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There are many affordable options for busy people on the go. You only get one chance to make a first impression. Let’s face it society is shallow we are all judged by how we look. Looking at an attractive person with yellow or decaying teeth overshadows their beauty.

But of course, as with anything, you get what you pay for. Getting professional treatments gets the job done right. On the other hand, it doesn’t hurt to try more natural options. Again, full disclosure - you’ll get better results with a teeth whitening procedure by a dental professional.

Food and beverages to avoid to get that white smile

Soft Drinks high sugar content increases acidity
Energy Drinks high sugar content increases acidity
Gum adheres to teeth
fruit drinks contains high fructose corn syrup
starch foods (corn syrup) raises acidity levels and increases bacteria
candy artificial sweeteners and erodes enamel
coffee, lattes, espresso stains enamel
cereal contains both refined sugars and starch


White teeth are a good sign of health and wellness. The way we look determines our self worth. Having a great smile is an important part of how we perceive ourselves. Teeth whitening or bleaching procedures can last up to 6 months depending on the patient.

2 Types of Tooth Discoloration

Extrinsic staining is the visible discoloration you see after drinking coffee, tea or other dark liquids. Extrinsic staining can be repaired by teeth bleaching and regular dental cleaning.

Intrinsic stains are formed in the interior of the teeth, resulting from trauma, aging and the excessive ingestion of fluoride.

Cosmetic dentists are now able to remove intrinsic stains through a number of modern methods. Here are 8 good or not good ways to whiten your teeth:

  1. Whitening Strips 

    Home whitening strips are convenient and easy to use. Whitening strips are made from polyethylene. Whitening strips coated with hydrogen or carbamide peroxide are made to adhere to the surface of your teeth. The active ingredient is the peroxide that oxidizes when it comes into contact with the saliva in your mouth. Oxidation is the interaction between oxygen molecules and the substances they come in  contact with. Whitening strips are an inexpensive option for creating that flawless smile, prices range from $25 to $50 at your local drug store.

  2. Paint on Whiteners

    This is another at home method that is easily applied. The teeth whitener is applied directly to the teeth using a brush. The paint on teeth whitener gel is made of a peroxide base.  The whitener stays on the teeth for a duration of 20 to 30 minutes before it dissolves or you wash it off. Colgate Palmolive debuted their Paint on teeth whitener in 2002 with their over the counter Colgate Simply White product.

  3. Dental Dispensed Teeth Whitening Trays 

    For best results a dental physician can custom fit you with an application tray made of a flexible plastic material. Whitening trays work so well because the gel stays in contact with the teeth during the bleaching process. Bleaching compounds in dental trays are preloaded with dental gel or can be applied with a syringe. Dental trays prevent the saliva in your mouth from diluting the dental gel solution. A word of caution whitening trays and dental gels should only be used periodically after consulting with your dentist. The higher priced dental whitening trays provide accelerated results in a shorter period of time. Whitening trays can be worn overnight or twice a day depending on your at home program. Whitening gel ingredients contain glycerin, carbamide peroxide, aqua, potassium nitrate, carbomer, mentha piperita, peppermint oil, sodium hydroxide and disodium EDTA. Whitening trays should only be used in the care of a dental physician. Custom trays typically cost between $300-$500.

  4. Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide

    This inexpensive method works great but must be used with caution (always use gloves). Food grade hydrogen peroxide should always be used diluted with distilled or mineral spring water. The most effective way to use 35 percent H202 is to dilute it with distilled or unadulterated spring water using the chart recommendations below. Using 35 percent H202 as a mouthwash for 30 to 60 seconds at a time in the morning and at night can yield results in as short as two weeks. Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide should NEVER be ingested as it can cause extreme stomach irritation.  Hydrogen peroxide is the active ingredient found in whitening strips, paint on whiteners and dental dispensed teeth whitening trays.Diluting 35% H202 w/Distilled Water To Get 3% H202

    This amount of water Add this amount of water To make this amount of 3% H202
    1 part 11 parts 12 parts
    1 ¼ tablespoons ¾ cups and 2 and ¾ tablespoons 1 cup (16 tablespoons)
  5. Baking Soda

    For those of you on a budget brushing with ARM & HAMMER baking soda and a little water in the morning is a great way to whiten your teeth. Before the advent of toothpaste baking soda was previously used as a natural and affordable way to clean teeth. Natural baking soda naturally alkalizes the oral cavity and neutralizes acidity caused by acidic food and drink. One thing to note is that baking soda does well for extrinsic stains but not so well for intrinsic stains. So keep that in mind.

  6. Oil Pulling

    This ancient Ayurvedic practice has existed for thousands of years. Oil pulling is a therapeutic dental and oral care regime that can be practiced on a daily basis. For best results essential oils like peppermint, wintergreen, sesame, sunflower and safflower oil can all be used for their antiseptic, astringent and anodyne properties. Another name for oil pulling is (Mouth Swishing). The practice of oil pulling is the elimination of heavy toxins from your body through the mouth. Mouth swishing organic oil products can be purchased from online retailers like Dhealthstore. The recommended duration for performing Mouth Swishing is pouring 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil into your mouth for 10 to 15 minutes daily. Oil should never be ingested spit out after each use. A dark colour in the saliva is an indication that you still have toxins in your body. The more transparent your saliva the less toxins are present in your body. After you complete your mouth swishing regimen brush your teeth.

