Best Teeth Whitening Options in San Diego: What You Should Know

This article looks at some of the popular DIY and In-Office (professional) teeth whitening options with a carefully curated list of the pros and cons for each.

before and after teeth whitening of a woman’s smile

Let’s face it: everyone has envied a beaming set of pearly whites at some point in their lives. Now, if you are looking for advice on the best teeth whitening in San Diego then you’re at the right place.

Teeth whitening is no small matter for Americans. 37 million Americans used some form of teeth whitener in 2020 only. This also falls in sync with a survey conducted by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. A whopping 90% of participant responses were in favor of a tooth whitening procedure.

Yes, brushing and flossing your teeth every day is very important to keep those pearly whites healthy and bright. But all things considered, there’s a lot going on in the world of cosmetic dentistry.

In this blog, I will stick to shedding the spotlight on the dazzling world of teeth whitening. I’ll help you pick the best teeth whitening in San Diego to bring back the lost brilliance to your smile.

The Common Reasons Why People Need Teeth Whitening

So what tickles your fancy? A cup of coffee on the way to work? Or perhaps you’re more of a tea person? How about a nightcap with some red wine? We’ve all been guilty of indulging in one or the other at some point in the day.

These activities, including smoking cigarettes, can cause teeth to lose their brilliance as they take on permanent stains over time.

In the next sections, I’ll be breaking down the best teeth whitening in San Diego. Read on to know more about these options and choose the best treatment for your needs.

teeth whitening options in san diego infographic

Type 1: Teeth Whitening at Home

A. Natural Means

Baking Soda

Many swear by this age-old material to help with reducing a shade or two of their teeth.

Chemically, baking soda is Sodium bicarbonate or Sodium hydrogen carbonate. It is a white substance that can be either crystalline or powdery in appearance.

The action of baking soda is a mechanical or abrasive one on teeth; similar to how whitening toothpaste works. Soft brushing with baking soda can help remove some superficial stains from the surfaces of teeth.

However, I do not recommend baking soda because it is too abrasive. It can damage your enamel and your gums.

Natural Oils

Swishing coconut oil, avocado oil, or sesame oil are some natural ways to lighten teeth. Their natural antimicrobial action improves the health and appearance of the gums. This also contributes to a naturally bright smile.

B. Commercial – At Home Means

Stain-Removing or Whitening Toothpaste

This is an entry-level, not to mention, popular go-to option to address superficial level teeth stains.

smiling woman holding a toothbrush with whitening toothpaste

Teeth whitening toothpaste is one of the easiest go-to options to achieve whiter teeth.

How it works

They work via the action of soft micro-abrasives that have a mechanical (scrubbing) action on teeth. The additional polishing agents are safe for removing surface stains. But they do little in the way of changing the color of the teeth.

A good way to hunt for results-oriented and safe whitening toothpaste is to look for an approval labeling on their packaging such as the ADA seal of acceptance.

The Pros
  • It’s safe for home use.
  • Quite affordable – you get stain removal action at the same cost as a standard toothpaste!
  • Produces results in a week or two if you have mild teeth staining.
The Cons
  • It is not very effective for teeth bearing tougher, deeper (below the top layer), and darker stains.
  • Not the best choice for teeth that have a naturally dark or yellow soft layer below the enamel.

Whitening Strips

Whitening strips, like those manufactured by Crest, are another popular go-to and cost-effective method for whitening your teeth at home.

In 2017, The American Dental Association (ADA) bestowed the Crest 3D White Whitestrips with its glowing seal of approval in terms of safety and natural results in teeth whitening.

Crest 3D Whitestrips - at-home teeth whitening

Teeth-whitening strips are a cost-effective method to whiten teeth.

How do teeth whitening strips work?

A plastic substance that is quite flexible makes up these strips. These strips have a thin coating on the surface. The coating has a gel-like consistency and is commonly made of a chemical substance called hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.

These two peroxide-based chemicals work by passing through the enamel which is the top mineralized layer of the teeth. The peroxides get to work by going directly for the molecules responsible for the discoloration or stains.

