We asked a dental hygienist for her top teeth whitening tips

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With so many teeth whitening products available, it can be hard to pick one that actually works.
With so many teeth whitening products available, it can be hard to pick one that actually works. (Sephora and Crest)

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Coffee, tea and red wine are some of our favourite things, but they are also known to stain our teeth. There are so many options available to us now for at-home teeth whitening, but how do we know what to choose?

Marcy Skribe, registered dental hygienist and founder of Campus Dental, tells Yahoo Lifestyle Canada that the most important thing to remember is that whatever you choose, it is going in your mouth, which in turn, can be absorbed into tissues or even, in small amounts, can be swallowed. She says that consumers should know what they're using before they put it in their bodies.

One thing Skribe says to look out for is the percentage of hydrogen peroxide used in the products.

"Most of today’s whitening products use hydrogen peroxide to whiten due to its ability to give results in a short period of time. However, the percentage makes a difference. And the most effective percentage for best results that last at least one year before touch-ups can only be found with your dental professional."

In her experience in clinical practice for more than 20 years, Skribe says she has never seen a client require a touch-up more frequently than once a year when having used a professional whitening system.

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There are a lot of other options available to help whiten teeth, but Skribe says it is still important to seek the advice of a dental professional before you start any teeth whitening.

"This doesn’t mean you have to buy it from them. As a dental professional myself, I understand that clients are always looking for the best deal and that they have access to pretty much anything online," she said. "But as most of us know, just because it is available online doesn’t mean it’s safe or effective. I am always grateful when clients ask about different products, especially when it comes to health and safety."

Skribe gave us some dos and don'ts when it comes to teeth whitening. She suggests following the manufacturer’s instructions.

"Leaving gel on longer than indicated will not improve the result but can cause more teeth and gum sensitivity," she warned.

She also suggests practicing good oral hygiene during whitening.

"Whitening gel will not penetrate plaque," Skribe added. Skribe says to stay away from any dark food or drinks while whitening, such as coffee, tea, red wine and dark berries. But if you must have, she says to ensure you brush and rinse well right after.

When it comes to her don'ts, Skribe says not to get caught up in gimmicky products.

"Charcoal is the latest trend. Social influencers on Instagram make it look fantastic, but charcoal is only effective for surface stains and should not be used regularly," Skribe said. "The actual shade of your teeth can only be lightened with whitening products."

Skribe warns that abrasive products like baking soda, lemon juice, charcoal should only be used in moderation and only for removing surface stains. "These products can actually strip layers enamel, creating long-term sensitivity if used incorrectly."

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Skribe adds that teeth sensitivity is not uncommon during the whitening process.

"It is often recommended to use a sensitivity toothpaste throughout your whitening process. If it persists, take a break from whitening for 24 hours. For optimal results, it is best to do your whitening treatments on consecutive days; however, with sensitivity, you can often take one day off with little impact on the end result," she said.

With so many teeth whitening products available, we've rounded up 6 of the best options to help you brighten your smile.

Colgate Optic White Renewal Teeth Whitening Toothpaste

Colgate Optic White Renewal Teeth Whitening Toothpaste - Shoppers Drug Mart, $7
Colgate Optic White Renewal Teeth Whitening Toothpaste - Shoppers Drug Mart, $7 (Shoppers Drug Mart)

This teeth whitening toothpaste from Colgate contains 3 per cent hydrogen peroxide formula that removes 10 years of stains while being safe for enamel. The fluoride toothpaste formula also helps to prevent cavities. You can expect to see results after brushing twice daily for four weeks.

SHOP IT: Shoppers Drug Mart, $7

Crest Whitening Emulsions with Wand Applicator

Crest Whitening Emulsions with Wand Applicator -, $60
Crest Whitening Emulsions with Wand Applicator -, $60 (

The Crest Whitening Emulsions come in two varieties that feature a built-in applicator for on-the-go application and a wand applicator. It starts working instantly to deliver whiter teeth with almost no sensitivity. The product can be applied in seconds throughout the day and absorbs quickly–swipe and go.

Sherrie Kinderdine, a beauty expert, P&G senior scientist and member of the R&D team for the Emulsions, told Yahoo Lifestyle Canada that the magic behind Crest Whitening Emulsions is they’ve found a way to deliver highly active hydrogen peroxide from a water-resistant base, so you can apply and go without having to rinse or remove.

SHOP IT: Walmart, $60

Snow All-In-One Teeth Whitening Kit

Snow All-In-One Teeth Whitening Kit - Bed, Bath & Beyond, $130
Snow All-In-One Teeth Whitening Kit - Bed, Bath & Beyond, $130 (Bed, Bath & Beyond)

The Snow All-In-One Teeth Whitening Kit has an enamel-safe formula that helps to provide longer-lasting results. This kit includes 1 LED activating Mouthpiece, 3 silver whitening wands, 1 gold max strength wand, a shade guide and an instruction manual. It comes with 75 treatments and had a 5-year warranty.

"It is easy to use. Just put the serum on your teeth. Plug in the LED light to your phone and place the led mouthpiece in your mouth. You an see a whitening of the teeth after the first try. Impressive," one happy customer wrote in their review.

SHOP IT: Bed, Bath & Beyond, $130 (originally $150)

GLO Lit™ At-Home Teeth Whitening Device Kit

GLO Lit At-Home Teeth Whitening Device Kit - Sephora, $176
GLO Lit At-Home Teeth Whitening Device Kit - Sephora, $176 (Sephora)

The GLO Lit At-Home Teeth Whitening Device Kit uses heat and light technology for faster results. Use this device for eight minutes at a time to help whiten your teeth up to five shades or more. It also connects wirelessly to the GLO Whitening App so you can schedule your treatments, get reminders and track your progress.

The kit includes a GLO Heat and LED light whitening mouthpiece, mouthpiece storage case, Bluetooth-enabled, USB, rechargeable power pack with hands-free lanyard and garment clip, 7 x 2.95 mL teeth whitening gel GLO vials, 8 mL GLO lip balm and treatment, travel pouch, user manual and shade guide.

SHOP IT: Sephora, $176 (originally $195)

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hismile Teeth Whitening Kit

Teeth Whitening Kit - hismile, $169
Teeth Whitening Kit - hismile, $169 (hismile)

This PAP+ Teeth Whitening Kit is will provide instant whitening results in just one 10-minute treatment. The kit includes six individual whitening treatments and it has a peroxide-free formula that’s sensitivity-free.

To begin using the kit, twist off the cap, and apply half of the pod to the top of the mouth tray and the other half to the bottom. Turn on the LED device by pressing the button and place it in your mouth. Leave it in until it automatically powers off after 10 minutes. Rinse mouth thoroughly with water after you're done.

SHOP IT: hismile, $169

On The Go Teeth Whitening Pen

On The Go Teeth Whitening Pen - GO SMILE, $24
On The Go Teeth Whitening Pen - GO SMILE, $24 (GO SMILE)

This convenient On the Go Teeth Whitening Pen from GO SMILE is a portable brush pen that easily fits into your pocket or purse. Just twist the dial at the bottom of the pen to release the whitening serum. Brush a thin layer onto your teeth, and the serum will dissolve. It suggested that you don’t eat, drink, or rinse for 20 minutes after applying it.


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