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There are three main options for teeth whitening at home: toothpastes, strips, and light devices. Pastes offer minimal whitening results, due to low levels of bleaching ingredients, whereas strips and light devices provide more dramatic results since the whitening ingredients make full contact with teeth for longer periods of time.

• Whitening toothpastes: Whitening pastes typically contain mild abrasives like hydrated silica, sodium bicarbonate, and calcium carbonate to polish and remove surface stains and/or low concentrations of active hydrogen peroxide to bleach teeth. “Most conventional whitening toothpastes largely work by using an abrasive called silica to mechanically scrape stains off of teeth, hence the ‘whitened’ result, not by actual bleaching,” explains Dr. Justin Rashbaum, DMD at Supersmile. Look for pastes that contain peroxide if you want real results. You can expect to see visible effects after five or more days of twice-daily use.

• Whitening strips and trays: A plastic strip, tray, or mold is used to apply the bleaching ingredient hydrogen peroxide directly to teeth. Each session lasts 30 minutes to two hours, and you’ll need up to three weeks of repeated use for full results. If you want to make your teeth white fast, strips are one of the most effective OTC teeth whiteners, as the active ingredient is left on teeth for an extended period of time.

• Whitening light devices: A whitening agent is directly applied to teeth; then a blue LED light is held over them to increase penetration and accelerate results. Like teeth whitening strips, light devices are very effective because of the amount of time the active ingredient makes full contact with your teeth.

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