Brighten Your Happy:
10 Affordable Ways to Whiten Your Teeth

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10 affordable ways to whiten your teeth at home

In case y’all didn’t know, I’m borderline obsessive-compulsive about my teeth. I brush them at least 4 times a day, drink almost all liquids through a straw, and have tried every whitening product under the sun. Unfortunately, with this obsession has come painful tooth sensitivity, and I just can’t handle standard whitening strips anymore. A baseball-playing (ie. Tobacco chewing) friend of mine with an exceptionally sparkly smile suggested GO SMiLE for annual touch-up whitening with no alleged exacerbation of sensitivity, and I finally got around to testing it out on my cruise last month.


I had a technician demonstrate how to apply the treatment, as it’s pretty intimidating at first glance. I also endured what looks like a torturous run-in with a UV light for 30 minutes (Sarah really enjoyed this look). Afterwards, I received a box of 14 tiny ampoules (fancy word for clear tubes); one applied in the AM, one in PM for 7 days straight. The little tubes are literally painted on your teeth then need to set for approximately 30 minutes before eating or drinking (ideal for post-breakfast and pre-bedtime). Easy peasy.

Now, I’ll be harsh with this product, since it is $100+, depending on where you choose to purchase and whether or not your initial application is professional. If your teeth are already white, it’s not worth
it. I maybe noticed a slight nuance in the overall brightness of my smile, although as my brother likes to point out… my teeth are already borderline transparent (false). However, if your pearly whites are
even the slightest bit yellow, I’ve seen photos and heard testimonials about amazing results.

Oh, and I will also say that I experienced absolutely NO tooth sensitivity, which was shocking. The powerful formula claims to penetrate enamel to lift stains, restoring whiteness without gum irritation, tooth pain, or sensitivity, and it succeeds 100%. The GO SMiLE formula is gentle, tastes decent, and would be a guaranteed recommendation of mine if it were cheaper. So what other treatments/techniques can you follow that are more cost-effective? Here are ten affordable ways to whiten your teeth at home:

1. Avoid dark liquids.

Just like fabric, dark liquids stain your teeth. Colgate explains, “Pigments from dark-colored drinks such as coffee, tea, and soda can become embedded in those cracks and ridges and, if the proper steps are not taken, can cause permanent, yellowing stains on your teeth…. Giving up coffee, tea, or other tooth-staining beverages is the best way to prevent the staining caused by those drinks, but for most people, this is not an acceptable solution.” So, if you can’t avoid them, drink them through a straw (yes, you actually can drink red wine out of a straw, primarily thanks to Marley Lilly and Swoozies for their monogrammed, acrylic stem-less wine cups) or try to consume coffee/tea/sports drinks at specific break times, rather than sipping constantly throughout the day.

Also, since this was a myth I believed to be true for the entirety of my adult life, know that adding cream to your coffee doesn’t less the blow. Also according to Colgate, “While it may seem that lighter-colored coffee would stain less, the same pigments and acids are present in coffee with cream as black coffee; thus, adding any sort of whitener to your coffee will not prevent your teeth from becoming stained, unless you put significantly less coffee in your cup to make room for the cream.”

2. Brush your teeth.

This sounds obvious, and I certainly hope you are already brushing your teeth at least twice a day. However, you should be brushing after every meal, even lunch. It’s good for personal hygiene– and even better for whitening your teeth. Because my teeth are highly sensitive, I’ve started exclusively using Sensodyne Gentle Whitening Toothpaste, but from past experience, Crest 3D Glamorous White Toothpaste is an effective way to gradually whiten your teeth, too.


3. Always use mouthwash.

Investing in a whitening mouthwash is critical. I’ve been an avid supporter of Crest 3D Glamorous White Multi-Care Whitening Rinse for years, and even after dealing with sporadic spouts of tooth sensitivity from years of an eating disorder, it still keeps my smile white without irritating my gums. Plus, whitening mouthwash is a great way to rid your mouth of germs and whiten simultaneously.

4. Eat strawberries.

Eat strawberries– they’re a delicious natural teeth whitener. How exactly does one whiten their teeth with strawberries? An article by How Stuff Works, featuring info from, says, “You need 1 strawberry and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. Crush the strawberry to a pulp, then mix with the baking soda until blended. Use a soft toothbrush to spread the mixture onto your teeth. Leave on for 5 minutes, then brush thoroughly with toothpaste to remove the berry-baking soda mix. Rinse. (A little floss will help get rid of any strawberry seeds.) [You] can apply once a week.”

