Teeth Whitening Methods, Ranked

Two young girls smiling taking a selfie
Everyone wants white teeth, and there are plenty of ways to get them. But which way is the best?

Everyone wants white teeth.  Such a high demand for teeth whitening has produced a wide variety of methods by which you can have a brighter, whiter smile.  If you are new to teeth whitening, it can be difficult to know where to start.  This blog will include the various methods of teeth whitening and some rankings so you can find the best fit for you.

Over-the-Counter Teeth Whitening Methods

There are several types of teeth whitening methods available at your local drug or discount store.  In general, over-the-counter teeth whitening methods will not be quite as strong as professional products, so you can expect a slower and less noticeable result.

Whitening Toothpastes

Whitening toothpaste tube
So-called whitening toothpaste contain no peroxide. They simply rely on abrasive to polish your teeth.

Almost every brand of toothpaste has a product aimed at whitening.  The important thing to know about whitening toothpastes is that they do not bleach the teeth.  They simply use abrasive particles to polish away surface stains from the enamel.  These products are very effective at brightening a smile that has stains from habits like smoking and coffee drinking.

Whitening toothpastes do not change the overall color of your teeth.  They remove external stains to get you back to your natural tooth shade.  They are especially effective when used in conjunction with an electric toothbrush.

Make sure to choose one with the American Dental Associations Seal of Approval to ensure that it is safe for your enamel.

People with very sensitive teeth should not use whitening toothpastes.

WhiteStrips

Crest WhiteStrips were the first over-the-counter whitening product, and they continue to be popular.  Crest WhiteStrips and their competitor products do produce a teeth whitening result.  When used consistently, according to the manufacturer’s instructions, teeth will become several shades lighter.

The problem with Crest WhiteStrips is that they are slippery and difficult to keep on your teeth for the prescribed amount of time.  Some people find them frustrating to use.

Whitening Gels & Mouthguard-Type Trays

There are some brands of whitening gel available over-the-counter that use a generic plastic or moldable tray as a carrier.  The actual whitening gel contains an active hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide ingredient, which is an effective teeth whitener.  The important factor is getting this gel to stay in contact with the teeth.  Most generic trays do not fit closely against the teeth; therefore, you have to use more gel and get less of a result.

Teeth Whitening Methods Trending Online

Instagram post of teeth whitening
An example of DIY teeth whitening methods advertised on social media.

There are almost too many to count!  In general, we can break them down into three categories.

  • Do-it-Yourself Home Teeth Whitening – Instagram and Pinterest users are no strangers to DIY teeth whitening. People recommend everything from coconut oil pulling to homemade turmeric toothpaste to activated charcoal.  The bottom line is that DIY teeth whitening is either totally ineffective or potentially harmful.  Anything homemade toothpaste recipe that involves an acid (like lemon juice) or an abrasive ingredient (activated charcoal) cannot be deemed safe for use on enamel.  If they were safe, they would only be effective at polishing away surface stains, not truly whitening the teeth.
  • Non-Peroxide Teeth Whitening Products – Like PowerSwabs and AP24 Toothpaste, many products available online claim to be all natural and safe because they do not contain hydrogen peroxide. Current research shows that only hydrogen peroxide and its close relative carbamide peroxide can chemically break down stains just under the enamel surface.  Nothing else will truly change the color of your teeth.  So products boasting that they have no peroxide are ineffective at actually whitening the teeth.
  • True Peroxide Whiteners with Added Gimmicks – Many teeth whitening products for sale online use a small lighted mouthpiece, which “activates the whitening gel”. These products do product a whitening effect . . . for a very short time.  Lights produce heat, which causes a slight drying out of the enamel.  When enamel is dry, it appears brighter and whiter in color.  As soon as your saliva rehydrates the tooth, this effect disappears.  If the whitening gel contains a peroxide chemical, it can whiten your teeth.  Just skip the gimmicky lights.

Profession Teeth Whitening Methods

Professional teeth whiteners come in two types: 1) in-office and 2) take-home.  They both produce wonderful whitening results.  The difference lies in how fast you achieve those results. If you’re looking for a dental office that does teeth whitening in Pensacola, give us a call! We can get your scheduled in our downtown Pensacola office and have your teeth looking great, and quick!

In-Office Professional Teeth Whitening

Hands down, the fastest and easiest way to get a beautiful white smile is through in-office professional teeth whitening.  A few name brands are ZOOM!, BOOST, and Sapphire.  They typically operate under the same mechanism of action: a very high concentration of peroxide whitening gel is applied to teeth and monitored closely by dental professionals.

Because the gel is so strong, the gums and other soft tissues inside the mouth need protection, so this type of product cannot be used at home.  We see great whitening results in one hour!

Take-Home Professional Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening gel going into tray
Take home trays provide long-lasting, predictable results. A great option for most people.

Considered the “gold standard” of teeth whitening among dentists, take-home whitening gel in custom-fitted trays has several advantages over other types of teeth whitening.  Once your dentist makes your custom trays, you can use them for years.  Custom fit trays are without a doubt the best type of carrier to hold whitening gel onto the teeth.

The professional strength teeth whitening gel, in combination with custom fit trays, gives the most predictable whitening results of any available method at this time.  Professional gels come in varying strengths to accommodate sensitive teeth, gum recession, and the length of time you desire to wear them.

Because the trays last for many years, you can maintain your white smile by simply purchasing refills of the whitening gel as you need it.

The Rankings

Methods Ranked by Cost

In order from least-to-most expensive:

  • DIY Home Teeth Whitening
  • Whitening Toothpastes
  • WhiteStrips or Whitening Gels & Mouthguard-Type Trays
  • Non-Peroxide Teeth Whitening Products
  • True Peroxide Whiteners with Added Gimmicks
  • Take-Home Professional Teeth Whitening
  • In-Office Professional Teeth Whitening

Methods Ranked by Fastest Results

In order from fastest to slowest results:

  • In-Office Professional Teeth Whitening
  • Take-Home Professional Teeth Whitening
  • True Peroxide Whiteners with Added Gimmicks
  • WhiteStrips or Whitening Gels & Mouthguard-Type Trays
  • Whitening Toothpastes
  • Non-Peroxide Teeth Whitening Products
  • DIY Home Teeth Whitening

Methods Ranked by Effective Results

Before and after comparison image of teeth whitening
If you want the best results, nothing beats professional teeth whitening.

In order from most-to-least effective:

  • In-Office Professional Teeth Whitening = Take-Home Professional Teeth Whitening
  • True Peroxide Whiteners with Added Gimmicks
  • WhiteStrips or Whitening Gels & Mouthguard-Type Trays
  • Whitening Toothpastes
  • Non-Peroxide Teeth Whitening Products = DIY Home Teeth Whitening

Methods Ranked by Ease of Use

In order from easiest-to-most difficult to use:

  • In-Office Professional Teeth Whitening
  • Whitening Toothpastes
  • Non-Peroxide Teeth Whitening Products
  • Take-Home Professional Teeth Whitening
  • True Peroxide Whiteners with Added Gimmicks
  • WhiteStrips or Whitening Gels & Mouthguard-Type Trays
  • DIY Home Teeth Whitening

More Questions about Teeth Whitening?

Call today to schedule a teeth whitening consultation with our cosmetic dental experts!  We can answer any question you have about teeth whitening and help you choose the option that is best for you.