Safest Teeth Whiteners
The safest ways to whiten your teeth explained
Teeth inevitably become discolored over time, which is a natural part of aging. There are two types of tooth discoloration, including extrinsic and intrinsic staining.
Extrinsic tooth discoloration affects the outside of teeth. Certain foods and beverages such as tea, soda, red wine, dark berries, and coffee cause this type of discoloration. These stains can be easily removed with at-home whitening products.
Intrinsic discoloration develops on the inside of teeth. It can be caused by certain diseases and medical treatments (like chemotherapy), genetics, trauma, medications, and aging. These stains are more difficult to remove and typically require professional teeth whitening.
Fortunately, there are many ways to whiten your teeth without having to give up your favorite foods.
People spend $3.2 billion on teeth whitening treatments worldwide.
Depending on your needs, budget, and level of discoloration, some common teeth whitening options include:
Whitening strips, such as Crest Whitestrips, make your teeth look whiter over time. They must be used consistently to see results.
Whitening strips contain a gel that is spread along the strip. This strip is placed onto the surface of your teeth for about 30 minutes. The gel is made of carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide, which works to penetrate your tooth enamel and remove stains.
Whitening toothpaste and mouthwash contain small amounts of peroxide. These products can effectively lighten teeth, but only about one or two shades.
Whitening toothpaste can also be abrasive if overused, which can lead to enamel erosion or dentin exposure. Only use whitening toothpaste once a week or less to prevent these effects.
Natural teeth whitening products do not use peroxide or chemicals to whiten teeth. These whitening products come in the form of toothpaste, mouthwash, gels, and strips. They usually contain essential oils, botanicals, and other natural ingredients to lift stains over time.
Natural whitening treatments do not cause sensitivity (because they don’t contain carbamide peroxide) or increase your risk for tooth decay. This makes them a popular option among people who want to live a more toxin-free lifestyle.
In addition to cleaner ingredients, natural whitening products are vegan, cruelty-free, fluoride-free, latex-free, sulfate-free, paraben-free, and gluten-free. They are also naturally sweetened with safer sugar alcohols, such as xylitol.
LED teeth whitening kits are becoming more popular, and there are many brands to choose from today. These kits are also more effective than other at-home whitening solutions (e.g., whitening strips, toothpaste, and mouthwash).
An LED light alone will not change the color of your teeth. It helps speed up the whitening process when combined with a tooth-whitening agent. When this interaction occurs, the blue LED light penetrates the enamel and lifts stains.
Whitening pens are ideal for people on the go. These compact whitening pens can fit in your bag, and only require a few minutes a day of whitening. They are also relatively inexpensive.
While convenient, whitening pens must be used consistently to maintain results. You can also use them in combination with LED whitening kits or other products to keep your smile bright.
|Cost||$262 to $1,180||$50 to $300||$10 to $50||$3 to $15||$2 to $10|
|Peroxide Level||20 to 40%||10 to 20%||5 to 15%||up to 5%||up to 2%|
|Time||1 hour per session||10 to 45 min per session||30 minutes per session||2 minutes a day||30 seconds a day|
|Upkeep||Every 6 months to a year||A few times a month||A few times a month||Daily or a few times a week||Daily or a few times a week|
|Sensitivity||Moderate risk, temporary||Moderate risk, temporary||Moderate risk, temporary||Low risk, temporary||Low risk, temporary|
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The NewMouth team put together a list of the 10 best at-home teeth whiteners available in 2021. These products include a mixture of professional-grade and all-natural solutions.
Best Overall (Editor's Pick)
A Snow® teeth whitening product is sold every 47 seconds, and this kit is their #1 bestseller.
The Snow At-Home Teeth Whitening Kit offers quick whitening results guaranteed with 99.3 percent ratings across 500,000+ customers.
This teeth whitening system delivers professional-grade whitening. The serum is also enamel-safe for those with sensitive gums and teeth. Snow claims that you will notice dramatically whiter teeth after just 21 days of use (9-minute application).
hismile's teeth whitening kit uses three powerful, enamel-safe ingredients to provide instant results without any sensitivity:
hismile is also peroxide-free. Peroxide as a bleaching agent can cause sensitivity, gum irritation, and the demineralization of teeth.
GLO Brilliant is an innovative and clinically proven whitening device. It combines blue LED light, a special bleaching gel, and professional heat. This combination provides fast, visible results without pain or sensitivity.
GLO’s bleaching gel is alcohol and carbamide peroxide-free (two common causes of sensitivity).
The LED mouthpiece is made with G.L.O. (Guided Light Optics) Technology, which gently warms up the whitening gel on your teeth. This speeds up the whitening process and gives you noticeably brighter teeth after just five uses.
AuraGlow is an easy-to-use home tooth whitening system that uses an advanced 35% carbamide peroxide whitening solution and led lights to give you whiter teeth.
