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- Evaluate ingredients and composition: Do they have the potential to cause harm?
- Fact-check all health claims: Do they align with the current body of scientific evidence?
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We reviewed some of the best teeth whitening strips, toothpastes, and pens from trustworthy brands like Crest, Sensodyne, and Philips. Here are our picks, including eco-friendly and chemical-free products for sensitive teeth.
- Best no-slip whitening strips: Crest 3D White Glamorous White Whitestrips | Skip to review
- Best whitening kit for sensitive teeth: Crest 3D Whitestrips Gentle Whitening Kit | Skip to review
- Best natural whitening toothpaste: Tom’s of Maine Simply White Natural Toothpaste | Skip to review
- Best whitening toothpaste for removing intrinsic stains: Colgate Optic White Whitening Toothpaste | Skip to review
- Best whitening toothpaste for sensitive teeth: Sensodyne Extra Whitening Toothpaste | Skip to review
- Best chemical-free whitening strips: Lumineux Teeth Whitening Strips | Skip to review
- Best environmentally friendly option: Bite Fresh Mint Toothpaste Bits | Skip to review
- Best teeth whitening pen: Philips Zoom Whitening Pen | Skip to review
At-home teeth whitening products may not always be as effective as treatments you get at the dentist’s office, but these over-the-counter (OTC) picks may help you come closer to your whitest teeth.
We looked at ingredients and claims to provide you with this list of great whitening products. We also looked at features, such as comfort, cost, and ability to dazzle yellow or stained teeth.
Whitening products come in a variety of forms for you to choose from. Here are 8 of the best options to consider.
The products on this list come from trusted, transparent companies with solid track records for manufacturing quality and reliability.
We chose products with ingredients that are safe as well as effective. We read scores of customer reviews to gauge issues, such as whitening speed and oral comfort. We took product taste and texture into account. We also kept an eye on the price.
Each product on our list has passed our strict vetting standards.
The products on this list are priced as follows:
- $ = under $10
- $$ = $10–$25
- $$$ = over $25
|Price||Product type||Frequency of use||Duration of use||Active ingredients|
|Crest 3D White Glamorous White Whitestrips||$$$||strips||once daily||14 days||hydrogen peroxide|
|Crest 3D Whitestrips Dental Whitening Kit, Sensitive||$$$||strips||once daily||14 days||hydrogen peroxide|
|Tom’s of Maine Simply White Natural Toothpaste||$$||toothpaste||twice daily||continual, use as needed||hydrated silica, sodium fluoride|
|Colgate Optic White Whitening Toothpaste||$$||toothpaste||twice daily||4 weeks||PVP, silica, hydrogen peroxide, sodium monofluorophosphate|
|Sensodyne Extra Whitening Toothpaste||$||toothpaste||twice daily||continual, use as needed||potassium nitrate, hydrated silica, sodium fluoride|
|Lumineux Teeth Whitening Strips||$$$||strips||once daily for 7 days followed by 1 to 2 times a week ||continual, use as needed||coconut oil, Dead Sea salt, lemon peel oil|
|Bite Fresh Mint Toothpaste Bits||$$$||toothtpaste bits||twice daily||continual, use as needed||calcium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, erythritol, nano-hydroxyapatite|
|Philips Zoom Whitening Pen||$$||pen||twice daily||2 weeks||hydrogen peroxide|
If you’re looking for the right type of product to whiten your teeth, there are a few important questions to ask yourself, including:
- How stained are my teeth?
- Do I have existing dental work, such as crowns or veneers?
- How sensitive are my teeth?
- What’s my budget?
- How fast does the product work?
Many whitening products can become uncomfortable for teeth over time. For maximum results with whitening strips, you’ll need to use the entire box, so gauge your sensitivity level before buying.
Whitening products won’t work on veneers and other types of dental work. Talk with your dentist about your best whitening solution if you’re looking to whiten these.
If you have deep stains, look for a product that removes intrinsic stains as well as extrinsic (surface) stains.
If budget is an issue, keep your eye on the manufacturer’s website for coupons and promotions. These come up more frequently than you might expect.
There are many teeth whitening products you can try. Many don’t have the ADA Seal of Acceptance, but that doesn’t mean they’re not safe or effective.
Products to consider include:
These may be a good option for people with tooth sensitivity. Many whitening mouthwashes contain the same active ingredients as whitening strips. It may take as long as 3 months to see a whitening effect from mouthwashes or rinses, though.
