Lady smiling holding teeth whitening kit
Making your teeth as white as they can be no longer requires an appointment with your dentist. Crest Crest

White teeth signal many positive things: good looks, good health, a clean mouth, and a promise of fresh breath, stained or yellowish teeth indicate someone who—true or not—didn’t practice proper dental hygiene. People who are genetically predisposed to having a thin tooth enamel are especially prone to having off-white teeth, because that allows the yellow dentine beneath the enamel to show through. Such people could take excellent care of their teeth, but not have a glowing white smile to show for it. That’s one reason why millions of dollars a year are spent on teeth whitening products and practices. While such an endeavor used to require a trip to the dentist, the advent of self-applied products allows people to whiten their teeth at home.

If you are considering using a teeth-whitening product, you have four basic methods to choose from. The best one to choose depends on how actively or passively you want to approach the process, and how much time you have to devote to the endeavor. Here’s the breakdown.

Will help your chompers lose their yellow highlights, though it will take some time. Cali White

A tooth-whitening toothpaste is by far the easiest method to brighten your teeth, because you don’t need to take any additional steps—just brush your teeth as usual. These toothpastes contain teeth-whitening agents that remove and prevent stains on teeth. Several types are available, including all-natural toothpastes

Good Value

Contains 44 dental strips, which is enough for 22 uses. Crest

These strips are coated with a teeth-whitening gel and apply directly to the teeth. The advantage is the strips keep that gel directly on the teeth, filling in the gaps between, and also allow you to go about much of your day normally (though talking clearly may be difficult because the strips may shift).

Fast and easy to use and can be carried in a purse or pocket. AsaVea

These pens contain a stain-removing agent and must be used twice daily. They’re easy to use and are handy when traveling or for quick applications (though you need to brush, floss, and dry your teeth before using). You can move about and talk normally after using a pend, though you shouldn’t eat or drink for a while immediately afterward.

Accelerated Use

Consists of a tray that treats both upper and lower teeth simultaneously. AuraGlow

These kits consist of a tray with spaces for both your upper and lower teeth. You fill the spaces with teeth-whitening gel, insert the tray into your mouth, and leave it there for a certain amount of time (typically no more than half an hour). Some tray kits contain an LED light, which is said to accelerate the whitening process. These kits allow you to apply teeth-whitening gel to all tooth surfaces, but obviously they don’t allow for talking while in use.