How to whiten your teeth

It’s all about the right products when it comes to safe and effective teeth whitening.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Having a great smile and white teeth is something many people want. Teeth whitening can be a means to get the mega-watt smile you want. 

Dr. Shelley Olson, DDS, broke down what to know about using the right whitening products. 

What patients should know about teeth whitening:

  • Most teeth whitening hacks demonstrated on social media aren’t safe or effective..
  • TikTok and Instagram whitening hacks can damage teeth and do more harm than good.
  • Teeth whitening* is safest under the advisement of your dentist.
  • Consult with your dentist before beginning teeth whitening treatment.
  •  Teeth Whitening Does not work for everyone. 
  • Whitening will not work on caps, veneers, crowns or fillings… It also won’t be effective if your tooth discoloration is caused by medications or a tooth injury.

Charcoal whitening- Before using charcoal-based products, be aware that charcoal itself contains harsh and abrasive properties that can damage your tooth enamel.

According to the American Dental Association, there is no evidence indicating whitening with charcoal is safe or effective.

Safe Whitening Options: 

  • Stain Removal ToothpastesLook for whitening toothpastes that have earned the ADA Seal of Acceptance for stain removal. These types of ADA-Accepted products do not change the color of teeth because they can only remove stains on the surface.
  • In-Office BleachingAlso called chairside bleaching and usually requires only one office visit. The dentist will apply either a protective gel to your gums or a rubber shield to protect your gums. Bleach is then applied to the teeth.
  • Over-the-Counter Bleaching ProductsIf you are thinking about using an over-the-counter bleaching kit, such as whitening strips, discuss options with your dentist and be sure the product includes the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
  • At-Home Bleaching from Your Dentist: Your dentist can provide you with a custom-made tray for at-home whitening.
    • Your dentist will give you instructions on how to place the bleaching solution in the tray and for what length of time.
    • Good option if you prefer whitening in your own home at a slower pace, but with the guidance of a dentist.
    • Out-of-office bleaching can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

Teeth Whitening Side Effects 

Some people who use teeth whiteners may experience tooth sensitivity. Overuse of whitening products can damage the tooth enamel or gums, so be sure to follow directions and talk to your dentist.


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