Teeth whitening powders
These work similarly to toothpaste. One
Teeth whitening gels
Teeth whitening gels contain the same active ingredients as whitening strips. They’re available in several forms, including:
- Pre-filled trays: You leave these in your mouth for 30 minutes or longer, based on tooth sensitivity.
- Brush-on gels: These are different from tooth paint. Tooth paint, which also goes on each tooth with a brush, doesn’t contain whitening ingredients. Tooth paint coats teeth, covering up stains, but not removing them. Brush-on gels contain ingredients designed to lighten teeth.
- Teeth whitening pens: These pens are designed for on-the-go use.
LED whitening kits
LED light on its own doesn’t whiten teeth. When LED light is added to a whitening kit, it accelerates the whitening process by speeding up the chemical reactions produced by whiteners, like hydrogen peroxide.
Whitening kits that use LED light may be harsh or damaging to teeth if they’re used too often or for too long.
Whitening strips are easy to use and don’t require a prescription. They’re less expensive than in-office dental procedures for teeth whitening, and they typically produce good results.
Why whitening strips work
Whitening strips contain a thin layer of hydrogen peroxide or other active ingredient, adhered to a pliable, plastic strip. The active ingredients in whitening strips vary, but many use carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide.
Whitening strips bleach off surface stains. They also penetrate tooth enamel and dentin to remove intrinsic stains from deep within the tooth. If not used correctly, they can be harmful to your teeth.
What to look out for
Always check labels for a list of ingredients. Unlike the whitening strips we reviewed for this article, some rely on chlorine dioxide, a chemical oxidizer that can erode tooth enamel and damage teeth.
Whitening strips are typically safe to use, as long as you follow package directions. If you leave them on too long or use them more often than recommended, you may experience side effects.
Keep the following in mind when using whitening strips:
- Avoid chlorine dioxide.
- Don’t use products for longer or more often than directed.
Common side effects
The most common side effects are discomfort caused by tooth sensitivity and gum irritation.
Other potential side effects include:
- changes in tooth enamel, such as increased roughness or softness
- erosion of dental restorations, such as fillings
- damage to braces
In order to use whitening toothpaste effectively, brush your teeth at least twice a day for around 2 minutes.
Why whitening toothpastes work
Whitening toothpastes usually contain abrasives that work to scrub off surface stains. They also may contain active ingredients that lighten teeth by several shades.
What to look out for
Keep in mind that whitening toothpastes contain ingredients that might increase tooth sensitivity or gum irritation. Using a soft bristle brush may help lessen these effects for some people.
You’ll also have to have patience. Whitening toothpastes can be very effective, but they don’t work quickly.
Your teeth can have both intrinsic and extrinsic stains.
Extrinsic stains are caused by things in your environment that come into contact with your teeth. These include foods and drinks that contain tannins (such as red wine), beer, coffee, and tea. Colas and cigarette smoke also cause extrinsic stains to occur.
Intrinsic stains occur inside the tooth and can be seen on the outside. This type of staining can be caused by certain types of medications or illnesses. Aging, trauma to the tooth, and infections can also cause intrinsic staining to occur.
Intrinsic stains can also be caused by overexposure to fluoride when teeth are developing in childhood.
Luckily, there are many products that remove stains from teeth, giving you a brighter smile.
Are teeth whitening products safe?
When used as directed, teeth whitening products from trusted manufacturers, such as the ones on this list, are considered safe for teeth and gums. It’s possible to overuse whitening strips, however. This practice may make whitening strips less safe for tooth enamel, and irritating to gums.
How often should I use teeth whitening products?
It’s important to follow the directions provided for use. Some white strips should only be used twice a year. Others are gentle enough to use monthly. If your teeth become sensitive or your gums get irritated, stop using the whitening product, at least temporarily.
Can teeth whitening products fix yellow teeth?
The cause, extent, and severity of staining are all important variables to consider. Whitening products can reduce a significant amount of yellowing on teeth but may not be enough for everyone.
If your teeth are very yellow or strongly discolored, talk with your dentist about viable solutions that will be best for you. These may include whitening products or professional treatments.
How long does teeth whitening last?
How long whitening will last varies by product. Some whitening strips can keep teeth white for 6 months or longer. You may have less dramatic results with whitening toothpastes.
Yellow or stained teeth can be made significantly whiter with the use of OTC products. These products include teeth whitening strips and whitening toothpaste.
Teeth whitening products are typically safe to use, as long as you follow package directions. There are even options for people with highly sensitive teeth.
It’s important to note that teeth whitening products aren’t meant for use by children. It may also be wise to consult with your dentist before using whitening products as some ingredients in these products can be harmful to your teeth.