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Teeth Whitening 101: The Ultimate Guide

October 27 2021

Table of Contents

1. Teeth whitening and oral hygiene

2. Yellow and stained teeth

3. Best teeth whitening methods

4. Professional teeth whitening

5. Teeth whitening costs

6. Extrinsic and intrinsic staining

7. Teeth whitening shade guide

8. Risks

9. Conclusion

 

Teeth whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures today. Brightening your smile is an easy, quick, and cost-effective way to enhance your overall appearance and boost your confidence by creating a smile you’re proud of. There are countless teeth whitening treatments on the market today, from do-it-yourself therapies that can be done at home to cutting-edge whitening treatments that only a trained dentist can apply. 

Have you been considering enhancing your smile with teeth whitening? You likely have many questions about whitening your teeth, which teeth whitening treatment is correct for you, teeth whitening ingredients, and teeth whitening cost. This is the last teeth whitening guide you’ll ever need. Keep reading to learn about everything there is to know about whitening your teeth.

Teeth Whitening and Oral Hygiene

Your smile is your greeting to the world, so you must take good care of your grin to make the best first impression. While teeth whitening improves your smile by erasing stains and brightening the color of your teeth, it’s essential to care for your smile with proper oral hygiene. 

Teeth whitening is not just from unique bleaching treatments but from regular dental care as well. Your daily oral hygiene routine is vital to keep your smile bright and beautiful. You can care for your teeth, remove plaque, and remove surface stains by brushing teeth for two minutes twice daily, flossing regularly, and using a fluoride rinse for a deep full-mouth clean. In addition, don’t forget to keep up with regular dental visits and cleanings so that your dentist can remove plaque build-up from hard-to-reach areas and assess any restorative work that may need to be done. For optimal oral health, schedule cleanings with your dentist twice a year. 

Yellow and Stained Teeth 

To keep your smile bright, it can be helpful to identify what causes yellow and stained teeth and avoid risk factors that may be causing your teeth to stain. Factors that contribute to enamel shade and teeth staining are genetics, diet, and daily habits. Genetics play a role in the overall shade of your teeth; inherited genes may cause your teeth to be slightly more yellow or gray, as well as being more prone to staining due to abnormal or porous tooth enamel. While you can’t manipulate these genetic traits, you control the other factors that contribute to teeth staining. 

Your diet is just as crucial to your oral health as it is to your overall physical wellbeing. Eating habits impact your smile tremendously. Steering clear of sticky foods that cling to teeth and cause plaque build-up is critical to your smile staying bright and white. Paying attention to the beverages you drink is also vital - juices, soda, coffee, tea, and other dark or acidic drinks are known to cause enamel stains. To reduce teeth staining, you may want to limit your intake of coffee, dark sodas, and red wine, as these drinks are the main culprits behind stained teeth.
Aside from your food and drink choices, daily habits can influence teeth staining. For example, smoking and using tobacco products of any kind have been shown to cause teeth staining. Likewise, not drinking enough water and not keeping up with good dental hygiene practices contribute to staining and discoloration of the teeth. 

To keep your smile bright and white, consider cutting down on food and drinks that cause staining, such as soda, wine, coffee, and acidic foods and beverages, as well as discontinuing smoking or using tobacco products. If you want to reduce teeth staining and discoloration, you may want to rinse or chew gum after eating or drinking as well.

Best Teeth Whitening Methods

There are numerous teeth whitening methods available to enhance your smile. From simple, at-home remedies to mainstream products and in-office treatments, there is a teeth whitening solution out there for just about everyone! Here we will break down some of the most popular teeth whitening methods so you can choose the teeth whitening treatment that’s the best for you.

Teeth Whitening Strips

Teeth-whitening strips are a popular treatment, and almost every oral care brand has a line of teeth whitening strips. Whitening strips are an affordable way to whiten teeth and are readily available at most drugstores and pharmacies. One of the most well-known is Crest White Strips, but most brands of whitening strips work the same way. 

Whitestrips come in individually wrapped packets with one strip for the upper and lower teeth. Each strip is made of thin, flexible plastic with a whitening gel coating on one side. To use white strips, simply peel off from plastic film backing and affix the strip, gel-side down, onto teeth. Then, press onto the surface of teeth until the strips cling to teeth, and leave on for the time specified on the box, as whitening time may vary.

Typically, white strips take several applications to whiten teeth. The most popular brand of white strips, Crest Whitestrips, recommends using strips twice daily for 30 minutes for two weeks consecutively to yield noticeable results. In addition to taking a long time to see results, white strips have some other downsides. White strips cannot be used while eating or drinking and must be left on for a long time to whiten. In addition, white strips may slide around on teeth, causing uneven whitening. Most important to note, white strips may cause pain and sensitivity to the teeth and gums.