There are approximately 20 treatments included. Use daily for 30 minutes to remove discoloration and gain optimal brightening results.
The Crest 3DWhite Glamorous White Whitestrips Kit contains 16 full whitening treatments. This includes 14 regular whitening treatments (one upper and one lower strip) and two one-hour express treatments. The one-hour express strips reveal same-day results for a visibly whiter smile.
Crest 3D White Whitestrips have the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance, which means they are safe and effective when used correctly.
Best Whitening Option for Travel
The AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Pen will deliver results when you’re traveling or on the go. You can coat your teeth quickly and easily with the ergonomic design. However, we suggest using the AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Kit to increase the whitening effects of this treatment.
These Whitestrips were developed to provide a comfortable at-home whitening experience for people who have tooth sensitivity but still want to brighten their pearly whites. These enamel-safe strips get applied for 30 minutes daily.
The product contains 2 percent hydrogen peroxide, which dentists recommend for whitening. It also contains fluoride to protect against cavities.
Whitening toothpaste is not as effective at whitening your teeth as LED kits or Whitestrips. But it can help remove and prevent surface stains. Therefore it should be used in addition to one of these other methods.
Colgate Optic White Whitening Mouthwash contains 2 percent Hydrogen Peroxide. This can slightly help remove surface stains. However, whitening results from mouth rinse alone will not be as effective as an LED whitening kit or Whitestrips.
Because it does help prevent new stains, whitening mouthwash is best used in addition to another whitening product.
This LED whitening kit was designed to reduce sensitivity and uses enamel-safe ingredients. If you're a fan of using the same brand for every step of your oral health routine, you can use Colgate whitening toothpaste, mouthwash, and LED kit.
This kit can be used hands-free and doesn’t require a smartphone to use it, making it easy to apply.
Colgate Optic White Advanced LED Whitening only takes 10 minutes a day for 10 days to see results. It is clinically proven to deliver brighter teeth up to 6 shades whiter.
Sensitivity caused by whitening is typically mild and nothing to worry about. But if you experience severe sensitivity, you may be overusing whitening products.
"Over long periods of time, hydrogen peroxide at high doses can damage enamel," says Dr. Casey Lau, the Chief Dental Officer at Elims. "However, many studies have been done with hydrogen peroxide in dental products which showed that it is perfectly safe if used the correct way."
Some whitening toothpastes are highly abrasive and should not be used for more than 4 weeks. Doing so can lead to enamel erosion and damage. Abrasive particles like charcoal-based products are also not effective for whitening. They only remove stained plaque and do not penetrate the enamel.
Instead, choose a whitening toothpaste that contains enzymes such as papain and bromelain. These enzymes are more effective at reducing naturally occurring stains than abrasive pastes.
In addition to sensitivity, other possible side effects of teeth whitening include:
Note: these side effects can occur if you do not follow the manufacturer’s instructions. You may also have an allergic reaction, which can cause gum irritation.
Sensitivity tends to disappear within a few days of whitening. The sensation is typically the most intense during the first day. However, if you have naturally sensitive teeth, you may notice the effects for longer than a week.
Here are some tips for managing sensitive teeth before, during, and after whitening treatment:
The first step is to make sure you only buy sensitivity-reducing whitening products. These treatments typically contain lower concentrations of hydrogen peroxide and other ingredients specifically designed for sensitive teeth.
Peroxide-free whitening products also do not cause sensitivity. But they are less effective.
If you use an at-home whitening kit, only use a small amount of whitening gel to cover each tooth. Applying too much gel makes your teeth more sensitive. It will not result in quicker or more effective whitening. Using whitening gel in excess can also cause gum irritation.
Also, read the instructions carefully. Treatment duration and the amount of whitening gel needed vary from product to product. Overusing whitening gels increases the risk of sensitivity.
If you notice that the recommended treatment duration is too long, try shortening the sessions. This way you can see if the sensitivity is less severe.
Rinse your mouth and brush your teeth after each whitening session to remove any excess gel. Use lukewarm water and a soft-bristled toothbrush.
Avoid consuming hot and cold drinks directly after whitening. These drinks can stimulate nerve endings and increase pain. Avoiding coffee and tea can also help your whitening results last longer.
You can also ask your dentist to recommend a prescription-strength gel or toothpaste to help reduce any sensitivity. Over-the-counter toothpaste that contains potassium nitrate can help with sensitivity.
Choosing the best at-home whitening product depends on your needs, lifestyle, and budget. If you are looking for a quick and affordable solution, whitening strips or on-the-go whitening pens may be the best option.
If you want a deeper whitening experience and have time for regular upkeep, an LED whitening kit is the perfect solution. While more expensive, these kits provide effective whitening and will give you a brighter smile quicker than over-the-counter products.
Professional teeth whitening is also available. These treatments are more effective than at-home LED whitening but cost $500 to $1,200 per treatment. However, the results can last for months. Contact your dentist’s office to determine if in-office whitening is for you.