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We looked at ingredients and claims for whitening products to provide you with this list of great ones. We looked at features such as comfort, cost, and ability to dazzle yellow or stained teeth.

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.

Whitening products come in a variety of forms for you to choose from. Here are seven 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.

Price guide

The products on this list are priced as follows:

  • $ = under $10
  • $$ = $10–$25
  • $$$ = over $25

Best no-slip whitening strips

Crest 3D White Glamorous White Whitestrips

  • Price: $$$
  • Product type: strips

Many users like that these strips stay on teeth easily and come off cleanly. Their no-slip grip design helps the strips stay in place on teeth.

One box provides enough strips for 2 weeks. The strips are meant to be used once daily for 30 minutes. When used as directed, they should remove both extrinsic and intrinsic tooth stains.

Each strip contains around 14 percent hydrogen peroxide. Some people find that their teeth become overly sensitive for hours or days after exposure to hydrogen peroxide.

Pros

  • significant whitening power
  • safe for tooth enamel
  • whitening lasts 6 months or longer

Cons

  • can be uncomfortable to use for sensitive teeth

Best whitening kit for sensitive teeth

Crest 3D Whitestrips Gentle Whitening Kit

  • Price: $$$
  • Product type: strips

If you have sensitive teeth or are looking for a gentler alternative to products with lots of hydrogen peroxide, this kit may be a good fit for you. It contains around 6 percent hydrogen peroxide per strip.

One kit supplies enough strips for 2 weeks. The strips are meant to be worn once daily.

Since this product is formulated for sensitive teeth, it isn’t as powerful as some other varieties, including Crest 3D White Glamorous White Whitestrips. Even so, users report that this product is effective and comfortable.

Pros

  • comfortable whitening for sensitive teeth
  • users say the strips stay on securely
  • has no taste or lingering aftertaste

Cons

  • people with very sensitive teeth may still experience discomfort

Best natural whitening toothpaste

Tom’s of Maine Simply White Natural Toothpaste

  • Price: $$
  • Product type: toothpaste

Whitening toothpastes are an easy and convenient way to whiten teeth, although they typically lack the dramatic, fast impact of whitening strips.

Tom’s of Maine Simply White Natural Toothpaste uses silica to naturally remove surface stains from teeth, with no added chemicals. It also has fluoride for cavity protection. Plus, it works effectively as a breath freshener.

It’s available as a cream or gel and comes in two minty flavors. Both the cream and gel have the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Seal of Acceptance.

Pros

  • no added chemicals or artificial sweeteners
  • contains fluoride
  • reviewers note they like the taste

Cons

  • limited whitening power
  • removes surface stains only
  • won’t eliminate intrinsic stains

Best whitening toothpaste for intrinsic stains

Colgate Optic White Whitening Toothpaste

  • Price: $$
  • Product type: toothpaste

Unlike most other whitening toothpastes, Colgate Optic White Toothpaste removes intrinsic and extrinsic stains. Its active whitening ingredient is hydrogen peroxide. It also contains fluoride to protect against cavities.

Many users report seeing a difference in tooth color in less than 2 weeks.

This toothpaste has a refreshing taste. It also has a slightly gritty texture, which some people like, and others do not.

Pros

  • deep whitening power to remove intrinsic and extrinsic stains
  • safe for tooth enamel
  • sugar-free and gluten-free

Cons

  • can be harsh for sensitive teeth
  • gritty texture

Best whitening toothpaste for sensitive teeth

Sensodyne Extra Whitening Toothpaste

  • Price: $
  • Product type: toothpaste

Sensodyne is a well-known manufacturer of toothpaste for sensitive teeth. This variety is meant to gently whiten surface stains while protecting your teeth from the “zinging” sensation caused by some whitening toothpastes. It should also reduce overall sensitivity in already-sensitive teeth.

It contains fluoride for cavity protection and tartar control. Users say it has a clean, minty flavor.

Pros

  • gentle enough for sensitive teeth
  • contains fluoride
  • fresh, minty taste

Cons

  • only removes surface stains

Best chemical-free whitening strips

Lumineux Teeth Whitening Strips

  • Price: $$$
  • Product type: strips

These gentle whitening strips rely on lemon peel oil, coconut oil, sage oil, and mineral-rich sea salt from the Dead Sea to whiten teeth.

According to the manufacturer, this product protects your mouth’s natural microbiome by killing off bad bacteria, while protecting good bacteria. Unlike harsher whitening strips, these can be used on a monthly basis.

Pros

  • does not contain harsh ingredients
  • safe for tooth enamel
  • comfortable to use on sensitive teeth

Cons

  • some users say the strips dissolve and take on a jelly-like consistency

Best environmentally-friendly option

Bite Fresh Mint Toothpaste Bits

  • Price: $$$
  • Product type: toothpaste bit

Bite’s toothpaste bits offer an entirely plastic-free way to whiten your teeth. To use them, you simply pop one in your mouth, bite down, and brush with a wet toothbrush. The Fresh Mint variety is a naturally whitening toothpaste. (The other varieties are fresh mint, activated charcoal, and berry twist for children.)

Bite Fresh Mint Toothpaste Bits do not contain fluoride. They’re made from cruelty-free, vegan ingredients. Erythritol, an active ingredient, may provide protection against cavities. Calcium carbonate is a mild abrasive that helps polish teeth and remove surface stains.

Pros

  • gentle for sensitive teeth
  • does not contain harsh chemical ingredients
  • eco-friendly packaging

Cons

  • does not remove intrinsic stains

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.

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.

There are many other 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:

Whitening mouthwashes

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 study found that tooth powder was more effective than some toothpastes at eliminating extrinsic staining.

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 in your mouth for 30 minutes or longer, based on tooth sensitivity
  • brush-on gels, which 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 designed for on-the-go use

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 is 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 is 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.