DIY Teeth Whitening: Too Good to Be True? (2024)

From wedding dresses to recipes and beyond, anyone can post or “pin” ideas they have to the popular website Pinterest—including health tips.But if some of the do-it-yourself teeth whitening advice you see there seems too good to be true, it’s likely because it is. UR Medicine dental expert Dr. Hans Malmstrom explains why some of the tips may have negative consequences.

Pinterest Tip: To whiten teeth, use a mouth guard with 2 parts baking soda to 1 part hydrogen peroxide, 10 minutes daily for 2 weeks.

Dr. Malmstrom: It’s not a good idea to use a mouth guard for whitening that’s not specifically fitted for your mouth by a dentist because the hydrogen peroxide could irritate your gums. If your gums are recessed and the hydrogen peroxide touches an exposed tooth root surface, this can also cause a problem.

Another potential issue can be the amount of hydrogen peroxide used. The concentration approved as safe and effective by the FDA and ADA for tooth whitening (10 percent Carbamide Peroxide) is similar to 3.6 percent hydrogen peroxide. Since it would be extremely difficult to mix the amount of hydrogen peroxide accurately when you’re using it at home, it’s not a good idea to try this whitening method.

Pinterest Tip: Wet your toothbrush and then dip it in 1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder. Brush teeth as normal but, instead of rinsing when you’re done, allow the turmeric to sit on your teeth for 3 to 5 minutes. Spit and rinse thoroughly then follow with a second brushing using your regular toothpaste.

DIY Teeth Whitening: Too Good to Be True? (1)Dr. Malmstrom: There are many studies showing how turmeric is good for you internally, but there are no studies showing turmeric to be an effective tooth whitener. I would not recommend any method that hasn’t already been proven to work, as we have safe and effective techniques that have been researched.

Pinterest Tip: Make coconut oil toothpaste by mixing 1 part coconut oil with 1 part baking soda. Add 3 to 5 drops of food-grade essential oils to flavor to your taste. Allow your paste to cool and set.

Dr. Malmstrom: The baking soda in this tip may have some impact on whitening your teeth but there are no studies showing if coconut oil works as a tooth whitener. If you’re going to do tooth whitening at home, you’re better off using an over-the-counter product rather than a DIY technique.

Pinterest Tip: Mix 3 teaspoons of baking soda with 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. Use a Q-tip or cotton ball and gently swab teeth. After 30 seconds, rinse and brush teeth.

Dr. Malmstrom: Lemon juice is acidic, and even whitening gels are not good if they’re acidic because you can remove the superficial layer of the tooth structure. Most whitening gels are all neutral with a PH of 7 because you want to minimize the acidic effect on your teeth so it doesn’t impact the enamel layer. While this method may have a positive effect because of the baking soda, it’s not recommended to use an acidic on the tooth first as it may erode some of the enamel. This is similar to the effect cola or sports drinks have on teeth because they are also highly acidic.

Other Tooth Whitening Advice

  • Before you do any bleaching, even with over-the-counter products, you should have your teeth checked by your dentist for any tooth problems, such as cavities or cracks, which could cause the pulp to become irritated during whitening.
  • Whitening toothpaste is not very effective for whitening. You have to use it for a long time to see even the slightest effect.
  • The best way to bleach your teeth is at home with a lower-concentration hydrogen peroxide gel, as recommended by your dentist and used in mouth guards custom made by your dentist. The level of whitening achieved in an hour and a half of bleaching done by a dentist at the office can take up to two weeks with home bleaching, but there are fewer side effects and you have the opportunity to continue whitening until you are satisfied with the shade. Later on if you wish to “touch up” your teeth with more whitening, you would only need to buy more whitening gel.

DIY Teeth Whitening: Too Good to Be True? (2)Hans Malmstrom, DDS, a professor of Dentistry at Eastman Institute for Oral Health, heads the General Dentistry clinic at Eastman Dental.

DIY Teeth Whitening: Too Good to Be True? (2024)


DIY Teeth Whitening: Too Good to Be True? ›

Professional teeth whitening is better than DIY teeth whitening in every way. Some might argue that you can save some money by whitening your teeth at home, and while this is true, you will still risk your tooth health.

Is DIY teeth whitening safe? ›

In general, Dr. Tam said, at-home chemical bleaching treatments are safe and effective when used as advertised. But it's best to go with products that have lower concentrations of chemicals and shorter exposure times, she said.

What is the healthiest way to whiten your teeth? ›

Tooth whitening by your dentist will not only be more effective, but it will also be safer. Your dentist will examine you before the treatment and make sure your mouth is in a healthy condition. They will also pick up a trace of any disease. This will all take place in the safest location… the dental practice.

