What Is the Best Way to Whiten My Teeth?

The best way to whiten teeth safely and where you'll get the most permanent color change is with custom-made trays.

by Dr. Burhenne

What Is the Best Way to Whiten My Teeth?

What’s the best way to Whiten Teeth? In-office whitening seems to be the most expensive, but does that mean it’s the best? You can’t expect immediate results when you want to whiten your teeth. The best, most effective way to whiten your teeth is to do it slowly.

Think of it this way: It’s like baking cookies. Baking cookies require putting them in the oven at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.

If you wanted your cookies done faster, you can’t double the temperature and halve their baking time and expect the same results.

For the same reason, the best way to whiten your teeth is at a “lower temp” (or lower concentration of whitening gel) over a longer period of time.

This results in a deeper penetration of the tooth and a more permanent color change.

This is because the higher concentration in-office whitening gels tend to dehydrate the tooth, causing a rebound effect (tendency to return to the original color) after about a week. Dehydration is much less likely to happen when you whiten with custom-made trays since the whitening gel isn’t so concentrated.

In-office whitening might have its place, especially when you need to whiten your teeth in a hurry, but if you have the time, custom whitening trays from your dentist are the way to go because they will be the most effective in the long run, as well as the safest way to whiten.

The best way to whiten teeth is with a lower-strength gel over several weeks. When using custom whitening trays, the teeth are exposed to a less concentrated whitening gel (only 10 to 20%), but for a much longer period of time (one to eight hours every day for several weeks).

With in-office whitening, the teeth are exposed to a stronger strength gel (30% to 35% solution of carbamide peroxide), but for a very short period (about an hour).

Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to whitening your teeth!

These are a few more advantages to getting custom-made whitening trays:

Most Cost-effective

Once in the system, always in the system. With custom whitening trays, you are buying into a system to whiten your teeth for life. While it is true that the whitening effect is permanent, your teeth will continue to yellow simply because of that?s what happens as we age. To maintain the effect, you will have to spend a few hours every five years whitening with your custom trays.

The cost of this is only the cost of a few syringes of gel ($25 each) as opposed to going back to your dentist for another round of in-office whitening at the usual cost ($300 to $900). Custom trays will cost you $300 to $400 and will allow you to continue whitening your teeth at home without ever having to step into the office.

Safest for the Gums

Custom trays allow you to hold the gel intimately against the teeth and away from the gums. If properly done, the gums will not make contact with the whitening gel as they do with whitening strips. Free radical reactions can occur when the whitening gel comes into contact with the gums, damaging them.

Best Whitening Results

Whitening strips work the same way as custom trays, but have a major drawback: they can’t curve with the teeth and reach those in-between spots where each tooth meets the other tooth.

Whitening strips can make a good budget alternative, but be aware that you might get uneven results where the center of each tooth is whiter than the sides. Also, make sure the strips never touch your gums, since this will damage them.

Mark Burhenne DDS

Juggling all the pieces of your health is hard...

But I can definitely help with what's going on in your mouth. Leave your email address below, and I'll share 7 Insider Secrets that your dentist probably isn't telling you—and that could be keeping you from optimal oral and dental health.

Dr. Mark Burhenne DDS


Leave a Comment

  1. This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that using custom trays from your dentist is the safest option for whitening your teeth. My teeth have slowly become more yellow, and it’s to the point where I’m self-conscious about my smile. I’ve been wanting to have them whitened, so I’ll definitely look into asking my dentist about using custom trays. Thanks for the great post!

  2. Haha custom trays, if that’s not the biggest scam out there idk what it. Please tell me again what tf is the point of them? Any shaped tray will still allow the gel to touch every surface of your teeth, all a custom tray does is make the dentist some extra cash.

    • Ryan: I wish that was the case, as I would be happy if everyone could whiten on their own with self made trays (sometimes called boil and bite trays). It’s true that these self made trays can pretty much whiten as well as a custom made tray. However, the gums take a beating since the tray does not discriminate between holding gel on the tooth and on the gum. Also, some home systems have gel that is too strong and/or of low quality and contain questionable ingredients. It’s better to have your dentist pick these materials and make you your trays. The real crime is when the dentist overcharges for this procedure. Look for a fee of less than $350 dollars. Trust me, you don’t want to “bleach” your gums!


  3. Hello ,
    I do not have insurance. What natural home remedies would u recommend to whiten my teeth gradually besides the standard twice a day brushing . Nothing seems to work and my teeth are extremely yellow.

  4. I’m looking for a way to whiten my teeth. The most effective I’ve looked at so far seems to be kind of like this, but it has light activated gel to put into the trays, and a little light that you just put in the front of your mouth. Would the light harm my teeth, and could I just use the gel for a longer amount of time for the same results, but making it healthier for my teeth?

Leave a Reply

Send this to a friend

Facebook icon Twitter icon Instagram icon Pinterest icon Google+ icon YouTube icon LinkedIn icon Contact icon