On a scale of 1 to killer, how nice is your smile? Do you have a set of pearly whites that can dazzle even the non-believer? Or do you regularly do a close-lipped twitch when people ask you to smile for the camera?
If the latter is the case (and it’s because you don’t like flashing your yellowish chompers)—we feel you, buddy. We know just how much of a blow to one’s confidence a less than perfect smile can be. Discolored or stained teeth can make even the most fine-featured fella self-conscious, after all.
The thing is, despite what many toothpaste commercials would have you believe, you won’t immediately get a shiny, picture-perfect smile just from a few rounds with the toothbrush. Though we can’t stress enough how important good oral hygiene is, you can actually get faster, brighter results by trying other means. Below, we list different ways you can whiten your teeth when toothpaste just won’t cut it.
1) Oil Pulling
Ever shoved a spoonful of pure oil in your mouth before? Well, here’s your chance! Don’t worry, you won’t be swallowing it. Instead, you’ll just be swishing it around for about 15-20 minutes. The oil supposedly picks up lingering bacteria and plaque from your teeth, so when you spit it out, you’ll have cleansed your mouth from all that nastiness.
In fact, whiter, cleaner teeth are just one of the purported effects of oil pulling. The old school method is believed to also reduce risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
So while it can be tiring to essentially gargle non-stop for upwards of a quarter of an hour, the results may just be worth it. And hey, if you want to make the experience a bit more pleasant, try doing this with coconut oil—that, at least, has a fairly pleasant taste.
2) Baking Soda
Another home remedy that has made the rounds and proven itself effective is brushing your teeth with baking soda. The mild abrasive scrubs away surface stains from your teeth, making them whiter.
To pull this off, create a runny paste by mixing baking soda with water, hydrogen peroxide, or lemon juice. Then, simply dip your toothbrush in the mixture and start brushing. Keep your motions gentle, and focus more on your front teeth. For best results, try to wipe off any excess saliva from your teeth beforehand.
It’s important to do this sparingly—at most, only use this method once or twice a week. Any more, and you risk damaging your teeth, as constant scrubbing with baking soda can wear down the enamel. This method should also not replace your regular oral hygiene routine.
3) Whitening Strips
Not sure everyday household products will do the trick? You can always try whitening strips. Arguably one of the most effective and popular conventional teeth whitening products out there, whitening strips work relatively fast and visibly brightens teeth.
The strips are coated in a peroxide gel, and when applied (one pressed to your upper teeth and another to your lower set) for a period of time, will lighten the stain build-up on your teeth. How often and how long you should wear a pair depends on the brand, but in general, full treatment can take up to two weeks of regular usage. Once completed, you’ll be boasting a much whiter smile for all to see. Even better, results last up to anywhere between 6 to 12 months.
Take heed: Prolonged and constant application can cause teeth sensitivity. Use in moderation, and consult with your dentist if you experience persistent discomfort.
4) LED Whitening System
Another home-based method involves your teeth getting up close and personal with a LED light. The LED or power whitening system is a bleach-based treatment that uses light to speed up the whitening effect, activating the peroxide which breaks down the compounds of the stain build-up on your teeth.
An LED whitening kit typically comes with a whitening gel, applicators, a mouth tray, and of course, the handheld LED light device. You put some of the gel on the tray and insert that in your mouth, taking care to align your teeth to the shape. Follow indicated instructions on how you’re supposed to fit the mouthpiece and hold the LED in place, then switch it on.
Bask in the eerie blue light for about 20 minutes (or however long the product prescribes), then turn it off and taking the entire thing out. Make sure to rinse out your mouth so there’s no leftover bleaching gel for your to accidentally swallow.
There are many factors to consider, from your level of sensitivity to the concentration of the whitening gel, since these determine how your treatment should proceed. For example, you might need to dial down the LED light or the lessen the gel or do extra sessions. Best to consult with your dentist before anything else.
There are many other ways to whiten your teeth, from home remedies and home-based whitening products to professional laser treatments at the clinic. Always remember though that none of these methods should substitute actual regular oral care. If your teeth are unhealthy inside, it's not gonna matter just how bright and white on the surface they are.