Professionals, on the other hand, “can take all the necessary precautions to make sure the gum tissue is safe and protected and the whitening agent is only getting on the tooth enamel that we want whiter.”
Ultimately, Messina says that all over-the-counter, peroxide-based whiteners will deliver comparable results as long as you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use. One ingredient to steer clear of? Hydrated silica. Hadaegh says that the substance is “made from a crystallized compound found in quartz and sand [and] can damage tooth enamel and gum tissue.”
Aside from that, Giri Palani, a dentist in Beverly Hills and Palos Verdes, California says the most important thing is to look for when you’re shopping is ease of use. “Also, [you] want to make sure that the product you buy has a good shelf life and you store the product properly ([in] the refrigerator will last longer),” he says.
Once you have a kit, Messina says you can use it for seven to 10 days to start, and then once every other week or so for maintenance. Before you do so, though, consider taking a trip to the dentist for your standard teeth cleaning and to consult on your at-home whitening plans.
“Tooth whitening is something that should only be done in a healthy mouth situation,” he says. “If somebody has cavities or periodontal disease, or some other reason why their teeth aren’t white, whitening is not the right choice for them. That’s why it’s always good to have a thorough examination done by your dentist before starting on a whitening program.”
Not to mention, if you do the whitening right after having your teeth cleaned at the dentist, Messina says, you’ll be whitening your tooth enamel itself rather than the tartar or build-up on top of it. Regardless, he says, involving your dentist in the discussion will help you ensure you’re taking the right path.
Once you have that conversation, consider one of these over-the-counter kits.
1. Crest 3D White Whitestrips Professional Effects Teeth Whitening Kit