Each year, Americans spend roughly $11 billion on teeth whitening and over $1.4 billion on at-home whitening products. It should be no surprise that an attractive smile is important to a lot of people for a variety of reasons. For example, 96% of adults believe an attractive smile makes you more appealing to the opposite sex and 74% believe an unattractive smile can hurt your chances for success in your career. Whatever your reasons, we all know that yellowed or stained teeth can get in the way of achieving the stellar smile that everyone is chasing after. As a result, there is an overwhelming number of products, methods, and teeth whitening solutions out there. So a seemingly simple question — “How do I whiten my teeth?” — may result in an overwhelming number of supposed answers. We can help simplify. The truth is, the teeth whitening process can be affected by a variety of factors. But the good news? You don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money on in-office dental procedures or veneers. Here are some easy and affordable things you can do to help maximize the teeth whitening process and your smile.

1. Take Care of Your Teeth and Gums

You’re probably tired of being told how important it is to brush your teeth, floss, and make regular dental appointments, but teeth whitening solutions won’t do you much good if you neglect your oral health on a basic level. The teeth whitening process is significantly more difficult to start and maintain when you’re dealing with plaque buildup, gingivitis, or possibly other underlying diseases. So make sure you’re brushing and flossing daily and visiting your dentist at least twice a year. Healthier teeth and gums will not only maximize teeth whitening solutions but also help you achieve a sparkling smile faster and with less effort.

2. Watch What You Eat and Drink

You can greatly improve teeth whitening solutions' effectiveness and longevity by reducing or eliminating known stain-causing foods and drinks.

Here are some common foods and drinks you’ll want to avoid:

  • Coffee
  • Red and white wine
  • Soda
  • Green and black tea
  • Candy and other high-sugar treats
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Marinara
  • Curry
  • Turmeric
  • Paprika
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Balsamic vinegar
These foods and drinks will cause or contribute to extrinsic stains that can make the teeth whitening process slow and difficult to maintain long-term.

If you can’t live without one of these stain-causers, you may be tempted to compromise by brushing your teeth immediately after drinking a cup of coffee or eating a sugary snack. You actually want to avoid this practice! When you eat or drink anything, the acidity level in your mouth increases, temporarily softening your enamels. So brushing your teeth less than an hour after eating or drinking can scrub away layers of enamel when it’s at its weakest state.

Instead, rinse your mouth with water shortly after consuming any of the foods or drinks listed above to wash away any leftover stain-causing residues.

You can also focus on eating a handful of foods that naturally fight stains and promote overall oral health.

Try eating these foods more often to further the teeth whitening process:

  • Apples
  • Dairy (cheese, milk, and yogurt)
  • Nuts
  • Celery
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Raw onions
  • Strawberries
  • Pineapple

3. Use Whitening or Stain-Removing Toothpastes

If you aren’t ready to commit to a more aggressive teeth whitening solution, choose a toothpaste containing natural or chemical bleaching agents that will reduce yellowing and slowly remove dark spots.

Look for commercial toothpaste with the following active ingredients:

  • Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda)
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Hydrated Silica
  • Potassium Nitrate
  • Sodium Monofluorophosphate (Fluoride)
  • Sodium Tripolyphosphate
  • Polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP)
Teeth whitening toothpaste can increase tooth sensitivity, so be sure to consult your dentist before using a stain-removing toothpaste, especially for those commercial toothpaste with more harsh polishers and abrasives.

Here are the top five whitening toothpaste you may want to consider as part of the teeth whitening process:

  1. Crest 3D White Luxe Glamorous White Vibrant Whitening Toothpaste
  2. Opalescence Whitening Toothpaste
  3. Tom’s of Maine Antiplaque and Whitening Fluoride-Free Toothpaste
  4. Natural Whitening Tooth & Gum Powder with Activated Charcoal
  5. Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening Toothpaste
Using a whitening toothpaste will not give you immediate results or even completely eliminate evidence of yellowing and stains on your teeth, but it’ll help. It may take a few months of use before you even start to see any noticeable change in the color of your teeth.

4. Try Whitening Strips

Whitening strips are an easy, affordable solution that is very effective over a short period of time. In as little as a week, you will notice reduced yellowing and the removal of extrinsic stains on your teeth. Compared to stain-removing toothpastes, whitening strips provide better, faster results because they use more abrasive chemicals such as peroxides and bleaches. Whitening strips are a popular choice for those who are on a budget and want a winning smile a week or two before a wedding, first date, job interview, or an important business event. Whitening strips, however, are not a perfect teeth whitening solution. First of all, the abrasive chemicals can start to damage your teeth and gums if you leave the strips on for too long. Moreover, whitening strips won’t take care of yellowing or stains that are near your gum line and in between your teeth. If you need a quick, inexpensive fix, whitening strips may do the trick. But you’ll want to consider more effective teeth whitening solutions if you’re interested in better, long-term results.

5. Whitening Gel Kits

Offering a more thorough solution to removing stains and discoloration, whitening gel is squeezed into a jaw-shaped whitening tray or clear retainer and then affixed to your teeth for a specified period of time. The benefit of using whitening gel with a custom clear retainer is that every nook and cranny of your teeth get whitened. Formulated for ideal effectiveness under OSHA guidelines and produced in an FDA registered facility, Retainers Direct whitening gel kits are designed to be used with our clear retainers. Depending on your tooth sensitivity, you can get Retainers Direct whitening gel in two strengths: 15% or 35%. These teeth whitening solutions are the same products used in orthodontists’ offices, but they’re available to you for at-home use. Regardless of which strength of whitening gel you choose, you should always make sure to follow up each session by using our desensitizing gel. Whitening your teeth in general increases the risk of tooth sensitivity. To combat this potential problem, apply our desensitizing gel to your clear retainer and wear it for 15-20 minutes. Remove the tray and go to sleep with the desensitizing gel on your teeth. This product will help keep your teeth strong and prevent sensitivity from becoming a problem due to the teeth whitening process. This step makes whitening gel the best way to see immediate, thorough results without running the risk of tooth sensitivity. To learn more about teeth whitening solutions, call or contact Retainers Direct! We’ll help you get real results that will make you feel confident in your smile.