We all want a gleaming smile, and it’s even better if we can figure out how to whiten teeth at home.
Whiter teeth are a sign of health and good hygiene, so it’s no surprise they’ve been glorified (almost to the point of absurdity) by celebrities online and on our TVs. While most film stars have sparkling white veneers applied by a cosmetic dentist for thousands of dollars, most of us at home have to make do with our natural teeth.
Thankfully, there are a few different ways you can whiten your teeth at home, both with commercial products and with natural means. In this guide, we’ll outline all of the major ways you can get rid of yellow teeth without leaving your house!
In this article:
- How to Whiten Teeth at Home with a Teeth-Whitening Kit
- How to Naturally Whiten Teeth
- How to Keep Your Teeth Looking White
Using a dedicated teeth-whitening product with a gel is the best way to get rid of yellow teeth.
Commercial teeth-whitening kits are made with carbamide peroxide, an ingredient made from a combination of hydrogen peroxide and urea. Carbamide peroxide can penetrate through the surface layers of the teeth to bleach away all sorts of stains and to get rid of yellow teeth.
While there are other things you can use for whiter teeth, nothing compares to carbamide peroxide in effectiveness or safety. With that said, here’s how to make your teeth whiter at home with a carbamide peroxide product.
- Read the Instructions
Each teeth-whitening system comes with its own set of instructions, so make sure to read those thoroughly.
- Brush Your Teeth
Brush your teeth before using the teeth whitener. The best time to whiten your teeth is at night before bed.
- Apply the Teeth Whitener
Each teeth-whitening system requires a slightly different application process, but in general, you want to apply whatever the gel or strips are in such a way so that they cover your teeth completely but don’t touch your gums.
- Smile Widely
If your system is a gel or a pen, you’ll probably need to smile widely for about a minute to give the gel time to work on your teeth.
- Leave It on
With other systems, you might need to press your teeth into a mold, apply strips, or use a light to activate the gel for longer, in which case, leave the product on for the required amount of time as instructed.
- Rinse Your Mouth
Once enough time passes, depending on the whitening system, you may or may not need to remove the product and rinse your mouth.
- Avoid Eating for 30 Minutes
Avoid eating for at least 30 minutes after you’ve used a teeth-whitening system.
For best results, use your product every day for up to two weeks, and afterward just once in a while for maintenance.
If you don’t have access to a teeth-whitening system, the good news is that there are methods that can help you whiten your teeth at home. There isn’t as much evidence to back their effectiveness, but many of those who tried them notice some results.
According to multiple studies, there is a lot of evidence backing up the use of baking soda for stain removal and teeth whitening at home. Baking soda is just abrasive enough to help remove stains, but not so abrasive that it’s likely to damage your teeth. Additionally, because it’s alkaline, it doesn’t disrupt the integrity of your enamel the way acidic ingredients can.
For best results, you can use a toothpaste that already contains baking soda, or you can make a paste out of baking soda and a bit of water. Then, a few times a week, before brushing your teeth with proper toothpaste, you can first brush with the baking soda and water mixture.
A hydrogen peroxide rinse is probably the DIY teeth whitening method that’s closest to using a commercial whitening system. Hydrogen peroxide is a strong bleaching agent, so it can help remove surface stains from the teeth.
- To use hydrogen peroxide safely, make sure to dilute it, so your final solution has 1.5% hydrogen peroxide. That means that if you have 3% hydrogen peroxide, you’ll need to mix it 50-50 with water, while if you have 6% hydrogen peroxide, you’ll need to mix it 25-75.
- To use, swish the solution in your mouth every night for around 30 seconds, either before or after brushing your teeth.
Note that, unlike teeth-whitening gels, hydrogen peroxide is a liquid. It swishes around everywhere instead of staying close to your teeth, the way a gel would. This means it’s slightly more likely to irritate the gums, and the results it gives won’t be as dramatic.
Even so, it’s an easy and affordable method, and many users see whiter teeth after a few weeks! If you notice any pain or irritation, however, make sure to stop.
Oil pulling is an Ayurvedic oral care practice where the user swishes an oil in their mouth for 10-30 minutes, usually before brushing and flossing. Nowadays, the most popular oil for this is coconut oil for its high content of potentially soothing and antibacterial lauric acid, but many other oils can work as well.
Oil pulling may help whiten teeth by reducing the levels of certain bacteria in the mouth that can cause the teeth to yellow. It’s more of a preventative practice, and there’s no clear evidence to suggest it’ll whiten teeth directly, but some users do see good results.
To try oil-pulling, melt a bit of coconut oil on low heat, and then swish it around in your mouth for as long as you can tolerate it. Finally, spit it out, and follow it up with the rest of your oral hygiene routine.
There are some studies that show that various enzymes found in fruits, like bromelain in pineapple and citric and malic acid in strawberries, can make the teeth seem whiter. Others claim that fruit peels can work instead.
However, the risk of damaging the teeth with acidic fruit or leaving sugar behind where it can cause cavities is greater, while the reward is temporary and not backed by science at all.
However, in general, we do recommend you eat a lot of fruit (as well as veggies). While they do contain a lot of sugar, they’re also rich in vitamins and antioxidants that contribute to overall health. However, as a teeth-whitening remedy, you should probably stay away.
Activated charcoal is an abrasive, like baking soda, that might be effective at removing surface stains from the teeth. You can buy toothpaste with activated charcoal or add some to your existing toothpaste.
Activated charcoal isn’t as gentle as baking soda, however, although it is said to be absorbent and effective at pulling away impurities from the teeth. There isn’t much research on it as a teeth-whitening remedy, but some users do see results, and often faster than with other remedies.
However, activated charcoal comes with a higher risk of damaging the enamel. Don’t use it more than a few times a week, and pay close attention to signs of damage.
Getting rid of yellow teeth is about more than just using a teeth-whitening kit or practicing oil pulling. These oral hygiene tips will help prevent yellowing and staining to keep your teeth looking white for years to come.
- First things first, make sure your brushing game is on point. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, and do it the right way.
- Choose a toothpaste that will eliminate surface stains with the help of hydrated silica or activated charcoal. We also suggest you ask your dentist if you need to use toothpaste with fluoride.
- Use a soft toothbrush to prevent damaging your enamel.
- When you brush, focus on buffing each tooth individually with circular motions. Then, move on to the next one. Avoid any harsh back and forth movements. This should take you around one or two minutes.
- If you’re using toothpaste with fluoride, don’t rinse your mouth with water when you’re done. Instead, just spit out as much of the toothpaste as you can. The residue that’s left behind will help to keep your teeth stronger!
- Flossing is just as important! Floss your teeth every day, either before or after you’ve brushed them.
- Having a healthy diet is also important for keeping the teeth bright and healthy. Make sure you get enough calcium in your diet since that is the main mineral that keeps the teeth in good shape.
- Water is another important part of the fight against yellowing teeth. Drinking water and staying hydrated is important for overall health, of course. But, when you drink water throughout the day, that water also dislodges food particles and bacteria that coat the teeth. By drinking a lot of water, you can keep your mouth clean and prevent yellowing from foods or other beverages.
- Additionally, you can also try to limit any foods, beverages, and practices that stain the teeth. Coffee, red wine, black tea, and cigarettes are all well-known teeth stainers.
- Finally, visit your dentist regularly for professional clean-ups.
Photos via @laurabadura, @erinscottbeauty, Instagram