Updated: 2/6/2020

We all long for whiter teeth. According to a Harris Interactive survey sponsored by Philips Sonicare, 55% of adults believe that the friendliness of a person is revealed in their smile. Additionally, 78% believe that a smile reflects a person’s personality. Because of this, 53% of the adults surveyed stated that if they could fix one thing about their smile, they would make it whiter.

If you fall in the majority of adults looking for a whiter smile, you may be wondering how to accomplish such a feat. There are many options available for teeth whitening: professional, store bought, and home remedies. How do you know which one is the best for you? What are the pros and cons of each? How much does each one cost? We answer all these questions and more in our guide to teeth whitening below.

guide to whiter teeth

Ways to Whiten

In general, there are three ways to whiten your teeth: at the dentist by a professional, with a store-bought kit, or a do-it-yourself remedy using items you probably already have.


In a professional bleaching, you make an appointment with a dental professional and go in to the office for your treatment. Appointments can last anywhere from 30-90 minutes and it often takes multiple appointments to complete the process. Bleaching is usually done by laser treatment, in which a bleaching gel is applied to teeth and then a laser is used to activate the gel. Professional bleachings typically cost anywhere between $500-$1000.

Store-bought Kit

There are many different types of kits to purchase and perform at home. These include:

  • Strips: A mouth-sized strip coated in a bleaching agent that’s applied to teeth and left on, usually for about 30 minutes. Strips typically need to be applied every day until desired results are achieved; usually around 14 days.
  • Gels: Gels typically come in a bottle with an applicator used to brush on your teeth. Gels work similar to strips, except that there is no plastic strip covering the gel.
  • Trays: Trays are typically considered to be the most effective at-home treatment. A bleaching agent is inside of trays that can be fitted around your teeth. They are usually left on for about 15-20 minutes, and then the procedure is repeated one to two more times.

Store bought kits are cheaper than professional cleanings, and prices vary depending on the type you use. Gels are usually the cheapest, with prices starting around $10. Strips tend to be anywhere from about $30-$60, and trays are the priciest, ranging from $80 to $300.

DIY Remedies

If you want a whiter smile, but can’t afford the price of a professional or store-bought fix, there are some products that you can try that you probably already have in your home. These don’t work as well as store-bought or professional treatments, but are great for touch-ups and cost little to nothing at all. Keep reading to find out what common household items may help you whiten your teeth.

Pros and Cons

Before you decide whether to do your own treatment at home or pay for a professional whitening,  you will want to consider the pros and cons of each one. They are listed below:



  • Lower risk in the procedure
  • More effective than home treatments
  • Dentist can take individual needs into consideration


  • High cost
  • Not usually covered by insurance or discount plans
  • Have to work around dentist’s schedule and go in for multiple appointments

Home (Store-bought and DIY)


  • Lower cost
  • More convenient, because it can be done on your own time and you can accomplish things during the treatment


  • Higher risk of misusing the product
  • Less effective than a professional treatment

Top Home Products

If you want to try a store-bought product, try one of these rated best by Top Consumer Reviews.

  1. Pro White Teeth (trays). $80-$130.
  2. Teeth Whitening Express (trays). $90-$325.
  3. Supersmile (various dental hygiene products). $50.
  4. Crest WhiteStrips 3D (strips). $35.
  5. Go Smile (gel). $89.

Home Remedies

If you want to save some money and make your own treatment, consider using one of the recipes below.

  • Strawberries and baking soda. Mash up one strawberry in a bowl, and mix in a teaspoon of baking soda.  Apply onto teeth and leave on for about ten minutes. Rinse off.
  • Baking soda, toothpaste, and hydrogen peroxide. Squeeze a small amount of toothpaste into a bowl, and add a dash of baking soda and a swish of peroxide. Mix together, and use normally as toothpaste.
  • Baking soda and lemon juice. Take the juice from a fresh squeezed lemon and mix it with a small amount of baking soda. Brush onto your teeth and leave on for 5-10 minutes. Rinse off.

Baking soda, citric juice, and hydrogen peroxide all contain bleaching power, but they can be damaging to enamel if exposure is prolonged. Be sure not to keep any remedy on for more than about 15 minutes, and brush your teeth after rinsing off.

Whitening Toothpaste

Another option for whitening is purchasing whitening toothpaste. Many people wonder, however, does whitening toothpaste really work? Whitening toothpaste is often expected to have the same effects as a store-bought or professional treatment, but really, the only difference between whitening and regular toothpaste is that whitening toothpaste is slightly more abrasive. Because of this, whitening toothpaste is most effective in removing surface stains, such as those caused by smoking or drinking coffee. It typically takes several weeks to notice a difference.

If you want to use a whitening toothpaste to help remove some surface stains, consider using one from Dentistry.net’s top five:

  1. Arm and Hammer Extra Whitening toothpaste
  2. Rembrandt Premium Whitening toothpaste
  3. Opalescence Whitening toothpaste
  4. Crest 3D White Advance toothpaste
  5. Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening toothpaste

Most whitening toothpastes are safe; however, some may be harmful to your teeth. To ensure that the toothpaste you are using is safe, look for one with the ADA Seal of Approval.

Whitening your teeth is a great way to improve your smile and overall appearance. Unfortunately, many store-bought products and home remedies are often misused and could end up damaging your oral health. No matter which method you choose to achieve a whiter smile, be sure to talk to your dentist first about the safest options.