Teeth Whitening


Q. What are some teeth whitening options that you recommend?

In short, I recommend three options.

Professional, in-office whitening

This procedure is done in the dental office setting and many offices offer it. You simply go to your dentist, sit in the chair for about 2 hours, and walk out with your teeth about 2 shades whiter. This procedure is painless and usually involves a special blue light shined onto your teeth. It is important to realize that if you do nothing to maintain your new color, you will typically rebound (go back to your original tooth color) in about 5 to 7 years.

At home whitening

In my opinion, this is the best and most effective way to whiten your teeth. First, schedule an appointment with your dentist to get fitted for a set of mouthguard-like trays. You fill these trays up at home and wear them for one hour a day for 10 days to two weeks. You can achieve 3 and in rare cases 4 shade of improvement in whiteness. You can purchase the gel at the dental office or drug store refill tubes of gel to refresh your teeth months or years later, if needed. Keep your trays! I usually recommend a charcoal toothpaste to keep them white indefinitely. Charcoal does an excellent job of maintaining color and preventing the teeth from rebounding back to their original color.

All-natural whitening.

This is usually done with activated charcoal found in the all-natural toothpastes (more on charcoal here). You may only get one shade of improvement with this method, but charcoal is what I always recommend for maintenance. If you whiten your teeth conventionally and want to KEEP them white, use charcoal toothpaste once a week. This will keep those pearlies white naturally, without all the side effects that come with the use of conventional bleaching chemicals.

Whitening Strips

Over the counter products provide a cheaper alternative to dental office visits, but the results are only average in comparison. Rather than purchase a kit with trays that usually do not fit, I would recommend Crest White Strips for a more affordable alternative.

First of all, do not confuse activated charcoal with those little briquettes you use to cook burgers and steaks.  Also, it should not be confused with coal which is a petroleum product.  Activated charcoal is completely different.  It is used in a wide variety of cosmetic, health, and medical products.  It can also be used as a water filter, and, interestingly, it can be completely ingested by humans to be used as poison antidote. (The activated charcoal is very, very absorbent, so poison molecules are absorbed into the charcoal and rendered neutral, so that the human body cannot absorb them.)

How is it made?

Step one in creating activated charcoal is the heating of plain wood (sometimes coconut shells and bamboo are used too).  The material is heated up to high temps in special ovens of flues, so as to remove water and reduce the wood to mostly carbon.  The material is further treated with certain gases and steam to produce the final product, activated charcoal which is a light, very absorbent black powder.  

Why does it work?

The significant property of activated charcoal is its porous quality and huge surface area.  Just one ounce of material has more surface area than 20 acres of land! Activated charcoal is like a super-sponge; it readily absorbs many materials including tannins which are those nagging chemicals in coffee and tea that stain your teeth so badly.  It is so new to the dental field that no comparative studies are out yet measuring its effectiveness at whitening teeth.  Many individuals swear by it and are touting its effectiveness, however, and pictures of actual cases are prevalent on social media outlets and the internet.