Young woman using teeth whitening strips.

What Are the Best Ways to Whiten Your Teeth?

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

So you want to brighten your smile? Take the first step by choosing the best whitening treatment for you. Many factors can influence your tooth-whitening selection. Do you want to go to the dental office or whiten from the comfort of your home? How much do you want to spend? How long do you want it to take? With so many options out there, you may feel indecisive. The good news: Finding a tooth-whitening solution doesn't have to be hard. Explore your options, and ask your dentist to help you find the perfect one for you!

How Can You Whiten Your Teeth?

Now that you have decided to whiten your teeth, the next step is to talk to your dentist. They can help you identify the cause of tooth discoloration and the type of stain. Extrinsic tooth stains exist on the tooth's surface and usually can be removed with over-the-counter (OTC) whitening products. On the other hand, intrinsic tooth stains exist below the tooth's surface and might require in-office treatments. Your dentist can examine your teeth and recommend the best option for you.

1. Porcelain Veneers

Porcelain veneers are small custom-made coverings that a dentist bonds to your teeth to improve your smile's appearance. Although this teeth whitening option is expensive, your dentist may suggest veneers if bleaching is not an option for you. Porcelain veneers are generally painless, but some patients do experience discomfort and sensitivity to temperature after treatment. Because veneers are customized, the process may take several visits to the dentist, but once your dentist completes the cosmetic procedure, they can last 20 years.

BEST FOR someone with stains that cannot be removed with bleaching agents.

2. Professional Teeth Whitening

Professional teeth whitening takes place at your dentist's office. Your dentist will apply a gel-like solution to your teeth while shining an activating light on the gel. You should experience minimal pain with this teeth whitening option, so there's no need to be scared of the dentist's chair. The treatment takes approximately an hour, and the results last longer than other whitening treatments.

BEST FOR someone who wants to see results quickly.

3. Teeth Whitening Trays

You can purchase OTC whitening trays or get custom-fitted trays from your dentist. OTC trays come with a peroxide-whitening gel that gently removes surface stains. But if you're looking for whitening trays that fit perfectly, the dentist can make trays using impressions of your teeth. Plus, you can use these trays from the comfort of your home. Your dentist will instruct you to place a small amount of bleaching solution into the trays and wear for up to four hours a day for a week or two.

BEST FOR someone who wants professional whitening results from home.

4. Teeth Whitening Strips

Whitening strips are an excellent choice for at-home brightening. These dental strips have a whitening gel inside that adheres to your teeth, making it easy to wear around the house while doing other tasks. This whitening option works well for people who have slight tooth discoloration and healthy tooth enamel. Teeth whitening strips require some patience as it may take days or even weeks before you start noticing a brighter smile. Whitening strips can be a cost-effective option compared with other treatments.

BEST FOR someone who wants whiter teeth on a budget.

You need to consider many factors before choosing a whitening treatment that works for you. If you are looking for gradual, gentle stain removal, then at-home whitening treatments might be the best option. However, if immediate results seem more appealing, then in-office procedures could be your answer. You can always talk to your dentist to find the best teeth whitening option for you.


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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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