Whitening teeth at home can be done with a variety of over-the-counter products or by creating your own whitening solution. Products for purchase include such items as teeth-whitening gels, toothpastes, mouthwashes, strips, trays and paint-on whiteners. A mix of common household products, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and water, can also form a whitening paste that can be brushed on.
Teeth become stained for several reasons. Over time, plaque builds up and teeth retain the color of food. This is greatly increased by certain habits, including drinking excessive amounts of dark soda, coffee or red wine, or by smoking. Over a lifetime, however, even regular brushing, flossing and healthy eating will not prevent some buildup. It can still be healthy and affordable to whiten teeth at home regardless of habits.
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For store-bought products, many consider trays or strips to be most effective to whiten teeth at home. The perceived advantage of these products is that they keep the whitening ingredients closer to your teeth longer. Paint-on teeth whiteners are often suggested for use on specific areas on the tooth in need of improvement. Toothpastes and mouthwashes are easy to use but are estimated to provide about a two-shade whitening increase, which compares to an estimated five-shade increase from trays and strips.
To create a product to whiten teeth at home begins with mixing hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and water. Hydrogen peroxide is a common antiseptic often used to clean out cuts and scrapes, or even stains, and can be purchased over the counter. Drop two or three tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide into 1/4 cup (60 ml) baking soda. Mix together by adding one drop of water at a time until it forms the consistency of toothpaste.
This paste might not taste good, and should not be swallowed but is effective in cleaning out and killing harmful bacteria that are causing discoloration. Apply this paste to a toothbrush and brush as normal, being careful not to swallow, and then rinse thoroughly. It is important to follow this home remedy with consistent good brushing habits. Immediately after using this method to whiten teeth at home, an individual should brush his or her teeth with regular toothpaste, and then floss.
Certain fruits are also beneficial, and can be used to whiten teeth at home without any special paste. Both strawberries and apples have rough surfaces that help scrape off unwanted plaque. By adding them to a diet, an individual can whiten his or her teeth without any extra effort beyond a regular tooth-brushing and flossing regimen.
It is a common myth that acidic fruits such as lemons, oranges and grapefruits also can help whiten teeth at home, but this is false. The calcium in these fruits strips teeth, giving them a temporarily whiter appearance, but it can actually damage tooth enamel. Scrubbing teeth with any calcium-rich food or juice (for example, gargling lemon juice) is harmful and will not ultimately prove helpful as a method to whiten teeth at home.