If you’re like me, you have a semi-secret list of small vanities that you would fix if you suddenly had the funds to do so. I say “semi-secret” because I’m okay with talking about them if asked, but I also don’t tell everyone I meet that I would drop cash on lasering away my armpit sweat glands in a heartbeat.
That being said, I’ve always wanted whiter teeth. I’ve tried the drugstore whitening strips, but they’re not great for people like me who don’t have perfectly straight teeth. I’ve tried whitening toothpastes and peroxide rinses, but I’ve never gotten good results. I drink a lot of coffee (and I have no plans on stopping), so I now understand that I’m going to need some big guns if I ever want to have truly pearly whites.
Up until recently, I thought that my only real option was to go to one of those cosmetic dentistry clinics to get expensive whitening treatments. While I’m certainly not above that, I also like to have options if they’re available.
Thanks to the pandemic, I’ve come to realize that you can get at-home professional-grade teeth whitening products delivered to your doorstep, and they’re not even break-the-bank expensive! Be still my heart.
An Important Aside
Before you go wild with the at-home teeth whitening, there are a couple of things to note.
First, this is something that should be treated like strong facial acids. You don’t want to overdo it, and you don’t want to rush the process. Getting overzealous with the whitening or thinking that more is better is a recipe for gum irritation and tooth sensitivity.
Second, I recommend asking your dentist about how much whitening your teeth can handle before you begin. Some people who are prone to cavities or soft enamel might need to approach at-home teeth whitening differently so that they don’t end up in pain.
At-home teeth whitening is something that should be treated like strong facial acids. You don’t want to overdo it, and you don’t want to rush the process.
At-home Teeth Whitening: The Tools
1. Mouth opener
If you’ve ever had dental work done, you’re probably familiar with these guys. They’re called cheek retractors, and they ensure that you can get to as many teeth as possible without having to awkwardly pull your lips out of the way.
Trust me, you need these.
2. LED curing lamp
This is the tool that makes the magic happen. Once you’ve painted the whitening gel onto your teeth, the LED lamp accelerates the process to give you better results with fewer treatments.
These can range from wildly expensive to suspiciously cheap, so be sure to read reviews! I would expect to spend a minimum of $50 to $100 on this step.
3. Carbamide peroxide
This is the most important part! Carbamide peroxide is what’s going to be doing the actual whitening. You can get this in varying strengths, but professional whitening treatments are typically 30 to 44 percent strength. If you’re nervous, there’s no harm in grabbing a lower-percentage treatment!
It may take a bit longer to see results, but I’ve read that some in-office treatments go as low as 20 percent strength. The most important part is to get something you’ll be comfortable with using regularly.
You can get easy application pens like these, or you can opt for the tray + syringes of gel combo, like this. Some gels come with their own small LED light, so it’s up to you to decide on which you’d prefer!
Tips to Make the Process Smoother
1. Grab a brush
Even if you decide to use mouthguard trays and syringes of gel, it’s a good idea to have a precision brush on hand. You can grab a cheap pack of teeth whitening pens for this, or you can use something like a silicone lip brush. The more precise you can be with painting the gel onto your teeth, the better your results will be!
2. Use remineralizing products
This is especially useful if your teeth are prone to sensitivity. Remineralizing gels and toothpastes help to strengthen your enamel and keep your teeth healthier overall. There are a lot of options out there, so I would recommend asking your dentist for his or her recommendation so that you’re getting something that will work best for your teeth.
3. Be patient (and realistic)
If you have decades of red wine and coffee stains, it’s going to take some time and effort to get Hollywood-level white teeth. Also, if your teeth are crooked, you might have to work a little harder to get uniform results.
Like I mentioned earlier, it’s always better to start slow with at-home teeth whitening because gum irritation and mouth sensitivity are no joke. Just like with every other worthwhile beauty endeavor, this is a marathon, not a sprint!
4. Take progress photos
Every time you do a treatment, take a photo beforehand. Just like with skin progress photos, try to take it in the same lighting. This will help you to gauge your progress, and it also makes it easier to compare your before and afters on the charts that most of these teeth whitening gels come with.
When you can easily see how far you’ve come, it’s easier to be patient about making more progress.
Get Ready For a Mask-free Life With Whiter Teeth
Soon it’s going to be normal to not wear a mask everywhere we go. When that happens, I can’t wait to be able to dazzle the world with a blindingly white smile, thanks to at-home teeth whitening.