The 4 best teeth whitening kits for a brighter smile and minimal irritation

  • The best teeth whitening kits are easy to use and cause minimal irritation to your gums or teeth.
  • Our top overall pick, Crest 3D White Professional Effects Whitestrips kit, is effective, simple, and fairly affordable.
  • We interviewed four dentists to inform our choices and explain the ingredients and efficacy of each pick.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Dr. André V. Ritter, DDS, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Cariology and Comprehensive Care at the NYU College of Dentistry.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Some of the most delicious and beloved foods – red wine, coffee, soda – are not the best for keeping your pearly whites spotless. And that’s exactly why teeth whitening is a $3.2 billion worldwide industry. Consequently, there are thousands of options out there, including expensive services at your dentist’s office.

If you’re interested in whitening your teeth at home but don’t want to drop serious cash, there are several effective at-home teeth whitening kits. (You can also try a whitening toothpaste.) Below, we rank a few of the best options on the market with insight from four dentists: Dr. Ania Mohelicki DDS, Dr. Ira Handschuh DDS, Dr. Patrick Campbell DDS, and Dr. Charles Sutera DDS, FAGD.

Experts say that whitening kits are safe when used as directed. However, gum irritation and tooth sensitivity are common side effects even when you follow the directions. For more input on how to whiten sensitive teeth, see the FAQ section at the end.

We undertook hours of research combing through both consumer and expert reviews and ratings and did personal testing before settling on the whitening kits we’ve included in this guide. Each of the teeth whitening kits below are effective, easy to use, and less likely to irritate your teeth or gums.

Here are the best teeth whitening kits you can buy:

Best teeth whitening strips overall

crest whitening kit

If resting a tray on your teeth doesn’t sound appealing, Crest 3D White Professional Effects Whitestrips are an effective, dentist-recommended way to get whiter teeth.

Pros: Produces results in four or five uses, recommended by dentists, low peroxide levels

Cons: May irritate the gums

The Crest 3D White Professional Effects Whitestrips kit comes with 40 strips for 20 treatments (each treatment consists of a strip on the upper teeth and one on the lower teeth.) You are supposed to wear the strips for half an hour once per day.

Crest’s “Advanced Seal Technology” offers a no-slip grip, which allows you to drink water and talk while wearing the strips. Crest claims that after the 20 daily treatments, you can remove 14 years of tooth stains. Hydrogen peroxide is one of the active ingredients in the Whitestrips.

The Reviews team interviewed Dr. Hadaegh DDS to get his recommendations for the best whitening products. He recommended Crest’s strips because the hydrogen peroxide levels are relatively low yet still effective.

But, one drawback of using strips is that they don’t offer the custom fit of trays, which means you may notice some increased sensitivity if your gums come in contact with the whitening strips.

Best for sensitive gums

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If you’re looking for more precision in your application to avoid gum sensitivity, your best bet is combining teeth whitening gel with mouth trays or guards like in the Opalescence Go 15% kit.

Pros: Effective, greater control over application, potentially less gum sensitivity

Cons: Expensive

The benefit of using a mouth tray or mouth guard with gel is that, unlike white strips, you aren’t as likely to miss spots on the teeth or irritate your gums. 

If you don’t have whitening trays and want as close to professional results as possible, Dr. Hadaegh DDS has recommended Opalescence Go 15% to Business Insider in the past. “Like Crest 3D Whitestrips, the whitening gel comes in ready-made trays that adapt to your teeth all the way to your molars,” he wrote. “They have 15% hydrogen peroxide, which means you only need to wear them for 15 to 20 minutes a day for five to 10 days. It also contains potassium nitrate and fluoride to help reduce sensitivity while strengthening enamel.” Because the concentration of hydrogen peroxide is so high, there’s a chance you may still experience some sensitivity, in which case it’s best to switch to a less concentrated alternative like Crest Whitestrips.

The prefilled trays can be worn right out of the package, but the kit is more expensive than other reusable options on this list. It’s convenient, but you could save yourself money by buying reusable trays (or asking your dentist’s office to make you some) and replenishing your whitening pens when they run out. 

Best LED kit

best teeth whitening kit

If you don’t want to use strips and are determined to use an LED light, the SmileDirectClub Teeth Whitening Kit is the way to go.

