Safest Teeth Whiteners
The safest ways to whiten your teeth explained
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Teeth whitening strips are a popular and cost-effective way to whiten your teeth at home.
Most strips are made of a flexible plastic substance coated with a thin layer of bleaching gel. This gel is typically made of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.
These peroxides penetrate your enamel and reach the discolored molecules inside your teeth. The whitening agent's oxygen molecules interact with the discolored teeth molecules, gently lifting stains.
Carbamide peroxide breaks down slower than hydrogen peroxide, so it usually produces less post-whitening sensitivity.
Everything We Recommend
Best Overall: Hismile PAP+ Whitening Strips™
Also Great: Crest 3D Whitestrips Glamorous White
Best for Sensitive Teeth: Crest 3D Whitestrips Sensitive
Best Dissolving: Snow Magic Strips®
Best All-Inclusive Whitening Pack: Spotlight Oral Care Whitening Starter Bundle
Best for Peroxide-Allergy: Lumineux Teeth Whitening Strips
Best Affordable Option: BURST Teeth Whitening Strips with Soothing Coconut Oil
Natural whitening strips do not contain peroxide or artificial chemicals. Instead, they use botanicals and essential oils to lift stains gradually.
As you apply whitening strips to your top and bottom teeth, the gel firmly presses against them. It is held in place by plastic strips to prevent slipping.
You’ll leave the strips on for up to 30 minutes (depending on the brand). During this time, the gel penetrates your tooth enamel, gradually lifting stains and brightening your smile.
Depending on how discolored your teeth are, you may need to apply the whitening strips daily for two to three weeks. After the desired shade is achieved, you only have to use them every once in a while to maintain brightness.
Disclaimer: NewMouth recommends LED teeth whitening kits over whitening strips. While more expensive, LED kits typically provide faster results and don't need to be used as often. Hismile PAP+ Teeth Whitening Kit and Snow® Teeth Whitening Kit are two great options.
All of the products below have been reviewed and endorsed by Dr. Khushbu Aggarwal, one of NewMouth's experienced dentists.
Aside from clinical dentistry, Dr. Aggarwal also consults for several different organizations, including Dr. Clobo and Kaplan. She obtained her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 2014 from UCLA School of Dentistry and completed a one-year general dentistry residency in a hospital setting.
Here are her recommendations for the best whitening strips:
Hismile's PAP+ teeth whitening strips are peroxide-free, so they don't irritate your gums or cause tooth sensitivity.
The strips contain three enamel-safe ingredients to provide almost instant whitening 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.
The easy-to-apply strips only have to be used for 30 minutes daily to see results. Crest also claims the strips will remove 10 years of stains for a whiter smile.
This product is enamel-safe and uses Advanced Seal Technology. This no-slip feature helps the strips mold to the shape of your teeth. It also allows you to drink water and talk while whitening your teeth.
Crest 3D Whitestrips Sensitive is a great alternative if you have extra sensitive teeth and gums. The enamel-safe formula is specially designed for sensitive teeth and provides a gentler at-home whitening experience. This product also has the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
The strips mold to the shape of your teeth, which helps prevent slipping. These Whitestrips are also easy to use. You can talk, walk, work, and even drink water while whitening your teeth.
The kit includes 14 teeth whitening treatments, each with one upper and one lower strip. For best results, apply the strips once a day for 30 minutes.
Dissolving whitening strips are a newer concept, and Snow is one of the first brands to release this product.
Unlike normal whitening strips, dissolving strips are not removed from your teeth after 15 to 30 minutes. Snow's Magic Strips dissolve in your mouth after just 15 minutes.
Snow's new patented P3 Technology® also claims to whiten more effectively than other dissolvable whitening strips.
The strips come in a lavender mint flavor and include 28 per pack.
Zimba Teeth Whitening Strips include 28 enamel-safe whitening strips (14 full treatments). The brand claims your teeth will be up to six shades whiter after the full treatment is complete.
The whitening strip's active ingredient is hydrogen peroxide, which has been shown to lift surface stains effectively.
In addition, Zimba Teeth Whitening Strips come in many different flavors. The most popular include mint, peach, coconut, cinnamon, and spearmint. These flavors come from naturally-derived ingredients like menthol and coconut oil.
For best results, use the whitening strips for 14 consecutive days. The whitening effects have been observed to last for 6+ months.
Read our complete review of Zimba teeth whitening products
The Spotlight Whitening Starter Bundle is an excellent option if you are looking for an all-in-one whitening routine at an affordable cost.
The whitening strips lift stains using active ingredients like hydrogen peroxide. The whitening products are also sulfate, BPA, DEA, gluten, sulfate, paraben, and triclosan-free. This means you’ll have visibly whiter teeth without the potentially harmful effects of chemicals.