  7. Alkaline Water Ionizer

    Alkaline water is the fountain of youth and wellness. Drinking water with a pH level of 9 to 11 can whiten your teeth naturally. Studies by watchdog groups like FLUORIDEALERT have stated that the mass fluoridation of municipal water supplies is detrimental to dental health. Alkaline water machines have a reverse osmosis system that negates the effects of chlorine and fluoride on the human body. Water ionizers work by increasing the alkalinity pH levels in the human body and negating the effects of acidity and fluoride in the human mouth.

  8. Permanent Whitening

    One of the procedures we do involves bonding a no-prep white, opaque, ultra-thin veneer onto your tooth. Get that done and you won’t have to worry about the colour of that tooth ever again. Why? Because it’ll be permanently white.


Depending on your budget brightening your smile can be accomplished easily - but remember that you get what you pay for. Beginners can implement at home remedies but as I mentioned at the beginning, I would consult with a dental practitioner before undergoing any kind of teeth whitening program.

Smiling woman after teeth whitening

Teeth whitening is the single most popular cosmetic dental procedure on the planet, and thanks to modern dental technology, everyone can afford to have his or her teeth bleached professionally.

Teeth Whitening History

The ancient Egyptians would whiten their teeth with ground pumice mixed with vinegar. As unpleasant as it may sound, the ancient Romans used urine for teeth whitening. The ammonia found in urine acts as a bleaching agent because of the acidic content. During the 16th century, barbers got into the act. After a shave and a haircut, the barber would file down the surface of the teeth before applying acid. This worked wonders, but it also eroded the tooth’s enamel, which led to tooth decay.

Teeth after whitening

Thankfully, these days you do not have to resort to ancient teeth whitening methods as there are dozens of over the counter teeth whitening products available.

Your Teeth Whitening Options

Before you shell out the bucks for a teeth whitening kit, make an appointment with your dentist who can determine if you are a good candidate for teeth whitening altogether. People who have crowns, root canals and other dental restorative work will not see a difference when it comes to teeth whitening as tooth bleaching will only work on natural teeth. Your dentist may also recommend professional teeth whitening, which can last for quite some time as long as you avoid red wine, tobacco products, and any other food or liquid that has a tendency to dull your pearly whites. Professional tooth whitening, is not permanent, and may need to be retouched every few years.

Consider Tooth Bleaching

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Professional tooth bleaching requires two visits with your dentist. During your first tooth whitening appointment, your dentist will create molds of your teeth so that your clear, custom tooth whitening trays fit perfectly. After your trays are made, you will be checked for proper fit at your second dental appointment. Your dentist will give you a whitening solution that works with your tooth bleaching trays. Depending on the degree of staining on your teeth, you will either wear your trays thirty minutes twice a day, or overnight for about two weeks.


Tooth bleaching works best for patients who have stained or yellowed teeth, outer layer wear on teeth or stained teeth due to tetracycline, and other medications. If you were subjected to excessive fluoride when your teeth were developing you may have flourosis that can be helped with professional tooth whitening.

Natural Ways To Keep Your Teeth White

After you have the desired results from your professional teeth whitening treatment, there are some things you can do to keep your teeth white and bright.


Avoid coffee, tea, red wine, and tobacco products. Some spices can also stain your teeth. Go easy on the curry powder and rinse after eating colorful foods.

Brushing and flossing not only helps keep your teeth white, but it can also prevent tooth decay. Ask your dentist about tooth whitening pastes and mouthwashes as they can help prevent professional tooth bleaching touch ups. Check on the American Dental Association website where you will find a list of teeth whitening products that are safe for your teeth and gums.

If you have noticed some yellowing, but are not scheduled to see your dentist for the next few months ask your dentist about in home whitening products that will give you results in-between professional tooth whitening touch ups. You can also whiten your teeth the natural way using products that you would find in your pantry or fridge.


Believe it or not, if you rub strawberries and other fruits on your teeth you can whiten your teeth naturally. Just be sure to brush with toothpaste immediately after to remove the acids and sugars. Make a paste out of lemons and salt. Use like toothpaste and apply to your toothbrush for a couple of days. Don’t forget to brush after, as lemons are highly acidic and can eat the enamel on your teeth.


Eat crunchy vegetables. Enjoying celery, broccoli, cucumbers, and carrots can also help keep your teeth bright as crunchy veggies and fruits are natural teeth whiteners, and because of the crunch, will get your saliva going. Apples contain malic acid, which is found in over the counter and professional tooth whitening products. The malic acid dissolves the stains on your teeth keeping the dentist, and the doctor away.


Brushing with baking soda work wonders on tooth stains. In fact, baking soda was used before toothpaste was even invented. Make a paste with a pinch of salt, baking soda, and water. Brush as you normally would and be sure to rinse. Your dentist recommends that this method only be used a couple of times a week as baking soda is very abrasive. You could also add some lemon juice to the paste.


Hydrogen Peroxide is the most powerful bleaching agent in the world. You may use it to disinfect or cleanse a wound, but H202 can also be used as an oxidizer and toothpaste. Hydrogen Peroxide is an active ingredient in mouthwashes and toothpastes. Make a safe solution using equal parts with water and you can use it like a mouthwash. Declared safe by the American Dental Association, H202 is a great way to whiten your teeth at home.

If you would like more information regarding teeth whitening, schedule an appointment with your dentist today.

About Dr. Michael Layton

Dr. Michael Layton PostsDr. Michael Layton (DDS) is the dentist for Peace Arch Dental, a dental office in the South Surrey/White Rock, B.C. area. He has been in the dental industry for the last decade and received his Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Washington. He takes pride in providing positive and caring dental solutions for people of every walk of life. You can follow him on Google+.

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