There are also whitening strips available in the market derived from natural sources such as essential oils and plants. However, these only have a gradual stain removal action. They usually require repeated applications over a long time even for mild cases to produce significant and visible results.

The Pros
  • More noticeable results than whitening toothpaste.
  • Easy to apply after following simple instructions.
  • Effective application at home.
  • Relatively cheaper than a visit to the dentist’s office for a teeth bleaching session.
The Cons
  • Repeated application sessions may be required over weeks or months.
  • Results may be uneven and unpredictable because strips are not custom-made to the shape of your teeth or mouth.
  • Shade lightens usually just by one step for most cases.
  • Compliance and follow-up are dependent on you and your routine.
  • The number of daily applications of at-home whitening strips varies greatly between different brands. It ranges from once to twice or more in a given day. This increases the chances of missed applications and poor results.
Who is it for and when is it best used?

Whitening strips can address mild to moderate levels of staining. And you don’t need impressive dental insurance from your employer for purchasing them. That’s always a plus.

Over the Counter DIY Whitening Tray Kits

Another go-to whitening option for many are teeth whitening kits with custom or prefabricated trays. Given that they are trending on social media, they are definitely worth a mention and going over in this article.

At-home over-the-counter custom whitening tray kits are usually available to buy online. Your local drug store also has a decent inventory most times.

woman applying whitening gel on a tray - at-home whitening tray kit

At-home OTC whitening kits are becoming popular on social media. They boast of professional results while doing it at home. This makes it one of the best teeth whitening options in San Diego.

The ideal candidate to give these a try are usually busy bodies on the go. It is also for those who prefer to go for alternatives to conventional OTC whitening products like whitening strips.

They work similarly to the professional teeth whitening tray systems used by the dentist in the dental office.

The Pros
  • The greatest pro here is saving on the number and duration of dental office visits.
  • Avoid dental procedures and lengthy wait times. There are no impressions to give, and no dental models required for making individual teeth whitening trays.
  • They are easy to use and apply with minimum to low risk of adverse events
  • OTC whitening tray kits will deliver comparable results as professional teeth whitening. Provided you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mild to moderate teeth staining.
The Cons
  • The concentration of the whitening gel is much lower than professional whitening gels used in dental offices. This means lower-level whitening results that will take longer to achieve.
  • The fit of the one-size-fits-all trays may be uncomfortable for some.
  • More expensive than other DIY whitening options such as toothpaste, strips, and rinses.

Whitening rinses

With a working action similar to whitening strips, whitening rinses can also change tooth color for the whiter. The chemicals at work here are also oxygen-rich compounds such as hydrogen peroxide.

Whitening rinses require you to rinse your mouth twice a day every day for 60 seconds per rinse.

However, in this instance, the time required for noticing observable change can take a while. You are looking at three to four months at least before a one-step shade improvement kicks in.

Type 2: Professional Teeth Whitening

A trained cosmetic dentist can safely whiten your teeth with no risk of damaging the top surface of the teeth. I recommend checking out the best cosmetic dentists in San Diego for your teeth whitening needs.

Here at Blyss Dental, we’ll help you attain a brighter smile. Be sure to check out our teeth whitening services.

Thinking of getting veneers instead? Read our article about the things you need to discuss with your dentist about veneers.

Dental Chairside or In-Office Bleaching

How it works – The general concept

Professional teeth whitening or In-Office Bleaching is done at the cosmetic dentist’s office. A single session may last anywhere between 40 minutes to an hour.

The procedure requires applying a specially formulated tooth whitening gel. The gel contains anywhere between 25% to 40% hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. This depends on the brand and type of gel.

A protective barrier is also used on your gums just before applying the whitening gel to the teeth. The barrier ensures that the whitening gel does not spill over to the tongue, lips, and gums.

The dentist then directs a special energy source at the teeth after the gel is in place. These energy sources range from a standard lamp to a focused laser. They are responsible for heating the gel.

Hybrid – At-Home Teeth Whitening with Professional Supervision

How it works

Have you ever noticed professional boxers and football players wearing a mouthguard? Or perhaps you’ve worn one yourself at some point.

Well, custom or ‘made for you’ teeth whitening trays look and feel much the same way inside the mouth.