Teeth Bleaching


Many people assume that teeth whitening and bleaching are the same, but there are differences between teeth whitening and bleaching. For example, teeth whitening products may remove stains and restore teeth to their original color but do not contain extra whitening agents like a bleaching product and are only effective at eliminating superficial surface stains. 

Teeth whitening products often utilize either abrasives that buff away stains or a detergent that chemically removes stains. Teeth bleaching products use a whitening agent like hydrogen peroxide to brighten and whiten the tooth enamel. In this way, teeth bleaching is more effective than teeth whitening. However, many products use ‘Teeth Whitening’ as a blanket term to indicate what the product does. To ensure your product is a teeth bleaching product with optimal results, check to make sure it uses hydrogen peroxide to whiten.

Baking Soda for Teeth Whitening


Baking Soda is a pantry staple in many homes and isn’t just good for baking! Baking soda has been used to whiten teeth naturally for decades, along with being a handy ingredient and cleaning agent around the house. Baking soda is the common name for Sodium bicarbonate, a chemical compound that comes in the form of a fine white powder. Baking soda has anticaries and abrasive properties, meaning it helps prevent tooth decay and works as a mechanical abrasive to buff away plaque and remove stains. In this way, baking soda is effective at cleaning and whitening teeth. In addition, baking soda neutralizes the production of acid in the mouth, which may brighten teeth. 

To use baking soda to whiten teeth, simply mix a teaspoon with a small amount of water to create a gritty paste, then brush teeth with the mixture. This mixture will scrub away surface stains, clean and neutralize acid as you brush. Follow up with your regular brushing routine with toothpaste, as this will remove any residual grittiness left from the baking soda and remove the alkaline taste left from baking soda. Baking soda is mild and safe enough to use regularly - you can use it each time you brush if desired. 

Baking soda is readily available, and you probably already have some at home! Baking soda usually costs just a few dollars at any grocery store. In this way, baking soda is one of the most accessible and affordable teeth whitening solutions. 

While baking soda is a safe and affordable way to remove stains from teeth, it is not the most effective way to whiten teeth. In addition, since baking soda only removes stains gently from teeth, it is not a good solution for those who want to dramatically enhance the shade of their enamel.

Hydrogen Peroxide for Teeth Whitening


Hydrogen peroxide is an active whitening agent in many professional and over-the-counter whitening products that can be helpful to integrate into your dental hygiene routine. Hydrogen peroxide works as a bleaching agent to whiten teeth, not just remove stains. Hydrogen peroxide is the active ingredient in many teeth whitening products, and can be used alone to whiten teeth. Some suggest swishing with hydrogen peroxide after brushing teeth to whiten, being sure to spit and rinse after. Others create a paste of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda to apply to teeth with a toothbrush. Baking soda is abrasive, buffing away stains and hydrogen peroxide whitens and brightens teeth. This paste should be followed up with a thorough rinse.

Among the benefits of hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth are its affordability and accessibility. You can find hydrogen peroxide in the first aid section of most grocery stores and pharmacies for just a few dollars. While hydrogen peroxide can be beneficial, using it alone can be messy, and hydrogen peroxide can bleach clothes and towels. Additionally, hydrogen peroxide may damage teeth. Using a dentist-formulated product ensures that the hydrogen peroxide solution is gentle on your enamel.


Teeth Whitening Pens


Want whiter teeth but don’t have time to sit at home with a treatment on? Enter the teeth whitening pen! Teeth whitening pens have gained massive popularity in recent years due to their easy-to-use, mess-free, travel-friendly design. Whitening gel pens are pens or tubes that contain a whitening gel formula that can be applied directly to teeth using a brush or silicone pen tip. These whitening pens are discrete and can easily fit into a backpack, handbag, or car console to whiten any time you’re on the go.

To use a whitening gel pen, simply push up, squeeze, or click out the whitening gel onto the tip of the pen and gently glide over the front of the teeth that are visible when you smile. Continue to smile for a few seconds to allow the gel to ‘set’ on teeth, then go about your day. Some whitening gel pens for teeth require a certain period before you eat or drink, while others require that you rinse with water after use. Be sure to carefully read instructions to ensure you are using your whitening pen correctly for optimal results. 

The main benefit to using a teeth whitening gel pen is its portability. Teeth whitening pens are compact, mess-free, and easy to use. Additionally, you don’t need to brush before using a whitening gel pen, and it takes just seconds to apply, making it one of the fastest methods of brightening your smile. However, teeth whitening pens typically don’t whiten teeth dramatically and are better suited for touch-ups and teeth whitening maintenance. Consider implementing a teeth whitening pen as part of your overall whitening routine and use it after consuming particularly staining products. Stash a whitening pen in your handbag or work desk to use after your morning coffee or happy hour.