Pros: Few reports of sensitivity issues, more precise application of whitening gel, reusable mouth guard

Cons: Expensive, dentists agree the LED light will not make a noticeable difference 

SmileDirectClub, like many of the more expensive direct-to-consumer teeth whitening kits on the market, includes a mouthguard with an LED light inside that’s meant to act as a catalyst for the hydrogen peroxide that whitens teeth — ideally, giving you professional results faster than other options. It also only requires 10 minutes of use each day.

However, studies don’t seem to agree with the marketing claims that LED lights make teeth whitening more effective, and most of the dentists we interviewed agreed that they don’t speed up the process. Dr. Campbell DDS put it succinctly: “Frankly, these products are not worth the money.” But, they do come with whitening pens that allow you a bit more control in terms of the application so you can avoid your gums and any increased sensitivity. There’s also the option to buy only the whitening pens and invest in whitening trays for safe and precise application.

If you don’t want to deal with whitening strips or buying gel and trays separately, or you’re committed to trying the LED light system, then SmileDirectClub’s Teeth Whitening Kit is one of the most convenient choices. 

It’s built to last you through one full year of treatments and includes nine whitening pens (enough for two full treatments, according to the company’s estimates, plus one bonus pen) and the LED light mouthguard. Unlike most LED options that need to be plugged in overnight before you can use them, SmileDirectClub’s version can plug right into your smartphone (Android or iPhone) and requires minimal battery power. 

The company recommends using the device for five minutes in the morning and five minutes in the evening every day for a week, once every six months. I tested the device and found the company’s estimates to be conservative — I got more than double the use out of the pens than expected. 

SmileDirectClub’s Teeth Whitening Kit is $74 for the LED Light and an estimated 12-month supply of whitening pens, and $40 for the LED Light and 6-month pen supply. You can find them all here

Best natural kit

teeth whitening

The Miswak Club Natural Teeth Whitening Kit is your best alternative if you’re looking for a natural, chemical-free approach to whitening your teeth.

Pros: Inexpensive, easy to use, no added chemicals

Cons: Takes some getting used to, smells weird

Teeth-cleaning sticks known as Miswak have been used for thousands of years in what is now Pakistan, India, many African countries, and other parts of the world. And, a meta-analysis in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine found that the Miswak was just as effective for oral hygiene as the toothbrush and toothpaste used by Western cultures.

The Miswak Club Natural Teeth Whitening Kit features two Miswak root sticks with two carrying cases. Each stick will last for three weeks of daily use. Miswak comes from the Arak tree, and this product contains no pesticides or chemicals. Miswak Club offers a 120-day money-back guarantee if you do not have noticeably whiter teeth after using their kit.

Several expert sites reviewed the Miswak Club kit because of the novelty of it. Bustle liked that it comes with two sticks in the kit, doesn’t make a mess, and is easy to bring along when traveling. Subaholic found that the root works great, but thought the taste was terrible. And, Apartment Therapy was put off by the “sweetly musky” smell of the root but found that when you soak it in water with some peppermint oil, it is much more bearable.

Some reviewers have noted that it may take a few weeks of daily use to notice effects and that the smell may be a bit off-putting.

What else we considered

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  • GLO Teeth Whitening Kit: Glo Science sells a similar device to SmileDirectClub; both use an LED mouthpiece to reportedly act as a catalyst for hydrogen peroxide. But SmileDirectClub is a better value at half the cost. We still recommend strips over gel and mouth trays over LED light options, though.

FAQs about whitening your teeth

What types of teeth whitening products exist?

There are essentially two types of kits: ones that bleach your teeth to take stains off and ones that physically scrape off the stains. Whitening trays and strips have been the standard for decades and generally rely on carbamide or hydrogen peroxide. Activated charcoal powders had a spike in popularity recently, but the dentists we interviewed would tell you to nix the powders. Dr. Handschuh and Dr. Mohelicki told Business Insider that they don’t recommend these because they can be abrasive and only remove surface stains. 

There is a third type of teeth whitening product that simply blasts your teeth with LED light, which typically claims to speed up the process and achieve more intense results. However, most of the dentists we interviewed agreed that any gains from this treatment are short-lived or nonexistent. “Most studies show some difference detected by computers, but no visual difference detected by the human eye. For the studies conducted in actual patients (in vivo), most found no added benefit for light-activated systems,” says Dr. Sutera.

