Tis the season for celebration! You will be celebrating the much-awaited winter break with your family and friends. But looking in the mirror, you are quite self-conscious of your smile! Why is that so? Well, that’s because your teeth are stained. Drinking lots of coffee and tea during work has led to this. So what should you do now? Probably run off to your nearby grocery store to look for OTC teeth whitening products.

But will they work? Of course, they do!

There are a variety of products to choose from and we’ll help you out select the one you need.

Keep reading this article to know what is best to get rid of your stains quickly.

floss string showing that plaque accumulates yellowing teeth if you don't floss

Why Do You Need Whitening?

Your teeth cannot stay pearly white if your day-to-day consumption of stained foods and drinks is excessive.

Moreover, as you age, your enamel wears off due to the action of chewing and biting.

Underneath the enamel, there is the dentin.

The dentin turns darker with age.

Once, the enamel wears off, the dentin starts to show and your teeth look yellower.

However, it is not the only reason why you have yellow teeth.

Drinking coffee, tea, red wine and eating berries, using dressings like balsamic vinegar and soy sauce- all are stained food products.

Coffee and tea contain tannins that can stick to your teeth, staining them.

The darkly stained foods and sauces can do the same.

What’s more, if you smoke, that leaves a dark yellow and brown stain on your teeth as well.

Other than that, if you have poor oral hygiene then tartar will start building up on your teeth.

Not brushing and flossing properly accumulates plaque and that hardens to tartar that only your dentist can remove.

Dark stains accumulate onto your teeth, as a result.

However, these are only the extrinsic stains that can easily go away through teeth cleaning or using whitening products.

Some stains are intrinsic and you need your dentist’s approval before whitening them.

An injury can cause a single tooth to darken.

Certain illnesses, medication and treatments such as chemotherapy, can also discolor them beyond the surface of your teeth.

It is harder for a teeth whitening kit to work on these stains therefore, going to the dentist for an in-office teeth whitening procedure is the best option.

If your self-esteem is dropping and you find yourself not smiling properly then you need whitening to laugh to your heart’s content.

Do not hide your smile and start with the appropriate treatment.

pen for light stains

Teeth Whitening Products for Light Stains

Not all stains are equal.

If you just have slightly yellow teeth because of drinking coffee and tea excessively then you can easily remove them.

Or can temporarily hide them.

The products that can come in handy for that include:

Teeth Whitening Toothpaste 

Whitening toothpaste can contain bleaching agents or abrasives.

The abrasives help to remove the surface stains.

Remember to only get a toothpaste with mild abrasives as these can be harsh on your teeth and can erode the enamel that will further show the yellow dentin.

The bleaching agents can work to actually lighten your teeth and go a little beyond the enamel.

They can whiten up your teeth to one shade.

However, toothpaste with abrasives is more common.

Beware of ingredients such as charcoal, which can, in fact, erode the enamel rather than provide whitening.

Brush your teeth with the toothpaste twice a day for two to six weeks to see any change.

Brush normally twice a day to remove the light stains that cover your pearly whites.


A teeth whitening pen is also for light stains.

However, it works to cover stains and make them lighter.

This product is specially designed to be used on the go for a quick fix.

Whenever you are running late but notice some yellowness then you can quickly twist the pen, release the gel and brush it on your tooth.

Though, it is best to cover all the teeth together.

Once you start applying it, you will notice the results quickly as it works immediately.

The gel will start to whiten your teeth over time.

That said, the pen will only work on slightly yellow teeth rather than brown or heavily stained.

For that, you will have to look into other products.

Let’s find out below!

teeth whitening products strips

Teeth Whitening Products for Darker Stains


Teeth Whitening strips go directly onto your teeth containing a gel that usually has the active ingredient.

In most, OTC products, the active ingredient is carbamide peroxide around a concentration of 10 to 20 percent.

However, if it does not produce any result then you can go for products containing hydrogen peroxide or a higher concentration of carbamide peroxide.

That said, going for a safe amount of carbamide peroxide is usually safer for your teeth and makes them less prone to sensitivity.

Cut the strips to fit the shape of your teeth and then wear them for the allotted time.

The gel with the bleaching agent can penetrate deeper than the enamel to whiten some intrinsic stains however, they will work best on extrinsic ones.

Use it for 10 to 14 days by following the instructions.

You will see a visible change immediately, however, still complete the full course in order for the results to last.

The whiteness can remain for up to 4 months if used properly.

Though, remember to not overuse them as it could cause sensitivity.


A whitening gel is the core product in strips, mouth trays and pens.

It contains the active ingredient and dentists use it in dental whitening procedures too.

Though, you can also simply apply the gel directly to your teeth without it being in another product.

Stand in front of a mirror and use a small brush to do apply it directly onto the stains.

You may have to repeat it twice a day.

While there will be improvement initially, keep going for 10 to 14 days.

This way the results can last up to as long as 4 months.

However, beware of applying the gel to your gums.

This can harm them and cause sensitivity.

teeth whitening products mouthguard

Additional Products to Use

Mouthguard for Heavily Stained Teeth 

If your teeth are heavily stained, then you want them to be in direct contact with the gel containing the active ingredient.

The best way to do that is to use a custom-made Mouthguard or mouth tray.

While these are also available OTC, they will not be a perfect fit leading to leakage that can harm the gums and uneven whitening.

Hence, go to your dentist to get a custom-fit mouth tray.

Pour a drop of gel into the mouth tray and let it cover the tray on its own.

Wear the trays on your upper and lower teeth for the number of hours recommended by your dentist.

Some trays also contain a special LED blue light that activates the peroxide base to lift the stains.

Use it for 4 weeks or more if needed.

This method along with strips is usually better among OTC products for whitening because they cover all teeth evenly.

You do not have to rely on yourself to evenly apply the product rather the custom fit- will take care of uniform whitening across all teeth.


One additional product to add to your routine is a rinse.

Rinses catering to discoloration and staining contain hydrogen peroxide.

That can help whiten your teeth a little but the wait is longer.

You may see results after 12 weeks of use.

This is because your teeth are not directly in contact with the rinse and that too for a small amount of time.

You need to rinse your teeth with the mouthwash by thoroughly swishing it around for one minute twice a day.

Hence, a total of two minutes are much less compared to 30 minutes.

Though, you can use it as an additional product since it works but still slowly.

home remedies charcoal and baking soda

Tips While Applying

Whether you want to use whitening products or not is entirely up to you.

However, you should keep in mind certain precautions before you proceed and tips while using it.


  • Don’t use them if you have sensitive teeth – the bleaching agent can increase sensitivity
  • Have fillings, crowns or veneers
  • Are under 13
  • Are pregnant
  • Previous dental restorations
  • Have extremely dark teeth or one particular stained tooth

If you have any of these conditions, ask your dentist before proceeding.

Children under 13 cannot get whitening as they still do not have all adult teeth.

Plus pregnant women should definitely consult their doctor before getting it or better wait till delivery to have it later.

Tips after whitening

  • Do not eat or drink foods and beverages that can stain teeth
  • Carefully apply the products so that they do not leak and harm the gums
  • Do not overdo anything rather, only use it for the set time in instructions
  • Do not use charcoal whitening or other strong abrasives
  • Take a break if your teeth start to become very sensitive

If your teeth will do not benefit from OTC whitening then go for zoom or laser dental whitening instead.

A dentist can carefully apply the gel without harming your gums and use products that will work quickly and won’t be as sensitive.

That said,

Teeth whitening products are still a good start.

They can brighten up your teeth to a good extent so that you can start smiling with friends and family this winter break without worrying about the color of your teeth.