Teeth Whitening Gels


Teeth whitening gels come in various formulations, contain active whitening ingredients to remove stains and whiten. Some whitening gels can be used alone, while others are recommended for use with a lighted mouthpiece to keep the gel in place and to amplify results. When looking for the most effective teeth whitening gel, be sure to look for hydrogen peroxide as an active ingredient.

Using teeth whitening gels is reasonably straightforward. First, be sure to brush teeth thoroughly to remove any debris and superficial stains from teeth, which will allow the whitening gel to penetrate the enamel and work more effectively. After brushing, read instructions on your specific whitening gel carefully and apply to teeth as directed. Avoid putting gel on gums, as this may cause pain or sensitivity. Leave whitening gel on for the time allotted on the instructions - many whitening gels should be applied anywhere from 8-15 minutes - and reapply as directed.

Teeth whitening gels are some of the most effective forms of whitening. 

Teeth Whitening Devices


Teeth Whitening Devices are very common, and many are simple to use. For best results, they are paired with a teeth whitening gel. Most teeth whitening devices do not whiten teeth but amplify the whitening effects of the teeth whitening gel. A teeth whitening device typically uses light on teeth to accelerate whitening. 

Whitening devices are very effective at whitening. Simply use your teeth whitening gel as directed, and follow instructions to secure your teeth whitening device onto your teeth. Then, turn it on to emit light, and allow the device to work for you! You should brush before using a teeth whitening device to clear away surface debris and plaque. Leave your device on for the time specified, then remove and rinse if necessary.
Most teeth whitening devices deliver fantastic results and can be used from the comfort of your own home. The GLO Brilliant Teeth Whitening Device takes only 32 minutes to whiten teeth by multiple shades without causing sensitivity or pain. In addition to being effective and easy to use, teeth whitening devices are a fraction of the cost of professional whitening, making them an affordable option to get impressive results.

Teeth Whitening Kits


Teeth Whitening Kits are a great way to kickstart your whitening routine. These whitening kits typically contain an LED teeth whitening device, hydrogen peroxide whitening gel, a device charger, and a carrying kit. These all-in-one kits can be helpful when you are unsure how to use a whitening device or which to buy, as it takes the confusion out of pairing a gel and device and includes everything you need to get started whitening your teeth from home.

There are many effective teeth whitening kits available today. To ensure you’re selecting a high-quality whitening kit, look for a device that uses gentle warming heat and light to accelerate whitening and a hydrogen peroxide gel that is sensitivity-free. Looking at customer reviews and dentist endorsements can be helpful as well. 

At-home teeth whitening kits are relatively easy to use and yield quick whitening results. Many kits include everything you need to dramatically whiten your smile in just a few uses and are safe to use regularly. There are even kits that connect with your phone to walk you through whitening, hands-free! When shopping for a teeth whitening kit, consider how you will use your teeth whitening device. For example, a compact kit with a travel case can come in handy for traveling to give yourself a quick whitening touch-up on vacation or before a big event. Compared to professional whitening, whitening kits are the most effective at-home solution and will cost considerably less than professional whitening in a dentist's office.

Professional Teeth Whitening


The highest grade of whitening is only available at a dentist’s office. While many at-home solutions will boast professional results, only a trained dentist can use the highest-grade light devices to whiten along with the most concentrated whitening formulas. Therefore, professional teeth whitening in a dental office is the most effective way to whiten your teeth and can dramatically change your smile in just one visit! 

To find a professional teeth whitening location, you may want to consider online dental reviews, ask for a referral from friends, ask your current dentist, or find a professional whitening provider using our online tool

When you choose to get your teeth professionally whitened, you will typically have a series of short visits with your provider.  Your first visit will be a brief consultation that could take between 30 minutes and 1 hour. During this visit, your dentist will examine your teeth, assess your current enamel shade, and discuss your smile goals. You will also have an opportunity to ask your dentist any questions you have about professional teeth whitening. Based on this consultation, your dentist will put together a customized whitening treatment plan according to your unique needs.

At your next visit, you will have your whitening treatment applied. You may need just one or several treatments to reach your desired enamel shade. Your whitening experience will be dependent on which whitening treatment your dentist uses on patients. Some whitening treatments use large overhead lights or bulky equipment and take upwards of an hour per treatment. GLO Science Professional Whitening Treatment uses a compact mouthpiece to ensure patient comfort and takes 32 minutes per treatment.
Professional teeth whitening is powerful and should be followed up by good dental hygiene to optimize and retain results. To decrease the risk of staining, do not eat or drink anything that may stain teeth, such as wine or coffee, for 48 hours following your whitening procedure. High-quality teeth whitening treatments applied by a professional should not result in sensitivity or pain, so be sure to notify your dentist if you experience pain following your procedure.

