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The 6 Best & Worst Teeth Whitening Methods, According to a Dentist

A dentist breaks down the best and worst methods to whiten your teeth.
FACT CHECKED BY Justine Goodman

Being able to display an impressive set of pearly white teeth is something many of us seek. According to a 2022 survey conducted by Mintel/Greenfield Online, 67% of American adults have used some sort of teeth whitening method. And the services and products that promise to help you achieve whiter teeth are truly endless, from at-home whitening strips to in-office laser treatments. But which of these teeth-whitening methods truly live up to the hype? Eat This, Not That! spoke with Manhattan cosmetic dentist Dr. Michael Wei, DDS, FIADFE, who shares the best and worst teeth whitening methods—and many of the good ones can easily be incorporated into your beauty routine.

Keep reading to learn more about the best and worst things you can do for white teeth so you know what is and isn't worth your time and money. And when you're finished, be sure to check out I Tried 4 Pairs of HOKA Sneakers & One Beats the Rest By a Mile.

The Best Teeth Whitening Methods:

1. Teeth Whitening Strips

whitening strips

If you've been curious about trying teeth whitening strips, Dr. Wei gives them his seal of approval, calling strips one of the best teeth whitening methods out there. "These are thin strips of plastic that you apply to your teeth and they contain a peroxide-based whitening solution that helps to break down stains and discoloration," he explains, adding they can be incredibly effective when used correctly.

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2. Whitening Toothpaste

man putting toothpaste on his toothbrush, side effects of not brushing teeth at night

Another method you can easily implement into your current morning and nighttime routines? Whitening toothpaste! "This type of toothpaste contains abrasives and special chemicals, which help to remove surface stains and discoloration," Dr. Wei tells us.

3. Laser Whitening

laser teeth whitening

Laser whitening may not be accessible for all, but Dr. Wei says it is among the most effective teeth whitening methods. "This is a professional teeth whitening procedure administered by a dentist, which involves the direct application of a peroxide-based whitening gel onto the teeth and a laser is used to activate the gel," he explains. "Professional whitening treatments use a stronger bleaching agent and are more effective than at-home whitening kits, but they can also be more expensive."

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The Worst Teeth Whitening Methods:

1. Oil Pulling

oil pulling

When it comes to your overall health and wellness, there are a lot of cool tips, tricks, and trends to try—but oil pulling for whiter teeth is not one of them. "This is an Ayurvedic practice that involves swishing a tablespoon of oil in your mouth for up to 20 minutes in order to remove toxins and bacteria," Dr. Wei says. "Although this practice is beneficial for oral hygiene, it has not been proven to whiten teeth."

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2. Baking Soda

baking soda toothpaste

Another method you shouldn't waste your time on? Baking soda (which is typically combined with water to form a paste), as it can be incredibly abrasive. "Baking soda is not effective at whitening teeth and can actually lead to damage to tooth enamel," Dr. Wei warns.

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3. Charcoal

charcoal toothpaste

Last but not least, you've likely seen charcoal toothpaste and powders that claim to give you a whiter, brighter smile, but be cautious before adding one of them to your shopping cart. "Charcoal is a popular choice for natural teeth whitening, but it is abrasive and can actually damage tooth enamel," Dr. Wei. You want whiter teeth, but you don't want to damage them in the process!

No matter what you choose, it's essential to see your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings if you want to keep your teeth and gums healthy well into old age. After all, you don't just want teeth that look healthy; you want them to be healthy, too.

Alexa Mellardo
Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa
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