5. Love your fruits and veggies.

Snacking on crunchy fruits and vegetables can also help naturally whiten your smile. Crunch, crispy fruits, like aforementioned strawberries, have an abrasiveness that can help to lift stains from enamel and give the illusion that your teeth are whiter. They basically function as an abrasive scrub for teeth. The best foods for naturally whitening your teeth are:

  • broccoli
  • oranges
  • strawberries
  • carrots and celery
  • pineapple
  • raisins
  • apples

6. Floss.

Every time you go to the dentist and your gums start to bleed, you get “have you been flossing?” from your hygienist. No, it’s not just meant to be an obnoxious way of passively criticizing your teeth. Flossing is so important for healthy gums and a brighter smile. An article on WebMD says, “Each tooth has five surfaces. If you don’t floss, you are leaving at least two of the surfaces unclean. Floss is the only thing that can really get into that space between the teeth and remove bacteria.” So, by getting into those tiny crevices and removing bacteria, flossing helps protect against nasty gum diseases, like Gingivitis, which can ruin the youthful aesthetics of your smile by eating away at gums and teeth.

I, for one, hate trying to fit a string of floss plus my entire hand all the way in the back of my mouth, so if you also prefer alternative flossing methods, try Reach Access Flossers. You can find them in virtually any drug store, including Target and Walmart. They’re easy to use, and they get the job done without almost choking yourself.

7. Embolden your lips.

Wear bold lip colors, like my all-time favorite, long-lasting matte red, MAC Ruby Woo! This obviously won’t physically whiten your smile,  but the bold contrast in color will make your smile immediately pop.

8. Lay off the cigs.

Don’t smoke. Ever. Or chew tobacco. Ever. It’s gross, unattractive, and the number one way to ruin your smile, chop years off your life span, and smell bad simultaneously. Replace your cigarettes with a few extra chugs of water, since water can help rinse away destructive acids and stains from the surface of your teeth.

9. Chew the right gum. 

Did you know the dental people make pro-whitening gum? It’s amazing for providing a temporary sparkle. There are all kinds of medical grade gums out there, but I stick with Trident White. It gets the job done, again, temporarily (warning: as soon as you eat or drink anything, the added whiteness will disappear) for under $3 per pack. Unfortunately, whitening gums are a bit misleading in that aspect; however, their ingredients do have very beneficial stain-removing properties. The Frey Smiles Oral Health Network explains, “Whitening gums do not produce the whitening effects we typically think of with tooth whitening, and they won’t really make your teeth whiter. However, they do reduce the formation of certain types of dark staining, the types of dark stains that your dentist usually scratches off with an instrument at appointments. They accomplish this through added abrasives and/or ingredients that make stains easier to rub off while chewing the gum.”

10. Try whitening strips.

This one is touchy for me, since my heightened tooth sensitivity inhibits me from using whitening strips of any kind. However, if your teeth and gums can handle the treatment, drugstore whitening strips can be extremely effective for a fraction of the cost of a professional kit. Most products are under $50 and can be found practically anywhere, including Target, Walmart, Walgreens, etc. Even though I can’t really use them regularly anymore, I depended on Crest 3D White 1-Hour Express Whitestrips and Crest 3D White Professional Effects Whitestrips for years, and I can personally attest to their efficacy, especially when it comes to quickly perfecting your smile for holiday photos

Anybody else have any budget-conscious teeth whitening secrets or experiences to share? My ears are open!



9 thoughts on “Brighten Your Happy:
10 Affordable Ways to Whiten Your Teeth

  1. Ashley Brooke

    All of the whitening products I've tried have been incredibly painful- even the expensive kind from my dentist. Ryan's mom (dental hygienist) said you can mix a little bit of hydrogen peroxide into your toothpaste or just on your toothpaste alone for extra whitening power. Don't quote me on that- I think that's what she said haha. I'll double check!

    1. Stephanie Ziajka

      Hey lady! I've heard that a brand called Supersmile ( is great for bonded teeth//veneers. I've never tried it, but it has some great reviews. Aside from that, I've heard professional dental treatments are the best bet. Hope that helps! Have a fabulous week 🙂



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