While some teeth whitening systems are used at the dentist’s office, others are issued to the patient for home use. Your dentist may suggest professional take-home whitening trays. Nowadays, these systems are considered one of the best teeth whitening in San Diego.

So it’s always a good idea to have a basic understanding of the process involved in this case. And, the time required to observe a noticeable change in terms of desired teeth shade.

The process of getting whiter and lighter teeth is as simple as pie in this case.

The dentist records the impressions of your teeth. The resulting mold is then used for making the custom teeth whitening trays. At Blyss Dental, we use a digital scanner making it a more comfortable experience for you.

After the trays are made, a bleaching solution is placed inside. This allows you to immerse the teeth in the solution. This usually takes around 4 hours a day for 7 to 14 days. You should expect to see a positive and noticeable change within the two-week timeframe.


  • They offer a snug yet comfortable fit. This cannot be said for over-the-counter trays that could range from tight and painful to large and loose.
  • There is a reduced chance of developing gum irritation (read pain and discomfort) because of little to no chance of the gel leaking out.
  • You can wear them at your preferred time of the day without having to schedule a visit to the dentist’s office for a repeat whitening cycle.


  • Effectiveness of this method in terms of noticeable teeth shade lightening may not be as significant as in-office bleaching.
  • Lower concentrations of the whitening gel for at-home use mean it may take longer to see noticeable results over a long period.
  • Results may vary greatly for everyone, so there’s always a high chance you may not get the anticipated return on your investment in terms of a dream smile!!
  • Very difficult to achieve more than one step of teeth shade lightening teeth.

Zoom Whitening

How it works

Zoom is another favored teeth whitening system that a lot of clients opt for. It has a similar process to that of laser teeth whitening. It is entirely carried out by the dentist and her team of professionals in the comfort of the dental office.

a man undergoing Zoom teeth whitening

Zoom teeth whitening, which works similarly to laser teeth whitening, is a professionally recommended teeth whitening option.

The steps followed for Zoom teeth whitening are the same for the most part as laser teeth whitening up to the application of the whitening gel. However, there are certain differences in how laser teeth whitening and Zoom teeth whitening work concerning the energy or light source used to achieve results.

For one, the Zoom system light is ideally applied to the teeth in three or more fifteen-minute light-activated sessions or cycles; depending on the type and degree of teeth staining.

The light in this case simply heats the whitening gel – speeding up the release of oxygen-rich molecules responsible for lightening the shade of the teeth.

It achieves this by attacking the pigment molecules trapped inside the crystalline and collagen-based structural network of teeth.

The entire session has a minimum treatment time of 45 minutes in the dental office. This can go up to an hour or more.


  • With the proper case selection, Zoom teeth whitening can achieve up to two to three steps lighter teeth shades from the original reliably and safely.
  • The Zoom teeth whitening system is suitable for addressing most types of stains – dark, light, superficial/surface, and/or deep stains.
  • Unlike a laser, which targets one tooth at a time, the Zoom light reaches all your teeth at the same time, which is great for getting fast and consistent results!
  • The Zoom light source filters out all the needless infrared energy. This means there is a lot less exposure of teeth to excess heat on account of minimal infrared emissions.
  • Studies have shown more speedy whitening results with the Zoom system than with laser teeth whitening.


  • Not very effective for targeting individual teeth.
  • If you have more sensitive teeth than usual, then perhaps going through three sessions of Zoom laser teeth whitening (with three successive whitening gel applications) may be a tad cumbersome. You can discuss this point, among other things, with your cosmetic dentist before deciding on the best course of action in this case.

Laser Teeth Whitening

How it works

This is one of the popular options for professional and best teeth whitening in San Diego. It’s also the one I always recommend, and prefer, for most of my valued teeth whitening clientele.

This is because I get the best, consistent, and most professional results every time with laser teeth whitening.

There are many different types of laser teeth whitening kits available on the market, but the general concept and mode of action are the same.

As the name implies, this whitening procedure requires the use of a special cosmetic dentistry laser for in-office teeth whitening.