Is it safe to put aluminum foil on your teeth? ›

Biting on an aluminum foil can produce a small electrical current that stimulates your teeth's nerve endings, causing tingling pain and discomfort, especially if you have metal filling or crowns. Additionally, both salt and baking soda are abrasive ingredients that can promote enamel erosion.

Is it better to whiten your teeth at the dentist or DIY? ›

Choosing a non-professional teeth whitening treatment can carry a higher risk of adverse effects, including damage to your teeth and gums, and even a worsening of your discoloration. By far, the safest and most effective option is to have your teeth professionally whitened by your dentist.

Is there a home teeth whitening that really works? ›

If you don't have whitening trays and want as close to professional results as possible, the Opalescence Go 15% is the way to go. Like Crest 3D Whitestrips, the whitening gel comes in ready-made trays that adapt to your teeth all the way to your molars.

Is there a way to whiten teeth without damaging enamel? ›

Here are six ways for you to naturally whiten your teeth without the use of any harmful chemicals:
  1. First things first, brush your teeth regularly: ...
  2. Oil pulling: ...
  3. Brush with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide paste: ...
  4. Rub banana, orange, or lemon peels: ...
  5. Take a diet rich in fruits and vegetables: ...
  6. Go to the dentist:

What is the least harmful way to whiten teeth? ›

Overuse or misuse of teeth-whitening products can cause sensitivity, gum irritation, and other side effects. Custom-fitted trays and in-office treatments are the safest and most effective ways to whiten teeth. ADA-approved over-the-counter toothpastes, gels, and strips are more affordable and convenient options.

Can yellow teeth become white again? ›

What Can Be Done to Whiten Yellow Teeth? If you're looking for a radical change in the coloring of your teeth, you need professional-grade whitening to get the job done. Your cosmetic dentist can provide treatment that penetrates deep into the enamel and removes years of stains with a powerful bleaching agent.

What do dentists recommend to whiten teeth? ›

Carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide are commonly used in whitening interventions and can readily permeate dental hard tissues.

How to make teeth white DIY? ›

Using hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a mild bleach that can help to whiten stained teeth . For optimal whitening, a person can try brushing with a mix of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide for 1–2 minutes twice a day for a week.

Is baking soda better than whitening strips? ›

Less dramatic whitening

Baking soda is a mild abrasive. While the American Dental Association (ADA) considers baking soda safe for your enamel and dentin, some researchers have given it a low rating as a teeth whitener because it may not remove stains as effectively as some other products.

How to make a teeth whitening strip at home? ›

This treatment involves mixing salt, baking soda, and water to make a “whitening paste” that you apply to a sheet of foil. Then, you're supposed to fold the foil over your teeth and leave it in place for an hour.

What whitens teeth the fastest at home? ›

The two main ingredients used in home teeth whitening kits are hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide, Dr. Cho says. “These are the most effective whitening ingredients,” she adds. The higher the percentage of these ingredients, the more whitening they will achieve, Mehta says.

How can I genuinely whiten my teeth? ›

Seven Ways to Naturally Whiten Teeth
  1. Eat Strawberries. One of the simplest ways to naturally whiten your teeth is just by eating strawberries. ...
  2. Eat Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables. ...
  3. Brush After You Eat or Drink. ...
  4. Rinse with Apple Cider Vinegar. ...
  5. Apply Coconut Oil. ...
  6. Brush Your Tongue. ...
  7. Use Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide.

How can I whiten my teeth without going to the dentist? ›

Combine 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of hydrogen peroxide with 1 teaspoon (6 grams) of baking soda and gently brush your teeth with the mixture. Limit the use of this homemade paste to a few times per week, as overuse can erode your tooth enamel.

Is it safe to whiten teeth at home? ›

Whether you used over the counter bleaching strips or visited the dentist for teeth-whitening, whitening toothpaste and mouthwashes are safe to use. Whether individuals use over-the-counter tooth-whitening products or seek care from a dental provider, the effects of either method typically last up to three years.

Are any home teeth whitening kits safe? ›

What are the risks of teeth whitening? No matter what treatment you use, there's a chance your gums will be sensitive to the chemicals used in teeth whitening, particularly if you already have sensitive teeth. There's also a chance of burns to gums and some of the whitening kits used at home can harm tooth enamel.

How long does DIY teeth whitening last? ›

If you opt for an at-home teeth whitening kit, you can generally expect your results to last for about four to six months with touch-ups as needed. However, if you choose to get your teeth professionally whitened at the dentist's office, your results could last up to a year or even longer with proper care.

Does swishing hydrogen peroxide whiten teeth? ›

When used carefully, it can be an effective way to whiten your teeth. But if used incorrectly — in concentrations that are too high or if used too often — it can cause serious and sometimes expensive tooth damage. If you choose to whiten your teeth with hydrogen peroxide, do so cautiously.

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