Can You Whiten Your Teeth in One Day? We Asked Dentists

white teeth

 Stocksy

A clean mouth is not only indicative of good health and hygiene, stainless teeth convey confidence and panache. A sparkling smile is best achieved by a fastidious oral health routine, but to look extra radiant in those last minute Zoom calls or at an impromptu event, whiter teeth can be the key to a more polished you.

Ahead, our experts, Marc Lowenberg, DDS a celebrity cosmetic dentist in New York City, and Brian Harris, DDS a cosmetic dentist who specializes in virtual visits and who founded the natural oral care line Klēn, offer tips on how to visibly whiten your teeth in 24 hours.

Can You Whiten Your Teeth in One Day?

Harris explains that different types of whitening procedures treat different kinds of stains. "There's a difference between chemical teeth whitening and mechanical teeth whitening," he says. "Chemical teeth whitening uses chemicals to remove intrinsic stains and mechanical teeth whitening uses abrasives added to toothpaste to remove extrinsic stains. Intrinsic discoloration is caused by genetics, trauma or medication side effects. This refers to the actual internal color of the teeth, and these stains can only be brightened with chemical teeth whitening."

The most common stains are a result of extrinsic discoloration, which Harris says most of us experience and is caused by things that stain the teeth, like coffee, tea, red wine, and smoking. "These kinds of stains are best treated with mechanical teeth whitening," he explains.

After drinking coffee, rinse your mouth with water to prevent stains from setting in. Brush your teeth within 30 minutes.

TL; DR: It is possible to see results in one day with chemical teeth whitening options, although mechanical whitening takes, according to Harris, "patience and time."

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Lowenberg says that the most effective whitening agent is hydrogen peroxide. In-office whitening procedures like Zoom Advanced Power whitening can see immediate results because dentists use a 35% solution of hydrogen peroxide in conjunction with a "light source directly on the teeth to break up all the molecules that cause staining and discoloration," he explains. Over-the-counter methods, on the other hand, use "7-10% hydrogen peroxide or a derivative called carbamide peroxide. You might see instant results with this product, but they will be slight."

He explains that the longer the active peroxide stays on the teeth, the better the results. However, this doesn't mean you should keep products designed for at-home use on longer than directed. "Dentists take all the necessary precautions protecting the teeth and gums during in-office whitening," he says. "OTC products require that you follow the directions exactly or you run the risk of causing damage to your gums."

A mixture of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide has been proven to work in some cases for instant results in a pinch. Combine two tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide with one tablespoon of baking soda. Mix it until it becomes a paste and use it to brush your teeth.  Leave it in place for three to five minutes and then brush your teeth and rinse out your mouth.

How Many Days Does It Take to Noticeably Whiten Teeth

The immediacy of results depends on what method you use to whiten your teeth. "Whitening toothpastes is going to take at least 30 days," says Harris. When choosing a good whitening toothpaste, Harris recommends choosing one with a "low RDA value (this measures how abrasive a product is). The key is to find one that is abrasive enough to remove stains but not so abrasive that it damages the enamel." 

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Lowenberg says you can see noticeable results from strips or custom trays in five to 14 days. When it comes to achieving immediate results in one day, both cosmetic dentists recommend in-office procedures. Lowenberg says expect to spend 90 minutes in the chair for an in-office whitening procedure that provides an instant reduction of stains and discoloration.

What Are the Fastest and Safest Teeth Whitening Methods?

If you have a few days to work on your smile, Harris advises you to start with some whitening strips. "Within a couple days, you will start to see results." Try trimming the strips to fit your mouth and be sure to keep the whitening agent away from gums, as it might cause irritation.

If you start noticing translucent edges to the teeth or experience sensitivity on a regular basis, it's a sign you might be overdoing at-home whitening and should talk to your dentist STAT.

The one drawback to using strips, Harris says, is that they often don't cover the full "arch of teeth." But, it's a rather quick, safe option for whitening front teeth with ease.

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Custom whitening trays from your dentist are another great option if you have a week or so. For $250, the trays from your dental office allow you to whiten all surfaces of the teeth and come with a more powerful whitening gel which usually gets more predictable results.

To whiten teeth in one day, an in-office whitening might be the best bet, just beware of the sensitivity side effects. Harris adds that in-office, same-day systems like Zoom Advanced Power is highly effective for immediate results when dealing with stains caused by internal discoloration. The process costs about $500 and "often comes with extreme tooth sensitivity after the process," he warns. "It is great for those that just don’t have the time or patience for at-home whitening strips or custom trays."

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