Only the SmileDirectClub system in our guide uses this technology, but it is used in conjunction with a whitening gel and a mouthguard that may offer better control over your placement and avoid increased gum sensitivity in comparison to strips. 

Which teeth whitening products are most effective?

“Shopping for teeth whitening products is very simple.” Dr. Sutera explained. “There is only one active ingredient in all teeth whitening products: hydrogen peroxide. It’s the same agent whether it’s prescription use or over the counter. Any other ingredients in the product are inactive fillers needed to create the right consistency of the product.” If you see carbamide peroxide on your ingredient list, it’s just a derivative of hydrogen peroxide. 

“The key is to understand that whitening can be effective at any percentage, but what differs is the time of use. A high percentage of hydrogen peroxide typically is only kept on the teeth for 20 minutes maximum, while a lower percentage can be worn for 6 hours or overnight.” Dr. Sutera explains. “Much of the selection comes down to personal preference. If you have a tendency to develop tooth sensitivity or if you want to minimize the risks of irritating your gums, that’s when you’d select a lower concentration.”

A few warnings about teeth whitening kits

Peroxide is effective, but it comes with several warnings. Pregnant or nursing women may want to stop using peroxide-based whitening products. It also isn’t suitable for children under 14 years old. And, you should not use peroxide for longer than two weeks of daily use without the supervision of a dentist.

The FDA does not recommend using any whitening gels with a peroxide concentration of higher than 18%. Two of the kits we recommend use peroxide (Crest Whitestrips and SmileDirectClub) but they should be safe for most people.

Again, you should always consult with your dentist before starting a course of treatment. For instance, if your darkened teeth are due to the natural thinning of tooth enamel that comes with aging, whitening kits will not help you. Also, they cannot whiten fillings, dentures, veneers, crowns, or caps.

Most importantly, Dr. Mohelicki says the biggest concern is wearing whitening kits for the right amount of time. “Over-the-counter options are inexpensive when compared to in-office whitening, but they offer no gum protection. With no gum protection, users can experience increased sensitivity and even burns in severe cases.” 

How to use teeth whitening kits effectively

Before using a teeth whitening kit, brush your teeth so your whitening agent can make contact with the surface of your teeth to improve efficacy, and so it doesn’t accidentally create an uneven white. “Any buildup of plaque or food debris will not allow for the whitening agent to contact the tooth and therefore not allow the whitening agent to do its job,” Dr. Campbell explained. “You could end up with a speckled, uneven whitened appearance.” 

And, after you’ve whitened, try to avoid food and drinks that stain your teeth.”I recommend that my patients stick to a ‘colorless diet’ just after whitening,” Dr. Handschuh told Business Insider. “Meaning, avoid highly-staining food and drink such as coffee, red wine, tea, sauces, etc.” But, if you really want to, he recommends using a straw to bypass your teeth a bit. 

As Dr. Sutera explained, whitening your teeth and then having a glass of red wine is like “two people in a canoe paddling in different directions. The whitening products open the pores and clean them out. If you have coffee, tea, or red wine within 72 hours of whitening your teeth, your teeth are more likely to absorb dark stains and adversely impact your whitening results.”

Does teeth-whitening damage your enamel?

“Most studies show that whitening does not damage enamel,” Dr. Sutera said. Though, there has been recent research that shows teeth whitening can affect proteins deeper in the tooth, though researchers are not currently sure if the damage is temporary or permanent, according to Dr. Sutera.

How can you prevent tooth sensitivity?

“It is common for the majority of people to experience increased tooth sensitivity after having teeth whitening done.” Dr. Mohelicki says. “However, for those who already have sensitive teeth, I recommend starting out by trying a whitening toothpaste. This takes significantly longer than trying an over-the-counter product or having teeth bleached in-office, but it can be significantly less painful.”

For whitening toothpaste, Dr. Sutera recommends patients with sensitive teeth use a toothpaste with potassium nitrate and fluoride and also use a fluoride mouth rinse. According to Dr. Sutera, potassium nitrate is the primary ingredient that helps with sensitive teeth, and fluoride a secondary option that has also been shown to help.  

If you have sensitive teeth and want to use a teeth whitening agent, you may just want to avoid higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide. “The suggestion I would make is to use a lower concentration of whitening agent to get their desired whitening outcome while minimizing the risk of tooth sensitivity.” Dr. Campbell said. “Although anecdotal, I’ve found that brushing with Sensodyne toothpaste before and after whitening has helped me avoid sensitivity.”  

