What is the best way to whiten my teeth?

First of all, start with the basics: brush and floss regularly. Basic home dental care is one of the best ways to minimize staining and discoloration of teeth. Also, avoid foods and drinks that tend to stain teeth, such as wine, tea, and coffee, as well as tobacco products. A good rule of thumb is, anything that can stain a shirt can stain your teeth.

However, many people looking for a whiter smile have a number of teeth whitening products to choose from, in addition to just brushing and flossing. Teeth whitening products work by actually bleaching the surface of the teeth, using one of two ingredients: hydrogen peroxide or carbide peroxide. (Please don’t try and save money by rinsing with hydrogen peroxide from your local grocery store. The concentration of peroxide in such products is much too high for whitening teeth, and can actually cause damage to the soft tissues of your mouth.)

There are a variety of whitening and bleaching products on the market, including toothpastes, white strips, and at-home bleaching kits. However, these products—especially bleaching kits—do carry some risks, such as burning sensations on the gums and soft tissues, increased tooth sensitivity, and even injury to soft tissues. If you are interested in bleaching your teeth, your dentist can provide you with the materials and instructions necessary to maximize your results while minimizing potential risks to your dental health.