Dentistry
Cosmetic
Product Reviews
Updated on November 23, 2022

Safest Ways to Whiten Teeth

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Is Teeth Whitening Safe?

Teeth whitening is the process of removing stains from your teeth and brightening your smile.

Teeth whitening treatments include in-office bleaching, dentist-grade products for at-home use, and over-the-counter (OTC) whiteners. Whitening is safe and effective when the manufacturer’s protocol is followed or performed by a dental professional.

Our Top Recommendations

Best Overall (Editor's Pick)Snow All-In-One Whitening Kit

Best for Sensitivity — Hismile VIO405™ Teeth Whitening Kit

Fastest Results GLO Brilliant Teeth Whitening Kit

Best on a Budget AuraGlow Teeth Whitening KitAuraGlow Teeth Whitening Kit

Best Whitening StripsCrest 3D Whitestrips Glamorous White

Although safe, there are still some risks to be aware of. Temporary tooth sensitivity and gingival inflammation are the most common adverse effects of teeth whitening.

Whitening Group

According to a study published in the Journal of Dentistry, teeth are damaged more by higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide applied over long periods.4

Therefore, small amounts of peroxide applied for a short time (for example, two minutes while brushing your teeth) are relatively harmless.

"Most toothpastes contain 1 to 3% hydrogen peroxide, whereas professional treatments, such as Zoom, contain up to 25%. Because professional whitening treatments contain much higher concentrations, it is important to undergo professional teeth whitening under the supervision of a qualified professional, such as your dentist."

Dr. Chris Lewandowski, DDS, PC Princess Center Dentistry Owner, Cosmetic Dentist

What Causes Tooth Discoloration?

Tooth stains are commonly caused by dark foods and beverages. This includes tea, coffee, red wine, curry powder, tomato sauce, and dark-colored berries. Poor oral hygiene, cavities, and infections can also lead to staining.

Other potential causes include:

  • Genetics
  • Too much fluoride (leading to white spots)
  • Tobacco use
  • Trauma
  • Aging
  • Certain antibiotics (tetracycline, chlorhexidine, etc.)

How to Whiten Your Teeth Safely

There are a few ways to whiten your teeth safely and effectively from home. The most popular way is over-the-counter (OTC) products containing hydrogen or carbamide peroxide.

Some options include:

In-Office LED Kits Strips Toothpaste Mouthwash
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

Tips for Avoiding Stains

You can keep your teeth bright and healthy by practicing the following:

  • Brush and floss twice a day
  • Brush your tongue to remove bacteria
  • Use an electric toothbrush
  • Avoid or limit dark-colored foods and drinks
  • Rinse with water after drinking coffee or tea
  • Drink iced tea, iced coffee, juices, or other colored beverages through a straw
  • Don't smoke or use tobacco products
  • Eat high-fiber foods to reduce acid levels in your mouth
  • Chew sugarless gum to neutralize acids
  • Use a whitening pre-rinse before brushing
  • Get regular teeth cleanings (twice a year)

10 Best Teeth Whitening Products (for Enamel-Safe Whitening)

Here are the best (and safest) at-home whitening products recommended by NewMouth:

Snow Teeth Whitening

Best Overall (Editor's Pick)
Snow Teeth Whitening

This dentist-approved teeth whitening kit was designed for sensitive teeth. It is safe to use on both gums and enamel. Each whitening session takes just 9 minutes a day. According to their website, 97 percent of customers see results after just one use.

Snow’s unique, proprietary serum is specifically formulated to reduce sensitivity. This provides a painless experience for nearly all users. 

Snow was also voted as the "best teeth whitening kit for sensitive teeth" by Tuck.com in 2020. They are also the #1 recommended brand by Allure Magazine and Men's Health (2021), and have been featured in Elle, Good Housekeeping, and People Magazine. 

Cyber Week: Buy one, get one on devices

Hismile VIO405™ Teeth Whitening Kit

Best for Sensitivity
Hismile VIO405™ Teeth Whitening Kit

Hismile's teeth whitening kit uses three powerful, enamel-safe ingredients to provide instant results without any sensitivity:

  1. Hydroxyapatite (nHAp) rebuilds the protective layer of teeth and replaces lost minerals
  2. Phthalimidoperoxycaproicacid (PAP) is clinically proven to whiten teeth without sensitivity or gum irritation
  3. Potassium citrate helps relieve pre-existing sensitivity and provides long-term protection

Hismile is also peroxide-free. Peroxide is a bleaching agent that can cause sensitivity, gum irritation, and the demineralization of teeth.

One of our writers at NewMouth personally tested Hismile's teeth whitening kit. The main benefit is that it is very easy to use. It also doesn’t irritate your gums, cheeks, or tongue.

In terms of results, she noticed minor changes in tooth color after just one 10-minute session. The changes weren’t drastic, but they were noticeable. She also experienced zero sensitivity after the first use. 

Other whitening kits can cause irritation during and after treatment. This is especially true if the product has a high concentration of peroxide. But since Hismile doesn’t use peroxide, this wasn’t an issue. 

Another benefit of Hismile is the quick treatment time. You only have to use the kit for 10 minutes a day. Other brands require 30 to 45 minutes per session, often making the process more uncomfortable and messy.

Cyber Monday: up to 50% off SITEWIDE

GLO Brilliant Deluxe Teeth Whitening Device Kit

Fastest Results
GLO Brilliant Deluxe Teeth Whitening Device Kit

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 and 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 daily for 5 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 Teeth Whitening Kit

Best on a Budget
AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Kit

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, making it easy to whiten your teeth for 30 minutes daily.

Cyber Monday: Use code BFCM for 25% off sitewide 

Crest 3D Whitestrips Glamorous White

Best Whitening Strips
Crest 3D Whitestrips Glamorous White

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.