Why do you feel increased sensitivity after you whiten?

The bleaching temporarily weakens your enamel so the bleach can pass through it and further lift those stains, explained Dr. Mohelicki. “When [our enamel] is weakened during the bleaching treatment, many patients find that it can be hard to consume hot beverages, ice-cold beverages, or even eat certain foods. This typically wears off within 72 hours of ending treatment.” 

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 4 best whitening toothpastes of 2021 that help remove surface stains from your teeth

  • Trading your regular toothpaste for the whitening kind lifts surface stains while also cleaning.
  • While studies show charcoal toothpaste doesn’t actually whiten teeth, other ingredients are proven to work.
  • Colgate’s Optic White Express White Toothpaste is our top choice because results show up in just three days.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Unless your smile is already blinding, pretty much everyone wants whiter teeth. Our smile is one of the first things other people notice when meeting us, and considering most of us indulge in teeth-staining compounds like coffee, red wine, maybe even cigarettes, there’s ample opportunity for pearly whites to be brighter.

While whitening strips can be expensive, painful, and require effort, incorporating whitening properties into your toothpaste helps you get more out of something you’re going to do twice a day, regardless. 

Contrary to occasional misconceptions, most whitening toothpaste is safe and suitable for daily use – but you have to choose the right product. While whitening toothpaste generally doesn’t cause tooth sensitivity, some harsher whitening toothpaste can cause damage to tooth enamel if used for weeks or months at a time. In fact, one of the most popular of-the-moment toothpaste ingredients, activated charcoal, is not only useless when it comes to whitening teeth, but it also has the potential to damage your enamel, discolor it permanently, and damage your gums, according to a 2019 study in the British Dental Journal. 

What’s more, not every ingredient is equal: A 2019 study in the Journal of Applied Oral Science found that whitening toothpaste with blue covarine and microbeads (like that in Oral B 3D White Perfection – 3DW) were the most effective at whitening teeth after just one brush, and ones with hydrogen peroxide made pearly whites pearlier when used over time.

This kind of toothpaste helps remove surface stains, showing off the natural appearance of the exterior of your teeth. It will not actually whiten the enamel itself, but merely reveal its true color. For deep stains and/or for teeth that are yellowed or otherwise discolored, talk to your dentist about professional whitening.

And before you start even a DIY tooth whitening program, it’s a good idea to see a dentist and get a deep cleaning. That way, your at-home whitening efforts can be more of a maintenance approach than an attempt to tackle the issue of stained, discolored teeth. 

As for which whitening toothpaste is right for you, that depends on factors ranging from tooth sensitivity to ingredient preference to how much time you’re willing to invest daily. 

Here are the best whitening toothpaste options:

Best whitening toothpaste overall

colgate

Colgate Optic White Platinum Express White Toothpaste is safe for daily use, affordable, and you’ll see results in three days.

Pros: Works quickly, safe for long-term use, includes fluoride to prevent cavities

Cons: Slightly more expensive 

The job of toothpaste is, first and foremost, to clean your teeth. While white, bright teeth look great, actual cleaning is more important than cosmetics, as far as oral health is concerned. So it’s good to know that Colgate’s Optic White Platinum toothpaste protects tooth enamel and can help prevent cavities thanks to the inclusion of fluoride along with the other ingredients.

As for the whitening effects of this potent toothpaste, those come thanks to hydrogen peroxide. The toothpaste has two times more hydrogen peroxide than most other kinds of whitening toothpaste. According to the many buyer reviews online, you really can see whitening results in just a matter of days, especially if you are generally careful about what foods and beverages you ingest and how you consume them.

After a month of using Colgate Optic White Platinum Express White Toothpaste twice daily, you can expect a marked lightening of your teeth. Results will probably plateau at that point, and you can shift into a maintenance mode.

Best for a deep clean

Crest

If you’re serious about oral hygiene, committing to the Crest 3D White Brilliance Teeth Whitening Two-Step System will give you very pearly whites.

Pros: Effective and long-lasting, provides excellent cleaning, breaks up stubborn stains

Cons: Requires double brushing, may lighten gums as well

The Crest 3D White Brilliance Teeth Whitening Two-Step System requires brushing your teeth twice — once with Step 1: Deep Cleansing Toothpaste, then with Step 2: Whitening Finisher — but it’s highly effective for whitening your teeth.

