: The Journal of the American Dental Association reports that some toothpaste contains only mild abrasives. These ingredients don't bleach your teeth: they remove surface stains by gently scrubbing them off your enamel. These toothpastes are safe to use every day.

➔   Hydrogen peroxide: It is a bleaching agent used in professional treatments for teeth whitening. It is important to note that while hydrogen peroxide is an effective bleaching agent for teeth, in India it is not available as an over-the-counter product since it is highly regulated. But Colgate offers oxygen active technology with Visible White O2 - that works in a similar way. It releases oxygen molecules that go within the enamel and lighten deeper, more intrinsic stains, giving you a whiter smile starting in 3 days.

➔   Carbamide peroxide: Carbamide peroxide is also similar to hydrogen peroxide - it breaks down into hydrogen peroxide. Carbamide peroxide may also be used in professional treatments for teeth whitening.

Benefits of Teeth Whitening

Whitening toothpastes offer more than just cosmetic benefits for a whiter smile; they also contribute to oral health and enhanced dental cleanliness in several ways:

  • Stain Prevention: Using whitening toothpaste regularly helps in avoiding the buildup of stains from various foods and drinks, which in turn lowers the chances of plaque and tartar development.

  • Cavity Protection: These toothpastes often contain fluoride, among other ingredients, which are crucial for reinforcing tooth enamel and guarding against tooth decay.

  • Cost-effectiveness and Ease of Use: In comparison to professional dental whitening methods, whitening toothpastes are an affordable and readily available option for keeping your smile bright on a daily basis.

Choosing the Right Teeth Whitening Method

The best teeth whitening method for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences. If you are looking for dramatic results, professional teeth whitening is a good option. If you prefer a more affordable and convenient method, at-home teeth whitening products like whitening toothpaste may be a suitable choice.

  • Whitening Products: These could be useful for gently brightening dull, stained, or yellow teeth. They are considered to be easy to use and handy for maintaining a bright smile. Whitening products include whitening toothpastes, toothbrushes, mouthwashes, and strips.

  • Home Whitening Kits: Teeth whitening kits might be ideal for individuals seeking to whiten teeth at their own pace. They are believed to work well for mild to moderate discolouration and offer privacy without needing to visit a dental professional. These typically consist of a whitening gel and a device that accelerates the whitening effect of the gel.

  • Whitening at the Dentist’s Office: Professional whitening is best for more noticeable, longer-lasting results. These treatments can remove tougher stains and provide more efficacious whitening since the ingredients tend to be more potent. 

How Long Does Teeth Whitening Last?

One of the common questions individuals have about whitening teeth is about how long the results will last. The duration of teeth whitening effects can vary depending on several factors, including;

  1. Product or treatment used: The results can vary depending on your chosen whitening method. Since professional treatments tend to involve the use of more potent whitening agents, these tend to last longer.

  2. Frequency of use or treatments: Dentist treatments may happen over a few sittings and further help with efficacy and duration of whitening. On the other hand, whitening products should be used regularly to see the difference in whitening over time.

  3. Lifestyle and oral hygiene: Lifestyle habits, such as food and drink consumed and tobacco use, could affect how long your teeth stay white.

Who is a Good Candidate for Teeth Whitening?

At home teeth whitening is generally safe for most adults with healthy teeth and gums. However, some teeth whitening products with bleaching agents may not be suitable for individuals with:

  • Sensitive teeth: Bleaching agents can cause temporary tooth sensitivity.

  • Receding gums: Exposed tooth roots may be more sensitive to bleaching agents.

  • Crowded or misaligned teeth: Whitening may not be effective in areas where the bleaching agent cannot reach.

  • Teeth with extensive restorations: Bleaching may not be effective on porcelain crowns or veneers.

It would be best to consult a professional dental professional to understand which whitening products are best for your teeth.

Maintaining Your White Smile

Once you have achieved a whiter smile, it is important to take steps to maintain it. Here are some tips for keeping your teeth bright:

  • Practise good oral hygiene:  Brush your teeth twice a day with a whitening toothpaste and floss daily to remove plaque and bacteria.

  • Limit staining foods and beverages: Avoid or reduce consumption of foods and beverages that can stain teeth, such as coffee, tea, red wine, and sugary drinks.

  • Get regular dental checkups: Visit your dentist for regular cleanings and checkups to ensure your oral health is in good condition.


Teeth whitening procedures can be a safe and effective way to achieve a brighter, whiter smile. With proper care and maintenance, you can enjoy your radiant smile for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do you whiten your teeth quickly?

You could try using over-the-counter whitening strips or bleaching gels. Additionally, brushing daily with whitening toothpaste can help remove stains from the tooth surface. 

2. What is the best way to whiten your teeth?

The best way to get white teeth can depend on the existing state of your teeth and other factors. A dentist can help to provide customised whitening solutions for your specific needs and ensure safe and effective results. Additionally, maintaining good oral hygiene practices such as regular brushing, flossing, and using a whitening toothpaste could help.

3. How do people get whiter teeth?

People could achieve whiter teeth through professional treatments like in-office whitening treatments or by using over-the-counter products such as whitening toothpaste, strips, gels, or mouthwashes. Some might opt for natural remedies like oil pulling, brushing with baking soda, or using activated charcoal - but there is little proof for the efficacy of these kinds of natural remedies. Maintaining good oral care, including brushing, flossing, and frequent dental cleanings, can also help maintain whiter teeth.