Tooth discoloration is a normal part of life. Your teeth can stain and turn yellow over time for many reasons, including lifestyle, diet, and genetic factors.
For example, 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, if you want whiter teeth, you don't have to cut out your favorite foods and drinks. This is because there are many effective teeth whitening products to choose from today. From whitening strips to all-in-one LED whitening kits, you can lighten your teeth quickly from the comfort of home.
Popular teeth whitening products include:
Best Overall Whitening Kit — Snow At-Home Teeth Whitening All-in-One Kit
Best for Sensitivity — hismile PAP+ Teeth Whitening Kit™
Fastest Results — Glo Brilliant Teeth Whitening Device
Best on a Budget — AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Kit
Best for Travel — AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Pen
Best Whitening Strips — Crest 3D Whitestrips Glamorous White
Best Whitening Strips for Sensitive Teeth — Crest 3D Whitestrips Sensitive Teeth
Best Whitening Toothpaste — Colgate Optic White Advanced Whitening Toothpaste
Best Whitening Mouthwash — Colgate Optic White Whitening Mouthwash
Best All-in-One Whitening Brand — Colgate LED Whitening Kit
People spend $3.2 billion on teeth whitening treatments worldwide. These treatments 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.
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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).
One study found that using an LED light decreased tooth sensitivity and treatment time by 53 percent compared to those who didn’t use a light (2). In the study, both groups used a 35 percent hydrogen peroxide bleaching agent. It took the non-light group 135 minutes to reach the desired whiteness. The LED light group achieved the same results after only 72 minutes.
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.
LED lights are not the same as ultraviolet (UV) lights, which can cause the mutation of cells. An LED light does not raise the same risks (like cancer). It simply speeds up the whitening reaction, making your teeth whiter in half the time.
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.
Whitening gels are also compact and great for travel. They contain either hydrogen or carbamide peroxide to whiten teeth. You can use the gel on its own or mix it with equal parts toothpaste. Brush your teeth for two minutes and rinse as normal.
Tooth sensitivity is the most common side effect of whitening treatment. Sensitivity occurs because the dentin layer of your teeth is exposed during the bleaching process (5). Dentin is the layer below your enamel (the white layer covering your teeth).
Sensitivity caused by whitening is typically mild and nothing to worry about. However, if you experience severe sensitivity, you may be overusing at-home whitening products.
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 (6). 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. They destroy the tooth film where bacteria and stains form.
If you still experience sensitivity, try switching to an LED whitening kit or natural whitening products. These solutions are ideal for people with very sensitive teeth.
In addition to sensitivity, other possible side effects of at-home 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.
"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."
According to 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, so it actually kills bacteria and has been used in the treatment of gum disease. But when the treatment times are really long, it can damage tissues.
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Here are the top three things to look for in at-home teeth whitening products:
Teeth whitening products that list hydrogen or carbamide peroxide as the main active ingredient are the most effective.
Hydrogen peroxide solutions whiten your teeth by oxidizing them. Most treatments do not cause significant changes in tooth enamel.
At-home teeth bleaching products that contain 5 to 10 percent hydrogen peroxide or 35 percent carbamide peroxide are considered safe. Make sure you follow the instructions as directed and don't overuse the gels.
Also, watch out for irritants. Some whitening products contain harsh chemicals that can cause allergic reactions.
Whitening products that come with simple instructions and an easy application process are typically the best options.
The easier a product is to use, the more likely you’ll use it consistently to achieve and maintain results.
At-home treatments are cheaper than in-office options. And although the price point of these products may be appealing, it isn’t always best to choose the cheapest product.
It is essential to read reviews and conduct your own research to ensure you’re getting the best product for your needs.
All medical content on this site, including this guide and other product reviews, is written by our team of experienced writers and researchers. All NewMouth writers vet products that are recommended and reviewed in the industry. In cases where this is not possible, our team will:
Every piece of content is heavily reviewed before publication. All content on NewMouth is also medically reviewed by a licensed dentist, specifically any content where we recommend products. Our dentists are specifically instructed to flag any recommendations they don’t agree with. Any products that don’t meet their professional standards are removed.
Many of the products we recommend have the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. These products are proven to be effective in preventing gum disease, cavities, and other oral health conditions.
When we recommend products that do not include this seal of acceptance, we conduct further research to ensure reputability. This may include speaking with company leaders, reading hundreds of customer reviews, and ensuring they provide quality customer service.