This kit includes:
Spotlight Oral Care is a newer company that sells dental health and whitening products. Although new, the brand has hundreds of 5-star reviews across multiple websites.
Best for Peroxide-Allergy or Sensitivity
Lumineux Teeth Whitening Strips are certified non-toxic, vegan, enamel-safe, SLS-free, peroxide-free, sugar-free, preservative-free, and dentist formulated. They also claim to whiten your teeth without sensitivity or discomfort.
These whitening strips are a great alternative if you are allergic to peroxide, alcohol, or other chemicals. However, they might not whiten your teeth as effectively as peroxide-containing products.
Lumineux’s whitening formula includes sage, coconut, and lemon peel oil. These naturally-derived ingredients freshen your breath, help remove plaque, and gently brighten teeth over time.
Best Affordable Option
BURST whitening strips contain coconut oil for a soothing and sensitivity-fighting whitening experience. The product is endorsed and recommended by more than 25,000 dental professionals. Among these is Dr. Khushbu Aggarwal, one of NewMouth's in-house dentists.
The brand recommends completing 14 treatments in a row for the best results. These whitening strips are also more affordable than many leading products on the market, and most reviews are very positive.
Whitening strips are generally an effective, safe, and convenient way to whiten your teeth. You also don’t have to spend a lot of money trying to brighten your smile.
Despite these benefits, whitening strips have both pros and cons:
Most directions for whitening strips consist of the same basic steps. Make sure you read the instructions carefully before applying, as they can vary.
In general, this is how you should apply whitening strips:
Whitening strips that contain hydrogen or carbamide peroxide have been shown to whiten teeth over time.1, 2, 3 When the manufacturer's instructions are followed, peroxide-based teeth whitening products are safe to use.1
According to Dr. Casey Lau, the Chief Dental Officer at Elims, the benefit of using hydrogen peroxide is that most of its whitening power occurs within the first 30 minutes. Carbamide peroxide breaks down into hydrogen peroxide and urea, but its whitening powers usually take longer.
Over long periods of time, hydrogen peroxide at high doses can damage enamel. However, many studies have been done with hydrogen peroxide in dental products which showed that it is perfectly safe if used the correct way.Dr. Casey Lau
The real issue with hydrogen peroxide is that it is an oxidant that can irritate your gums if used incorrectly. It is an antiseptic that kills bacteria and has been used to treat gum disease. But when the treatment times are really long, it can damage tissues.
Some side effects of whitening strips include:
In addition to hydrogen or carbamide peroxide, the following ingredients are commonly found in whitening strips:
Do not use whitening strips if you have:
Whitening strips are safe for fillings, crowns, veneers, and other restorations but will not whiten them like your natural teeth.
If you are allergic to peroxide, all-natural whitening strips are available. These alternatives are not as effective at removing stains. However, they can help remove plaque and debris and improve bad breath, which ultimately enhances the color and health of your teeth.
Read below to learn how whitening strips compare to other popular whitening treatments:
|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||2 hours 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|
LED teeth whitening kits incorporate a special light that has been shown to speed up the whitening process. Whitening strips do not use a light.
Remember that an LED light will not whiten your teeth if used alone. It helps speed up the bleaching process when combined with a whitening agent (peroxide). When this interaction occurs, the blue LED light penetrates your tooth enamel and removes stains.
One study found that an LED light reduced treatment time and sensitivity by 53 percent.4 It took the non-light group over two hours to achieve the desired whiteness. The LED light group saw the same results after 72 minutes.4
Although LED whitening kits can lift teeth stains quickly, they are more expensive and time-consuming to use (up to $200 per kit). Whitening strips cost between $20 and $50 for 14 or more treatments.
Professional whitening occurs in a dental office, where you’ll be closely monitored for a pain-free and controlled whitening experience. Whitening strips are used at your discretion and have a higher risk for side effects (e.g., tooth sensitivity and gum irritation).
Unlike at-home whitening systems that use low-dose whitening agents, dentists are trained to use higher-dose bleaching agents, providing visible results immediately.
For example, over-the-counter whitening strips typically have a peroxide concentration of 6 to 14 percent (sometimes more). Professional, in-office whitening gels contain between 15 and 43 percent peroxide.
In-office whitening takes about an hour to complete. Your teeth will be two to three shades lighter in just one visit. And the best part is that you’ll only need retouches every six months. Whitening strips require more upkeep, and you won’t see results immediately.
Conversely, professional whitening is much more expensive (between $500 and $1,500 per treatment). Whitening strips cost between $20 and $50 for 14 or more treatments.
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