A bright, glowing grin can work wonders to turn back the clock, but obstacles to teeth whitening, such as sensitivity or stubborn stains, can dim our smiles and our spirits. Take a look at these solutions that sidestep common whitening arghs so you can flash those pearly whites with confidence.
If teeth whitening causes sensitivity…
The longer hydrogen peroxide (a standard whitening agent) sits on teeth, the more sensitive they become as it temporarily demineralizes the enamel, says Los Altos, California, cosmetic dentist Joseph Field, DDS. What can help: a coconut oil–infused whitener. The antibacterial oil reduces discoloration-causing plaque by 60 percent, allowing peroxide to sit on teeth for less time for a gentler approach.
One to try: Burst Coconut Whitening Strips (Buy on Amazon, $19.99). Use once a day for 10 minutes to see results in seven days.
If teeth appear dull post-treatment…
Over time, eating and drinking can erode the enamel and expose dentin — the brown or yellow tinged-tissue beneath it — which can’t be bleached. To remedy, Dr. Field suggests brushing with a paste made with sodium fluoride and potassium nitrate. “These ions strengthen and remineralize the enamel, which prevents the thinning that can cause dentin to show through, so teeth eventually appear whiter.”
One to try: Spotlight Toothpaste for Rebuilding Teeth (Buy on CVS, $9.99). Note: Results can take up to three months.
If stains remain after whitening…
Severe, embedded stains can’t always be reached by traditional whitening methods, which often just sit on the surface of teeth. The fix? A “power whitening” kit that comes with trays filled with 35 percent carbamide peroxide (a bleach often used in in-office whitening treatments) and a blue LED light. The trays push the peroxide onto teeth and into harder-to-reach crevices. And the blue light activates the peroxide, creating a reaction that breaks down the proteins that bind stubborn stains together.
One to try: iSmile LED Teeth Whitening Kit (Buy on Amazon, $48). To do: Use for 10 minutes a day and teeth will appear up to eight shades brighter within one week. As an extra tip, Dr. Field recommends doing this once you’re done eating for the day since bleaching ingredients can cause teeth to become temporarily porous, making them susceptible to new stains from foods or beverages consumed right after.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First for Women.