Honorable Mentions

Crest 3D Whitestrips Sensitive Teeth Whitening Kit

Best Whitestrips for Sensitive Teeth
Crest 3D Whitestrips Sensitive Teeth Whitening Kit

These whitening strips were developed to provide a comfortable at-home whitening experience. They are best for people who have sensitive teeth but still want to brighten their pearly whites.

These enamel-safe strips should be applied for 30 minutes daily.

Colgate Optic White Whitening Mouthwash

Best Whitening Mouthwash
Colgate Optic White 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.

Colgate Optic White Advanced LED Whitening

Best All-in-One Whitening Brand
Colgate Optic White Advanced LED Whitening

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.

Why You Can Trust NewMouth’s Reviews

Methodology

To determine the teeth whitening products available, the NewMouth editorial team analyzed dozens of different products on the market.

Our evaluation and recommendations are based on:. 

  1. Active ingredients and potency - 30% of total score
  2. Our own testing experience - 20% of total score
  3. Dentist input and experience - 15% of total score
  4. Effectiveness and side effects - 15% of total score
  5. Application method, ease of use and comfort - 10% of total score
  6. Affordability and value - 10% of total score

Our Qualifications

1. Teeth Whitening Experts

NewMouth is a leading and trusted online resource for dental information, including professional and at-home teeth whitening, how they compare, safety, and what to look for in products. 

We have a dedicated team of medical writers, expert researchers, licensed dental professionals, and medical reviewers who create and oversee every piece of content published on our site. 

2. Extensive Research and Testing

We determined the best teeth whitening products by:

  • Talking to three qualified dental professionals who specialize in teeth whitening
  • Spending 80+ hours researching the safest whitening products available, including ingredients lists, bleaching concentration levels, and other factors 
  • Reading through hundreds of customer reviews from multiple sources
  • Testing out many of the products listed in this article and writing individual reviews
  • Reading through 30+ research papers on the safety, effectiveness, and concerns of teeth whitening
3. Comprehensive Review Process

After extensive research and product testing, this article also underwent an intensive review process:

  1. The article was reviewed and fact-checked by two in-house editors 
  2. One of our in-house dentists reviewed the article for accuracy 
  3. The article is updated and reviewed again every month to ensure pricing, product details, and other specs are up-to-date

Is DIY Teeth Whitening Safe?

We asked an expert, Dr. Casey Lau, Chief Dental Officer of Elims, for his opinion on DIY teeth whitening remedies.

"Traditionally, you will see many DIY remedies like oil pulling, activated charcoal, baking soda, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar as anecdotal teeth whitening solutions," says Lau. "But some of these are pretty dangerous to your enamel."

Activated charcoal and baking soda are abrasives. So if they work at all, it's by scraping off stains that are caked on your teeth. They may scrape off healthy enamel as well. Lau adds that lemon juice and apple cider vinegar are acids that weaken and damage enamel.

Turmeric is also not recommended for teeth whitening. There is limited data on the spice's efficacy as a natural whitening product. However, turmeric is an astringent, which may improve enamel health.

What is the Most Effective Way to Whiten Teeth?

Professional teeth whitening treatments are the safest and most effective way to whiten your teeth. 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. As an alternative, we recommend at-home whitening products that contain safe levels of hydrogen or carbamide peroxide.

Safe, at-home bleaching products typically contain 5 to 10 percent hydrogen peroxide or 35 percent carbamide peroxide. They are applied for 10 to 45 minutes for multiple days in a row.

Potential Side Effects of Teeth Whitening

Risks commonly reported with teeth whitening include sensitivity and gum irritation. The severity of these side effects is directly connected to the concentration of peroxide used and the duration of treatment.

According to Dr. Lau, high doses of hydrogen peroxide can damage enamel over long periods. It is an oxidant that can irritate your gums if used incorrectly. HP is also an antiseptic, meaning it kills bacteria and has been used to treat gum disease. 

However, many studies have been done with hydrogen peroxide in dental products. They have routinely shown that it is safe when used correctly and in safe doses, says Lau.

Most of the issues occur with homemade whitening solutions. These often contain very high levels of peroxide, abrasive substances, and/or harmful acids like lemon juice.

16 Sources Cited
Last updated on November 23, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
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  2. Brucculieri, Julia. “That Trendy Charcoal Toothpaste Might Not Be So Great For Your Teeth.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 17 July 2018.
  3. Carey, Clifton M. “Tooth whitening: what we now know.” The journal of evidence-based dental practice vol. 14.
  4. Bistey, T, et al. "In vitro FT-IR study of the effects of hydrogen peroxide on superficial tooth enamel."
  5. Donahue, Kayleigh. “How to Whiten Your Teeth: 17 Ways to Brighten Your Smile.” Allure, Conde Nast.
  6. Factors Causing Tooth Discoloration.” Oral Health Care Zone for Grown-Ups, Government of Hong Kong.
  7. Fluorosis.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8 Mar. 2019.
  8. Guglielmetti, Petra. “How to Make Your Teeth Whiter-Fast.” Glamour, Conde Nast.
  9. Kellogg, Kristi, et al. “How to Get Your Teeth Hollywood White.” GQ, Conde Nast.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Seal Product Shopping List.” American Dental Association, American Dental Association.
  13. Siclait, Aryelle. “Dentist-Approved Whitening Mouthwashes That'll Make A Noticeable Difference In Your Smile.Women's Health, Hearst, 3 Mar. 2021.
  14. Tooth - Abnormal Colors: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  15. What Causes Discolored Teeth and Is There Any Way to Cure or Prevent Staining?Tufts Now, Tufts University, 18 Mar. 2016.
  16. Whitening.” American Dental Association, American Dental Association.
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