Moreover, the entire procedure is done on the dental chair and the steps are the same as for teeth whitening using a standard lamp.

A concentrated tooth whitening gel is applied (with a rubber guard and gum protective barrier already in place) to your teeth. Instead of a lamp, a pen-like or pocket-size laser is used to activate the concentrated whitening gel.

The laser activates and coaxes certain oxygen-rich molecules from the gel. The oxygen-rich molecules in turn target and subsequently break down the stain molecules – lightening the shade and color of the teeth.

The resulting foaming action of the whitening gel means that it’s hard at work doing away with those pesky stains on your teeth!

After leaving the activated gel on the teeth for a while; the cosmetic dentist goes about removing it with a specialized vacuum suction apparatus.

These steps or cycles may be repeated a few more times, depending on the target teeth shade that you and your cosmetic dentist agreed on before undergoing the laser whitening procedure.

Lastly, the dentist will rinse your mouth and remove the protective barrier around the teeth.


  • Greatly speeds up the chemical activation of the components in the whitening gel. So, it can get to work on those annoying stains a lot faster.
  • You can look forward to super fast and noticeable results from the get-go; especially when compared to DIY whitening products at home!
  • The dentist and her team do all the work at the office. This means you’re in safe hands so sit back and relax!
  • You get long-lasting and stable outcomes in terms of maintaining the target shade of teeth.
  • It’s a safe procedure in a controlled environment overseen by a trained cosmetic dental professional.
  • More effective results than just a simple gel application.
  • Extremely low risk of incurring health hazards. This may include damage to inner sensitive parts of teeth and surrounding soft areas.
  • Quite a few patients find laser teeth whitening procedures more tolerable. They can be done in a single session with a one-time application of the whitening gel.
  • Recommended if you have one or two individual stained teeth that require whitening.


  • The cost – it is one of the more expensive versions of teeth whitening.
  • May not also work so well for some patients with very deep stains that do not tend to lighten very easily.
  • Be prepared to make a little room in your daily schedule. A visit to the dentist for laser teeth whitening can easily last for an hour or more. But the results are worth it!
  • The laser emits a very narrow albeit focused beam of light energy. Each tooth must be ‘lazed’ individually during the whitening procedure to get the desired outcome.
  • The amount of heat generated by the laser is quite high. So, there is an extended exposure time to infrared emissions.

Kör Specialized Whitening System

This new whitening system offers tremendous potential for delivering faster and more effective results than conventional approaches. So it inches its way to becoming the best teeth whitening in San Diego.

It does this by cracking the code for getting stellar and maximally effective teeth whitening results.

KöR’s approach combines a highly effective whitening gel and specialized teeth ‘sealing trays’. Also, it employs a scientifically validated application method. The dentist primes the whitening gel at a consistently cold temperature.

Internal tooth color comes from large pigment molecules hiding within the microstructure of teeth. So this application ensures a potent whitening dose targeting internal tooth stain molecules.

Moreover, KöR’s specialized trays are constructed in a way that they provide a sealing effect around the teeth. This keeps saliva and gum fluid from coming into contact with the inside of the whitening trays and the gel.

This sealing system aims to limit the antioxidant influence of the saliva and other oral fluids on the whitening gel. Salivary contamination of the whitening gel is mainly responsible for reducing the whitening activity of the peroxide-based whitening gel. The result is a longer exposure time of enamel to the whitening gel in its most potent state.


The world of all things teeth whitening may seem bewildering at times. And I have tried to cover the most common options available to you.

Year after year, many over-the-counter whitening products come out that add to a long list of options. But they do not bleach teeth as professional teeth whitening does in the safe setting of the dental office.

The main reason is the concentration of the whitening or hydrogen peroxide gel. Professional gels have  35% when compared to at-home or DIY bleaching gels which clock in at 7 to 10%.

The concentration of the professional gel stays put on your teeth for a considerable amount of time. So chances that your teeth will significantly lighten by two shades or more are much higher.

Still have questions and no one to put them to? Need professional and the best teeth whitening in San Diego?

Read more: Top questions about cosmetic dentistry.

Your days of fretting about your dental woes are behind you. Just give us a call today and book your free consultation!


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