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There are a lot of things that can stain your teeth, and most of them are the things we love: coffee, tea, red wine, red tomato sauce, food dyes etc. You might be wondering if some people are more prone to yellow and stained teeth, the answer is yes. There are a lot of factors that can affect how white your teeth looks from a possible long term braces as a kid and even genetics play a role. Though going to your dental office for custom trays is the best method of long term whitening, that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with a less than ideal yellow smile. But how do you know what to choose with all of the at home whitening kits out there and DIY hacks to whiten teeth?

I’m here to tell you what I recommend and caution you before trying one these methods. Some may cause irreversible damage to your teeth and we definitely don’t want that.

So before you Amazon order your new whitening toothpaste or white-strips, I want to teach you how these whitenings work. So you’ll be able to decide for yourself what works best.

How to Choose the Best Type of Teeth-Whitening For You

There are two main types of teeth whitening — chemical and mechanical. The mechanical ways to whiten the teeth work on something called “extrinsic stains”. This means the stain is on the external surface of the tooth and can be abraded away to a degree with a whitening toothpaste. I know you’ve seen the activated charcoal toothpastes and may be wanting to try that. HOLD ON. Some of these pastes are too gritty and can actually wear away your enamel like sandpaper. Yikes right? This will also cause the teeth to appear more yellow and be more sensitive. Definitely not the goal we are hoping to achieve.

Then there’s intrinsic stain. Chemical whitening can help with intrinsic stain this is internal discoloration. Intrinsic discoloration is caused by genetics, trauma, or medication side effects.


Mechanical whitening methods are: abrasive toothpastes.

Chemical whitening methods are: white strips, whitening trays with gel, etc.

How to Avoid Damaging Your Teeth

Whitening toothpastes work by being abrasive and removing the top layer of stain, the extrinsic stain. However, you don’t want to use this all the time as it can wear away your natural tooth structure. You don’t want to use a whitening product that is too abrasive for your teeth —

Dos and Don’ts For Before and After Whitening Your Teeth

Always read the product recommendations and follow specific instructions carefully . Having clean teeth helps these products to be more effective. Brush and floss before starting the process.


Get yourself an electric toothbrush (this will prevent future extrinsic stains from accumulating on the tooth surface and keep your white teeth looking whiter longer)

Rinse with water intermittently as you are drinking coffee, tea, red wine, etc. This will help prevent these foods from staining your teeth. Think of it this way, when you drink coffee from a white mug and leave it in the sink, you will see a coffee stained ring form on the mug. But if you put water in the mug, the stain will never form. Same concept but for your teeth.



Foods that will stain teeth:

  • Red wine

  • Coffee

  • Tea

  • Marinara

  • Balsamic Vinegar

  • Turmeric

  • Curry

  • Soda

Common Mistakes People Make When Whitening Their Teeth at Home

Leaving on whitening strips too long can burn your gums and cause them to turn white. You want to make sure you read the directions carefully of the product you are using.

How Often Do I need to Whiten?

For most people, touching up once every 6 months or so will do the trick. You want to make sure you are not over whitening. Remember Ross from Friends?

What are my options if I want to whiten at the dental office?

Learn a bit more about what makes us your best teeth whitening dentist in San Francisco and request a FREE smile virtual consult with Dr. Morghem to get a personalized treatment plan just for you!