Over-the-counter tooth whitening products


I have tried everything on the market, including a process that my dentist used several years ago, and nothing has whitened my teeth. The teeth are not stained but I would like to get rid of the yellowish look and have brighter teeth. Are there some whose teeth just won’t whiten no matter what?

—Shirley from Delaware


It can be discouraging when there are so many claims out there for teeth whitening, and you want to believe them. You need a real cosmetic dentist. Yellow teeth are usually very easy to whiten, but not with over-the-counter products.

The over-the-counter products for whitening teeth simply don’t work, and some of them even damage the teeth. One over-the-counter teeth whitening product that we tested in my office whitened the teeth temporarily, but actually left the teeth darker over the long term. The whitening product has to be strong and it has to have time to soak into the teeth, and you have to do it over and over again. It’s not safe to sell the really effective treatments over-the-counter.

The toothpaste counter is filled with claims of whitening toothpaste. There is a certain amount of truth to this claim, but you need to understand what to expect with any toothpaste. Visit our page on whitening toothpaste for more information.

Unfortunately, Delaware is one of those states where so far we’ve tried to find a cosmetic dentist we could recommend and we’ve not succeeded. But find someone on our list from either Pennsylvania or Maryland, hopefully within a few hours’ drive, and go visit them. As badly as you seem to want white teeth, it should be worth the drive to you. You’ll be amazed at what a real cosmetic dentist can do. They just don’t teach cosmetic dentistry in dental school—you have so many dentists claiming to be cosmetic dentists but I bet that fewer than one in fifty really is qualified to do real cosmetic dentistry.

Good luck. Let me know how it turns out.

—Dr. Hall

I received this reply from Shirley:

Thank you so much. And I will do as you suggested.


Further information:

  • For information about Crest Whitestrips, which can whiten your teeth a little, click here.
  • For referral to an expert cosmetic dentist, click here.
  • To read Dr. Hall’s answers to hundreds of questions, you may want to check out our blog.
  • If you have a question for Dr. Hall, click here.

This content was written by Dr. David Hall.