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We reviewed some of the best teeth whitening strips, toothpastes, and pens from brands like Crest, Sensodyne, and Philips.

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.

Price guide

The products on this list are priced as follows:

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

PriceProduct typeFrequency of useDuration of useActive ingredients
Crest 3D White Glamorous White Whitestrips$$$stripsonce daily14 dayshydrogen peroxide
Lumineux Whitening Strips$$$stripsonce daily for 7 days followed by 1 to 2 times a week continual, use as neededcoconut oil, Dead Sea salt, lemon peel oil
Crest 3D Whitestrips Dental Whitening Kit, Sensitive$$$stripsonce daily14 dayshydrogen peroxide
Tom’s of Maine Simply White Fluoride Toothpaste$$toothpastetwice dailycontinual, use as neededhydrated silica, sodium fluoride
Colgate Optic White Advanced Toothpaste$$toothpastetwice daily4 weeksPVP, silica, hydrogen peroxide, sodium monofluorophosphate
Sensodyne Extra Whitening Toothpaste$toothpastetwice dailycontinual, use as neededpotassium nitrate, hydrated silica, sodium fluoride
Bite Fresh Mint Toothpaste Bits$$$toothtpaste bitstwice dailycontinual, use as neededcalcium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, erythritol, nano-hydroxyapatite
Philips Zoom Whitening Pen$$pentwice daily2 weekshydrogen 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. If you have these, talk with your dentist about the best whitening solution for you.

If you have deep stains, look for a product that removes intrinsic and 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. While many don’t have the ADA Seal of Acceptance, they may still be safe and effective.

Whitening mouthwashes

These may be a good option for people with tooth sensitivity. Many whitening mouthwashes contain the same active ingredient as whitening strips — hydrogen peroxide. It may take 3 months to see a whitening effect from mouthwashes or rinses.

Pros

  • good for sensitive teeth
  • won’t harm gums or oral tissue
  • budget-friendly way to whiten teeth

Cons

  • may take several months before you see results
  • only removes surface stains
  • can be used by multiple people within the household
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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 your level of tooth sensitivity.
  • Brush-on gels: These are different from tooth paint. Tooth paint, which is applied on each tooth with a brush, doesn’t contain whitening ingredients. Tooth paint coats teeth, covering up stains, but it doesn’t remove them. Brush-on gels contain ingredients designed to lighten teeth.
  • Teeth whitening pens: These pens are designed for on-the-go use.

Pros

  • pens are easily transportable for use while traveling
  • available in multiple forms
  • easy to find in stores and online

Cons

  • don’t whiten as well as strips
  • pre-filled trays can be uncomfortable to use
  • may be uncomfortable for sensitive teeth and gums
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LED whitening kits

LED on its own doesn’t whiten teeth. When LED 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 may be harsh or damaging to teeth if they’re used too often or for too long.

Pros

  • results vary, but many people report whiter teeth after using LED kits than from other at-home whitening products
  • less expensive than professional whitening
  • does not require the use of UV radiation

Cons

  • overuse can damage teeth
  • tooth and gum sensitivity are common
  • when used incorrectly, the whitening agent can burn the tongue or gums during treatment
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Teeth whitening strips

Whitening strips contain a thin layer of hydrogen peroxide or another 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 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.

Keep the following in mind when using whitening strips:

  • Avoid any products that use chlorine dioxide as the active ingredient.
  • Don’t use products for longer or more often than directed.

Pros

  • easy to use
  • less expensive than in-office dental procedures

Cons

  • can cause tooth and gum sensitivity
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Whitening toothpastes

In order to use whitening toothpaste effectively, brush your teeth at least twice a day for around 2 minutes. Whitening toothpastes usually contain abrasives that work to scrub off surface stains. They also may contain active ingredients that lighten teeth by several shades.

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.

Make sure to use proper brushing techniques, such as keeping your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to gums and using short strokes about the width of a tooth.

It’s also important to be patient. Whitening toothpastes can be very effective, but they don’t work quickly.

Pros

  • easy to use daily
  • one of the most affordable options

Cons

  • take longer to work
  • can lead to tooth sensitivity
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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.

How do teeth whitening products work?

Most whitening products rely on hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide to whiten teeth. These substances work by penetrating tooth enamel to reach the inner layer of dentin. Within the dentin layer, they oxidize and lighten stains by breaking down the deeply-pigmented molecules that make teeth look darker.

Light therapy in whitening kits doesn’t add whitening power. Rather, it quickens oxidation, so you get more dramatic results in a shorter period of time.

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 depends on the 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.