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A girl brushing her teeth

Everyone wants to have a brighter smile, but with so many different teeth whitening options that have become available in recent years, it can be overwhelming. It is necessary to first consider how much whitening is needed and the dedication of the user to the treatment. Someone looking just to clean off some staining will probably not need the same products as someone who wants a serious change in coloring.

Which options are the best? Which are the easiest to use? Which are the most affordable? Below are some examples of over-the-counter options available today, along with a few other examples of treatments.

Better Hygiene

The first and most important way to whiten teeth is to change bad habits. Teeth are easily stained by a diet that is high in sugar, especially sugary drinks like cola. Coffee can also stain teeth, and tobacco wreaks havoc on the mouth as well.

By brushing and flossing twice a day, getting dental checkups, and staying away from damaging foods, drinks, and other substances, teeth whitening will not even be as necessary, to begin with. But for those who already have had years of damage, more intense whitening may be needed.

Whitening Toothpaste and Mouthwash

The most affordable alternative to professional teeth whitening is using a mix of toothpaste and mouthwash specifically made for this purpose. When looking for these products, it is important to make sure they have real ingredients to whiten, such as hydrogen peroxide or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). Using only toothpaste and mouthwash may help a few shades, and will make the mouth healthier overall, but will not have dramatic results.

Strips and Pens

Teeth whitening strips and pens allow for more powerful doses of agents, like hydrogen peroxide, to more deeply penetrate the surface. When used properly, these solutions can improve color through multiple shades. However, without the professional feedback, the color could regress back to how they looked before. Also, these solutions are far more expensive than regular toothpaste and mouthwash (they can cost anywhere from 20 to over 50 dollars per treatment), which might be prohibitive for some.

Light with Gel

A newer choice that can be used from home, which mimics what some dentists can offer as well, utilizes light and gel. The gel has bleaching agents that are activated when the blue light is held close to the mouth. Many people have seen great results with this treatment, but there is not as much information on them because they are so new to the market.

Professional Options

Clearly, there are a countless number of options for getting a brighter smile at home. However, none of these options can do what professional dentistry can offer. That is because over-the-counter options have less potency of bleaching ingredients. Seeing a dentist allows for direct supervision of the application and guidance on the proper use. This ensures that no money will be wasted with treatments that are scams or ones that may show changes temporarily, only to go back later.