In-office teeth whitening is the most expensive option to whiten teeth and can range between $400-$750 depending on the treatment and how many sessions you require. However, it is essential to consider that professional whitening typically needs to be done less frequently than at-home whitening, so the cost of whitening throughout your life may be less than using several at-home treatments consistently.

Teeth Whitening Costs


Teeth whitening costs can vary widely from mere cents per application to thousands of dollars. Therefore, one should consider the results and longevity of the treatment before deciding what treatment is right for you. While some solutions are cheap, they can cause enamel damage leading to extra costs down the road or being applied numerous times a day to see results, making it more expensive. Others have a higher upfront cost but can be used less frequently and yield better results. 

The most inexpensive teeth whitening methods are hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, which are readily available at most grocery stores and pharmacies and cost a few dollars, which breaks down to mere cents per treatment. 

Mid-range teeth whitening methods include whitening strips, teeth whitening gel, at-home teeth whitening devices, and teeth whitening kits. These methods typically range from $30 for whitening strips or gel to $200 for a high-quality teeth whitening device kit. 

The most expensive method of teeth whitening is professional teeth whitening performed in a dental office. Professional teeth whitening is most costly because dentists are equipped with a higher grade of equipment, more concentrated whitening gel formulas, and have extensive dental training to ensure your treatment is safe and effective. You can expect professional teeth whitening to range between $400-$750, but these costs can vary based on your location, treatment type, and how many sessions you need. Your dentist should be able to give you a cost breakdown after your first teeth whitening consultation.

Extrinsic and Intrinsic Staining


Not all tooth stains are created equal. There are two types of tooth stains: extrinsic and intrinsic tooth stains. When you notice staining or yellow teeth, you are likely to see extrinsic tooth stains, which affect the outer layer of tooth enamel. Extrinsic staining is often caused by:
-Drinking dark or acidic beverages like cola, coffee, wine, or tea

-Eating acidic, colorful foods such as berries or tomato-based pasta sauce

-Smoking or chewing tobacco

Luckily, extrinsic tooth staining is preventable. To reduce tooth staining, practice proper oral hygiene, including twice-daily tooth brushing, regular flossing, and regular dental cleanings. You can also reduce your intake of stain-causing foods and drinks and quit using tobacco products to stop staining. In addition, drinking water and chewing sugar-free gum after meals can help to remove stains and prevent new stains from developing.

Intrinsic tooth stains develop deeper within teeth, usually caused by tiny cracks in the enamel, use of certain antibiotics, bleeding within the tooth or pulp infection, tooth decay, weakened enamel, genetics, and even too much fluoride! Therefore, teeth whitening tends to be more effective at removing extrinsic stains, while more invasive treatments like veneers may be required to remedy intrinsic stains.


Teeth Whitening Shade Guide

Motivational Shade Taking Guide


A teeth whitening shade guide is a helpful tool for examining your current enamel shade and selecting your goal tooth shade, which will help guide you in the teeth whitening process. To use a teeth whitening shade guide, simply hold up your teeth and find the enamel shade that closely matches your current shade. You may want to mark the current shade to track progress. After, select the enamel shade you would like your teeth to be and mark this as well. Then, as you whiten your teeth, you can use the shade guide to track your progress.

Risks

Teeth whitening is generally very safe, but teeth whitening does come with risks like all cosmetic procedures. The most common dangers of teeth whitening include tooth sensitivity, gum sensitivity, white spotting on gum tissue, and numbness. Individuals with sensitive teeth should seek options that are enamel-safe and tested on sensitive teeth.
GLO Science Whitening Gel is vegan, gluten-free, cruelty-free, and is made in the USA using recyclable vials. GLO Whitening Gel is enamel-safe and safe to use even on bridges, crowns, and veneers. The ingredients in GLO Science Teeth Whitening Vials are natural and free of harmful chemicals.

Conclusion

Your smile has a significant impact on your life - from your health to your relationships - so it’s essential to take care of those pearly whites. Along with proper dental hygiene, teeth whitening can be a vital component in your oral health routine to boost your confidence and enhance your smile. Many different teeth whitening methods vary in cost, time, and efficacy. To find the best treatment for your needs, you should consider your overall smile goals and weigh each whitening method’s pros and cons. Try GLO Science at-home teeth whitening devices or find a provider that uses GLO Science Professional in-office treatments for the most brilliant whitening results.