The NewMouth team did hours of research looking through consumer and expert reviews of the products in this article. Some team members also did personal testing for a few of the products.
Based on this information, we have determined that the teeth whitening products listed below are safe, easy to use, and effective:
Snow All-In-One LED Teeth Whitening Kit is the #1 bestseller with thousands of five-star reviews. It offers quick whitening results with minimal sensitivity.
The serum is vegan, cruelty-free, enamel-safe, and gluten-free. You can expect noticeably whiter teeth after just three weeks of use (9-minute applications). However, some customers mention seeing results sooner.
According to Snow’s website, 97 percent of customers see results after just one use. One hundred percent see results after three weeks.
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* Snow is the best whitening kit overall because it has a 99.3% average rating across 500,000+ customers.
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.
* One of NewMouth’s writers personally tested this whitening kit. It caused the least sensitivity of all products and only took two 10-minute treatments to see results.
GLO Brilliant is an innovative and clinically proven teeth whitening device. It combines blue LED light and professional elements of heat. This provides fast, visible results without pain or sensitivity.
Each GLO vial has enough serum for four applications (one full cycle of treatment). The GLO Brilliant kit includes 10 whitening G-Vials, which will last for 40 applications (10 full treatments).
The GLO Brilliant Teeth Whitening Device has also received two prestigious Edison Awards. The Edison Awards is an annual competition honoring excellence in new product development.
* One of NewMouth’s writers personally tested this whitening kit. She determined that the best part about GLO is that it causes minimal sensitivity. The serum doesn’t taste too strong and has a pleasant mint flavor. The kit is also capable of whitening teeth after just five uses.
AuraGlow is one of the most affordable whitening kits available.
This teeth whitening kit comes with an LED light and comfort fit trays that are used to whiten your top and bottom teeth. The light has a 10-minute timer to keep track of whitening.
The whitening gel contains 35 percent carbamide peroxide, close to the peroxide level used in professional whitening treatments. It is also vegan, gluten-free, and cruelty-free.
The kit contains 20 treatments for 20 days of whitening. For best results, use AuraGlow for 30 minutes a day.
* Reviewers say the LED kit is inexpensive and provides whitening results after just a few uses. However, some also mention that the light breaks easily and the batteries need to be replaced often.
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.
* Reviewers mention that the results are gradual and consistency is important. After you reach the desired shade, you only need to use the whitening strips every few months to maintain your smile.
Best Whitening Pen for Travel
AuraGlow’s teeth whitening pens are the best way to whiten quickly. Simply twist the pen, brush the gel onto your teeth, and brighten your smile in under one minute.
These compact pens are designed for busy people. You can easily whiten your teeth at work, at the gym, or while on vacation. The pen fits virtually anywhere and allows you to whiten without a time commitment.
Each pen includes 15+ whitening treatments. For best results, use it twice a day. AuraGlow also offers a subscription service. You can get the pens delivered to your door every month and save 25 percent.
Reviewers mention seeing results after three days to a week. They also love the convenience of the pens.
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 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'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.
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.
(1) “ADA Seal of Acceptance: Bleaching Products.” Mouth Healthy TM.
(2) Bortolatto, Janaina F, et al. “Effects of LED–Laser Hybrid Light on Bleaching Effectiveness and Tooth Sensitivity: a Randomized Clinical Study.” Laser Physics Letters, vol. 10, no. 8, 2013, p. 085601.
(3) 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.
(4) “GLO Brilliant Teeth Whitening Device.” GLO Science, GLO Science.
(5) Markowitz, Kenneth. “Pretty Painful: Why Does Tooth Bleaching Hurt?” Medical Hypotheses, vol. 74, no. 5, 2010, pp. 835–840.
(6) Patil, PA, et al. “Comparison of Effectiveness of Abrasive and Enzymatic Action of Whitening Toothpastes in Removal of Extrinsic Stains – a Clinical Trial.” Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 21 July 2014.
(7) “SNOW Teeth Whitening System.” THE DENTAL ADVISOR.
(8) “SNOW® AT-HOME TEETH WHITENING ALL-IN-ONE KIT.” TrySnow.com, Snow Cosmetics LLC.
(9) “Teeth Whitening Kit.” AuraGlow, AuraGlow.
(10) “Tooth Discoloration: Causes, Treatment & Prevention.” Cleveland Clinic.
(11) “V3 Real White Teeth Whitening System.” Primal Life Organics #1 Best Natural Dental Care.