The annual spending on teeth whitening products is $1,400,000,000, and the teeth whitening product market is expected to reach 7.4 billion by 2024. Let that sink in. Having ice-white teeth can seem like an aspirational dream. Who doesn't want perfect pearly whites? Those numbers prove that the teeth-whitening craze can be overwhelming and costly, considering the vast market of products that promise to whiten your teeth.
It's hard to trust what actually works when a new teeth-whitening gadget is popping up left and right. To clear things up, Timothy Chase, DMD, a practicing dental partner at SmilesNY, and Kourosh Maddahi, DDS, a celebrity dentist who also happens to be a holistic expert, share the holy-grail teeth-whitening techniques that they stand by.
From teeth-whitening techniques that always work to age-old all-natural practices that have a good track record, start with the below techniques. If you want to get even more specific with your smile, there are teeth-whitening toothpastes, kits, DIY hacks, and more you can try as well.
#1. Go to a Professional for In-Office Whitening
"For in-office whitening techniques, 35% hydrogen peroxide is the standard, and it should only be done about once a year," says Maddahi. Chase also stands by the power of peroxide when used by a professional. "The only tried-and-true way to get real results is always peroxide," he agrees.
Both dentists point out the importance of being cautious of your teeth's sensitivity when it comes to whitening techniques. "I have great results when I use Zoom and Glo whitening techniques on my patients," says Maddahi. "However, the process causes tooth sensitivity that will vary between patients. Normally, the younger the patient, the bigger the nerve; therefore the more the sensitivity."
If you don't have the time to commit to doing a daily whitening technique yourself, Chase suggests seeing your dentist first. "If you are in a rush, whitening at your dentist office takes about an hour."
#2. Try At-Home Whitening Toothpaste, Mouthwash, and Strips
"Home whitening can be safely accomplished with Oral Essentials Whitening Toothpaste ($12), Mouthwash ($12), and Teeth Whitening Strips ($31), which use natural ingredients like coconut oil, sage oil, and lemon peel oil to whiten teeth," suggests Maddahi. "This is the only non-peroxide–based whitening system that I have seen whiten teeth without the sensitivity of peroxide-based products."
Maddahi goes on to emphasize that most at-home whitening systems will use peroxide instead, which can potentially be harmful for your teeth if it is not used by a professional. Using Oral Essentials at home is a nontoxic and peroxide-free approach using plant-based ingredients. "These are safe enough for everyday use and are even gentle enough to use on veneers," explains Maddahi.
"The best teeth-whitening products and devices are ones that give you great results with very little sensitivity," Chase emphasizes. "Daywhite, Nightwhite, and Zoom are my top favorites because they provide the best results."
#3. Try Essential Oils and Sea Salt
"The proper formulation of essential oils and dead sea salt can garner a dramatic result without damaging the tooth enamel or causing sensitivity," explains Maddahi.
Studies show that coconut oil is an effective teeth-whitening trick as well. It's an age-old practice for an all-natural teeth whitener. Simply swish around a spoonful of coconut oil in your mouth for 30 seconds—its antimicrobial properties will give your gums a deep clean. Rubbing it on your teeth with a clean applicator like a washcloth works just as well.
#4. Gargle and Brush With Apple Cider Vinegar
ACV has potassium, magnesium, probiotics, enzymes, and acetic acid, all of which are proven to banish germs and zap teeth stains that come from coffee or a buildup of plaque. Essentially, it's the high PH level of ACV that removes stains and gives you a brighter smile.
#5. Eat Strawberries, High-Fiber Fruits, Cheese, and Crunchy Vegetables
"Strawberry and high-fiber fruits, such as pear and apple, will keep the complexion of your teeth white," says Maddahi. Berries contain a bunch of antioxidants that aid in keeping your teeth healthy and strong.
Studies published in the Journal of the American Academy of General Dentistry say that eating cheese can raise the pH level of your teeth and slow down the process of tooth decay. The calcium and protein strengthen tooth enamel as well.
#6. Try Activated Charcoal
Although there have been some controversial claims about activated charcoal and if it actually works, most research supports that this is a safe, all-natural approach to teeth whitening. If you brush your teeth two to three times a week with powdered activated charcoal and water, it will actively absorb plaque and microscopic decay that causes staining.
#7. Avoid Tooth-Staining Foods and Beverages
Chase has a good analogy: "When looking to avoid foods that could alter the appearance of teeth, consider skipping any foods or drinks that would stain a white shirt," he says. Those foods include red wine, dark sodas, red sauces, coffee, and, of course, any tobacco products.
Maddahi agrees with avoiding the above foods and liquids with caution, along with the overconsumption of the following foods: "Green tea, red wine, blueberries, blackberries, and red and green juices have a graying effect on the teeth, while black tea and coffee cause the teeth to turn yellow," explains Maddahi. "Tea and coffee should be consumed with a vented lid cup instead of an open cup. Blueberries and blackberries are best used in a smoothie and consumed from a thick straw. Green and red juices should be consumed from a thick straw as well. Thick straws are ideal, as the use of thin straws will cause lines around the upper lip over time."
There you have it—one step closer to the smile of your dreams.