The first part of the two-step system is all about cleaning. The toothpaste contains a 0.454% concentration of stannous fluoride which helps fight cavities and gingivitis (gum disease, e.g.) and that will break up plaque and freshen breath. When you move to the second step, a gel that features hydrogen peroxide, you are applying a whitener to freshly cleaned teeth. 

The 3D White Brilliance system will cost you more than you’ll pay for most whitening toothpaste, and the process is a bit more involved, but it will dramatically whiten most teeth over time.

Best budget

arm and hammer

Not only does Arm & Hammer Advance White Extreme Whitening Toothpaste leave your mouth fresh and your teeth white, but it’s also affordable.

Pros: Great low price choice, baking soda acts as safe abrasive, suitable for perpetual use

Cons: Some people dislike taste

I’ve been an Arm & Hammer toothpaste user for more than a decade, and every time I switch brands (say during travel or when we forgot to restock and I have to dip into the reserve mini tubes collected from dentist’s visits) my mouth never feels quite as clean.

Arm & Hammer uses baking soda in all sorts of products, and in this case, that’s the ingredient that provides safe, gentle abrasion to help break up plaque and tartar (hardened plaque, essentially) and remove surface stains. Fluoride is on hand to help prevent cavities and to kill off bacteria, and peroxide helps whiten your teeth.

I was tempted to make this product the number one pick, as it’s surely number one in my book, but while many people love the feel and the aftertaste of this baking soda-based toothpaste, an equal number of people hate the taste, so it’s not right for everyone. 

Best for sensitive teeth

Sensodyne

Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste will whiten your teeth and make them less sensitive at the same time.

Pros: Ideal for sensitive teeth, rebuilds enamel over time, gently lifts stains

Cons: Whitens slowly

If your teeth are sensitive, it most likely means is that you have weakened enamel which is leaving the sensitive interior of your teeth overexposed. This is usually caused by exposure to the acids found in everything from citrus fruit to coffee to wine — the very same things that leave stains and damage the appearance of your smile.

For sensitive teeth that are also not as white as you’d like, Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste is a great choice. The formula is designed to help re-harden tooth enamel damaged by acids and to actively strengthen each tooth and prevent future damage. It is a low abrasion toothpaste, thus it won’t cause any enamel wear and tear itself, and it features fluoride to help fight off bacteria.

What this toothpaste does not feature is hydrogen peroxide, so it will not whiten as quickly as many other options. Rather than bleaching stains away, Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste takes a longer approach to whitening, helping restore and refresh your teeth and to slowly but reliably remove stains and prevent new ones from forming.

If you get your teeth to a healthy, resilient state in which they are ready for more intense whitening, go ahead and switch brands. If you have always had sensitive teeth, then consider makingSensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste your lifelong go-to choice.

Check out our other oral health buying guides

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The best toothpaste you can buy

Nobody likes going to the dentist, but if you take good care of your teeth between visits, the cleaning will go easier. We researched and tested many kinds of toothpaste to find the best ones you can buy.


The best natural toothpaste you can buy

Natural toothpaste formulas don’t have to be lacking in powerful ingredients or great flavor.


The best toothpaste for sensitive teeth you can buy

Don’t let tooth sensitivity make that hot cup of coffee or cold glass of water a misery to drink. You can treat your pain with a great toothpaste for sensitive teeth.


The best electric toothbrush you can buy

We want you to keep your teeth healthy and strong for a lifetime. That’s why we’ve done the research to bring you five electric toothbrushes that we feel are the best choices for the most people.

We visited the top consumer websites, listened to actual product owners, and considered advice from dentists and dental hygienists when making our decisions. So go ahead and break out your favorite toothpaste. Healthy, clean white teeth are on their way.


The best toothbrush you can buy

There’s plenty to be said for the classic manual toothbrush: It can’t run out of batteries and it’s compact, lightweight, and portable.

We chose a wide array of manual toothbrushes, from the low-cost disposable brush you keep on hand for guests to the Cadillac-level manual toothbrush that the classic oral hygiene aficionado will appreciate to unique options, like charcoal-infused toothbrushes that might just help bring out your brightest, whitest smile ever.

Read the original article on Business Insider