The Best Ways to Whiten Your Teeth This Summer

By Mike Wong May 22, 2018

Looking your best is a high priority for the summer and that includes having white teeth. But before you buy those whitening strips to make your teeth as bright and lustrous as they can be, check out these facts.

Summer-white teeth

There are a gazillion lightening systems available that promise whiter pearly whites. From toothpastes and mouthwashes to whitening pens and strips to custom trays—the possibilities are endless. Here’s a rundown of your teeth whitening options:

In-practice procedure

In-office whitening treatments involve a high percentage of hydrogen peroxide that works in a short period of time. The procedure is needed only once a year. The gums need to be covered with a safety barrier while the solution is applied to the teeth. Lighter teeth can be achieved in as little as 50 minutes at most dental practices.

Custom trays

Custom trays are made at your dental office from impressions of both your upper and lower teeth. A lightening solution is prescribed for you so you can use the trays at home at your convenience. Desired brightness is typically achieved within a seven- to 10-day period.


Dental lasers are capable of making your teeth six to 12 shades lighter with less than 20 minutes of gel-to-tooth contact time. Laser energy interacts with chromophores in the proprietary laser-activated gel to accelerate the in-practice treatment.

Over-the-counter strips

Teeth can become very sensitive with prolonged use of over-the-counter whitening methods. The hydrogen peroxide concentration is not as high as it is in professional materials, so it takes longer to lighten teeth. In addition, the effects of strips are temporary. 

Lightening dentifrices

Whitening toothpastes and mouthwashes are the least effective. Pastes and rinses remove some surface stains, but they can’t improve stains embedded in the natural tooth surface. They can also cause gum and tooth sensitivity with prolonged use. 

Activated charcoal

No long-term studies have shown that activated charcoal has any measurable dental hygiene-related benefits, including whitening. The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) recently published a study revealing there is no evidence of its safety or effectiveness. The so-called “toxin-binding” properties of charcoal can be too abrasive for your teeth and can wear down the protective enamel layer.

Before you select a procedure that’s right for you, consider that whitening is intended for natural tooth enamel only—not veneers, crowns or bonded restorations. While there are thousands of retail products available, none can achieve the results and immediate impact of in-practice treatment. The American Dental Association recommends that if you choose to use a bleaching product, you should only do so after consultation with a dentist.