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Dentist Recommended Teeth Whitening: Professional and At Home

Thinking about whitening your teeth? With today’s advances in cosmetic dentistry, there's never been a better, or less painful, time to brighten up your smile game. Plus whiter teeth can take years off your appearance. Teeth get discolored because of things like smoking, coffee, tea, berries, and red wine, but lucky for you most stains can be removed with an at-home or in-office tooth whitening procedure. I talked to two renowned dentists to learn the low-down on the best at-home and in-office tooth whitening procedures.

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Active Ingredient: Hydrogen Peroxide

While their are a lot of different product names and formats, most at-home (and in office) dental whitening treatments use hydrogen peroxide as a whitener. "Hydrogen and peroxide are the two active ingredients used to whiten teeth. These are present in both in-office and at-home whitening treatments, says Dr. Victoria Veytsman, Cosmetic Dentist and RealSelf contributor.

At Home Tooth Whitening

With at-home tooth whitening, it's important first and foremost to follow the instructions. Don't double the dosage thinking you've found a shortcut. Dr. Lana Rozenberg, a New York-based cosmetic dentist explains further, some people abuse whitening especially at-home kits, and wear them too long thinking it will whiten better and faster. That causes sensitivity in the teeth, translucency in the tooth edges, and gum irritation. All reversible once stopped. Most important is to follow the instructions, they are there for a reason!

DIY Tooth Whitening Products

Some guys might prefer a more do-it-yourself approach to tooth whitening. Veytsman explains, "For maintenance, natural remedies can be good.  A lot of my patients like coconut oil pulling, although there is little scientific evidence to support it. A good DIY at home could be mixing a small amount of hydrogen peroxide with water and baking soda. Using this mix occasionally can help. Diet plays a big role too "crunchy healthy things like apples can help remove stains." While it's a popular trend, beware of brushing activated charcoal directly on the teeth. It can strip the tooth enamel if not properly formulated.

Best Teeth Whitening Toothpastes and Trays

The easiest way to add teeth whitening to your daily routine is through whitening toothpaste. They're affordable, easy and fit our daily routine...but do they really work? Veytsman explains, "For daily use at home as part of a standard oral hygiene routine, I use and recommend Crest 3D White Toothpaste. I've seen great results with this and it’s something simple you can do every day at home. It has a micro polishing complex that doesn't let stains settle into the enamel and also has fluoride which helps prevent cavities!"

That said, whitening toothpastes only work to an extent according to NY Celeb Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Lana Rozenberg. It doesn’t bleach like professional whitening products but when used over time it can brighten the smile up to a couple of shades. They work by removing surface stains such as those caused by drinking coffee, tea or other colored liquid or food including smoking. Whitening toothpastes cannot change the natural color of your teeth or remove intrinsic stains (deeper than the surface). Some of the best at-home whitening treatments are Crest 3D or Opalescence Disposable Trays.

Teeth Whitening for Sensitive Teeth

Whitening products can be powerful and therefore hard on sensitive teeth. The good news is there is a bevy of products catering for both whitening and sensitivity. Veytsman recommends, Crest 3D White Strips Gentle makes a version called Gentle Routine which is great for sensitive teeth. You use it about a half-hour a day for 2 weeks. It works in a very similar way to the original Crest White Strips but has a special formula for sensitivity.

Professional Teeth Whitening Options

Zoom Whitening

A very popular in-office procedure is called Zoom WhiteningIt’s what I use on myself and my patients ”I’ve done literally hundreds and hundreds of them, says Veytsman. It’s the quickest, most conservative thing you can do to improve your smile for an instant boost. You can get anywhere from 3-7 shades lighter depending on where you are starting. It utilizes hydrogen peroxide which just oxidizes stains off the enamel with no damage.

I would definitely recommend a maintenance program after to keep your smile bright since teeth still do continue to stain. That could be Crest White strips or Whitening Pens.  We have patients that come in a day or up to a couple of days before an awards show. They can do that because there is no downtime, even though 1 out of 10 patients may experience slight sensitivity.

Rozenberg elaborates on a second alternative, the Zoom Quick Pro, which is 5 minute whitening system that does not use the light but is done in the office with no sensitivity and takes only 5 minutes, but the results are not the same as with the lamp. Up to 4 shades as with the lamp up to 8/9 shades whiter.

Dental Veneers

What about if you want something more dramatic, without the long time delay and hassle of gradual whitening? Enter dental veneers. While whitening is the quickest thing you can do I definitely recommend a Smile Makeovers before a big event, says Veytsman. This could as few as 4 Veneers on the top teeth and some whitening to a full set of upper and lower veneers. Veneers obviously will result in the most dramatic difference. This is for people that seriously want to pop on the red carpet or on stage.

We can change the color size and shape of teeth and really accentuate the whole face.  Sometimes we’ll do something simple like bonding and re-contouring where we can fix minor chipping and unevenness. That has a very nice impact too. It’s amazing how a combination of small tweaks and changes can yield big overall results.

There’s a huge anti-aging component to teeth whitening. Everyone is chasing youth in this millennial culture. Luckily with cosmetic dentistry, it becomes accessible.


Born and raised in Austin, David is a dedicated writer and avid fragrance lover. When he's not trying out perfumes, he enjoys traveling and exploring new restaurants.