Teeth whitening is the process of removing stains from your teeth and brightening your smile.
Tooth whitening is safe and effective when the manufacturer’s protocol is followed or performed by a dental professional.
Though whitening is safe, there are still some risks that users should know. Temporary tooth sensitivity and gingival inflammation are the most common adverse effects of teeth whitening.
Best Overall (Editor's Pick) — Snow All-In-One Whitening Kit
Fastest Results — GLO Brilliant Teeth Whitening Kit
Best on a Budget — AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Kit
Best Whitening Strips — Crest 3D Whitestrips Glamorous White
Best Whitening Option for Travel — AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Pen
Best Whitestrips for Sensitive Teeth — Crest 3D Whitestrips Sensitive Teeth Whitening Kit
Best Non-Peroxide Whitening Kit — Lumineux Oral Essentials Teeth Whitening Kit
Best Whitening Toothpaste — Colgate Optic White Advanced Whitening Toothpaste
Best Whitening Mouthwash — Colgate Optic White Whitening Mouthwash
Best All-in-One Whitening Brand — Colgate Optic White Advanced LED Whitening
Many factors can cause teeth stains, including:
There are a few ways to whiten your teeth safely and effectively from the comfort of home:
You should also eat more foods that brighten your teeth, including:
Teeth whitening is only safe for patients with good dental hygiene. If you have cavities, gum disease, or other oral health conditions, refrain from using whitening products.
Before using DIY teeth whitening methods, you should first talk to your dentist about what teeth whitening options are best for you.
Activated charcoal is not proven to be safe or effective for teeth whitening. The American Dental Association has not given activated charcoal its Seal of Acceptance, which certifies a treatment is safe to use and is recommended by dentists.
Not only has charcoal not been proven safe, but it might also damage your teeth.
Charcoal is abrasive and can erode enamel, which is irreversible. If the charcoal erodes too much of your enamel, it makes your teeth look more yellow. This is because thinning enamel reveals more of the inner dentin, which is darker.
Enamel loss can lead to increased sensitivity and susceptibility to dental decay.
Turmeric is not recommended for teeth whitening because it has not been certified as a safe or effective method. The American Dental Association has not given turmeric its Seal of Acceptance, which authorizes a treatment as safe for use.
There is limited data on turmeric’s efficacy as a natural whitening product. However, turmeric is an astringent, which may impact tooth enamel and health. And in one study, turmeric created no difference in teeth color.
The safest and most effective way to whiten your teeth is with professional teeth whitening treatments. These methods provide instant results and are completed in a dentist's office. However, professional whitening is expensive, making it less desirable for many people.
Instead, NewMouth recommends at-home whitening products that contain safe levels of peroxide. Products containing either hydrogen or carbamide peroxide are safe and effective teeth whitening agents.
At-home teeth bleaching products typically contain 5 to 10 percent hydrogen peroxide or 35 percent carbamide peroxide. They are applied for 10 to 30 minutes for multiple days in a row.
Using at-home whitening products that contain higher levels of peroxide can lead to increased sensitivity and gum irritation.
Here are the best (and safest) at-home whitening products recommended by NewMouth:
Best Overall & Best for Sensitive Teeth
This dentist-approved teeth whitening kit was designed for sensitive teeth and is safe for gums and enamel.
Each whitening application only takes 9 minutes per day. According to Snow’s website, 97 percent of customers see results after just one use (consumer study).
This teeth whitening kit was designed by a top NYC aesthetic dentist, Dr. Jonathan B. Levine DMD, PC. It features ingredients that are vegan, gluten-free, latex-free, and, cruelty-free.
GLO Brilliant uses LED lights as well as heat to give you faster results. This kit is for people who want white teeth quickly. Applications only take 8 minutes.
They suggest completing four back-to-back applications each day for five straight days, or until you’re pleased with the results. This is a fast and effective whitening process, but it is the most expensive item on our list.
AuraGlow uses cool LED whitening technology with 5 built-in bulbs and comes with a built-in timer to keep track of whitening.
AuraGlow’s organic teeth whitening gel is made with gluten-free and vegan-friendly ingredients and features 35% carbamide peroxide as a bleaching agent for professional-grade results.
This teeth whitening kit allows you to whiten your teeth hands-free with a comfort-fit tray, which makes it easy to whiten your teeth for 30 minutes per day.
The Crest 3D Professional Effects 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.
Best Whitestrips for Sensitive Teeth
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.
Best Non-Peroxide Whitening Kit
Lumineux Oral Essentials were developed utilizing coconut oil, lemon peel oil, sage oil, and dead sea salt to remove stains from your teeth instead of bleach (hydrogen peroxide).
They were developed with dental professionals and are non-toxic, SLS-free, preservative-free, sugar-free, and vegan. Apply the strips for 30 minutes every day and see results in 7+ days.
Lumineux’s Teeth Whitening Kit includes:
Best Whitening Toothpaste
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.
Best Whitening Mouthwash
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.
Best All-in-One Whitening Brand
This LED whitening kit was designed to reduce sensitivity and uses enamel-safe ingredients.
If you prefer to use 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, only takes 10 minutes, and doesn’t require a smartphone to use it, making it easy to apply.
To protect your pearly whites from becoming discolored, you should:
For a whiter smile, you should limit your intake of foods that stain the surfaces of your teeth, including:
Risks commonly reported with teeth whitening include tooth sensitivity and gingival irritation. The severity of these side effects is directly connected to the concentration of peroxide bleach used and the duration of treatment.
While limited data is available on the effects of LED light in dentistry, studies have shown that light sources have little effect on teeth sensitivity.
“7 Dentist-Approved Tips to Safely Whiten Your Teeth.” Loma Linda University News, Loma Linda University, https://news.llu.edu/patient-care/7-dentist-approved-tips-safely-whiten-your-teeth
Brucculieri, Julia. “That Trendy Charcoal Toothpaste Might Not Be So Great For Your Teeth.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 17 July 2018, www.huffpost.com/entry/negative-effects-of-charcoal-toothpaste_n_5b460487e4b07aea754647e4#:~:text=The%20potentially%20harmful%20effects%20of,increased%20susceptibility%20to%20dental%20decay
Carey, Clifton M. “Tooth whitening: what we now know.” The journal of evidence-based dental practice vol. 14 Suppl (2014): 70-6. doi:10.1016/j.jebdp.2014.02.006 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4058574/#:~:text=Risks%20commonly%20reported%20with%20tooth,composition%20of%20the%20product%20used.
Donahue, Kayleigh. “How to Whiten Your Teeth: 17 Ways to Brighten Your Smile.” Allure, Conde Nast, www.allure.com/story/whiten-your-teeth
“Factors Causing Tooth Discoloration.” Oral Health Care Zone for Grown-Ups, Government of Hong Kong, www.toothclub.gov.hk/en/en_adu_01_05_02_02.html
“Fluorosis.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8 Mar. 2019, www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/faqs/dental_fluorosis/index.htm
Guglielmetti, Petra. “How to Make Your Teeth Whiter-Fast.” Glamour, Conde Nast, www.glamour.com/story/how-to-whiten-teeth-fast
Kellogg, Kristi, et al. “How to Get Your Teeth Hollywood White.” GQ, Conde Nast, www.gq.com/story/how-to-whiten-your-teeth
Rosmarin, Remi. “We Asked an Orthodontist If It's Safe to Use Crest Whitestrips as an at-Home Teeth-Whitening Treatment - Here's What They Said.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 6 July 2020, www.businessinsider.com/are-crest-whitestrips-safe-good-to-use
Peixoto, Aline Carvalho et al. “High-concentration carbamide peroxide can reduce the sensitivity caused by in-office tooth bleaching: a single-blinded randomized controlled trial.” Journal of applied oral science : revista FOB vol. 26 (2018): e20170573. doi:10.1590/1678-7757-2017-0573 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6007969/
“Seal Product Shopping List.” American Dental Association, American Dental Association, www.ada.org/en/science-research/ada-seal-of-acceptance/ada-seal-shopping-list
Siclait, Aryelle. “Dentist-Approved Whitening Mouthwashes That'll Make A Noticeable Difference In Your Smile.” Women's Health, Hearst, 3 Mar. 2021, www.womenshealthmag.com/beauty/g35031835/best-whitening-mouthwash/
“Tooth - Abnormal Colors: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003065.htm
“What Causes Discolored Teeth and Is There Any Way to Cure or Prevent Staining?” Tufts Now, Tufts University, 18 Mar. 2016, https://now.tufts.edu/articles/what-causes-discolored-teeth-and-there-any-way-cure-or-prevent-staining
“Whitening.” American Dental Association, American Dental Association, www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/whitening