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 Teeth Whitening Strips — Crest 3D White Whitestrips
Best Whitening Strips for Sensitive Teeth — Fairywill Teeth Whitening Strips
Best Whitening Toothpaste — Colgate Optic White Renewal
Best Overall LED Whitening Kit — GLO Science Brilliant Whitening Kit
Best LED Whitening Kit for Sensitive Teeth — Snow At-Home Teeth Whitening (All-In-One Kit)
Best on a Budget LED Whitening Kit — AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Kit
Best Natural LED Whitening Kit — Primal Life Real White Teeth Whitening System
Best All-In-One Whitening Kit — Lumineux Oral Essentials Teeth Whitening Kit
Best Clean (Vegan) Whitening Kit — Cali White Teeth Whitening Kit
Best Whitening Pen for Travel — AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Pen
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.
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).
For example, 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.
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:
Crest is the market leader in whitening products. Crest 3D White Whitestrips are also the only product approved by the American Dental Association (ADA). This means they are safe and effective when used as instructed.
14 treatments are included in each box. Apply them once a day for 30 minutes to remove surface stains and brighten your smile.
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 Strips for Sensitive Teeth
Fairywill Teeth Whitening Strips are strong enough to remove stains and gentle enough for sensitive teeth.
The whitening gel on the back of the strip is moisture-activated, so it sticks to the teeth firmly until you remove it. This means you can talk and drink water while whitening your teeth.
Fairywill claims you’ll notice visibly whiter teeth in just two weeks (with 30 minute treatments per day). The whitening effect will last 90 days or more with proper care.
Some reviewers say they saw results after two to three uses. However, the most noticeable results were achieved after one to two weeks.
Colgate Optic White Renewal toothpaste contains 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, a professionally recommended whitening ingredient. Hydrogen peroxide has proven to be enamel-safe and effective in small doses.
Brush twice daily with this toothpaste for a maximum of four weeks. Be careful with whitening toothpastes. Many of them are abrasive if overused, which can lead to enamel damage.
This whitening toothpaste is best for superficial surface stains. If you have deeper stains, an LED whitening kit may be the better option.
Reviewers mention that Colgate’s Optic White Renewal toothpaste has a pleasant flavor and gradually whitens teeth with consistent use. Some also say it removes yellowing caused by long-term smoking.
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.
Snow All-In-One LED Teeth Whitening Kit is the #1 bestseller. It offers quick whitening results with 99.3 percent ratings across 500,000+ customers.
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.
Eighty-percent of dentists would recommend Snow Teeth Whitening to their patients (7).
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.
Best Natural LED Whitening Kit
Primal Life’s LED Teeth Whitening Device uses warming heat technology and whitening gel for faster, easier, and more effective whitening. The kit is cordless and only needs to be used for 15 minutes a day.
The whitening serum is also completely non-toxic and vegan. It does not contain peroxide and uses essential oils and botanicals to whiten teeth gradually.
We recommend purchasing Primal Life’s White Whitening Gel (listed below) instead of the Activated Charcoal Whitening Gel. Charcoal-based dental products haven't been thoroughly tested. No evidence shows that activated charcoal is 100 percent safe for teeth.
Best Natural All-In-One Whitening Kit
Lumineux’s kit is a microbiome safe, clinically proven, and certified non-toxic teeth whitening system. It does not incorporate the use of an LED light.
Lumineux products combine ancient homeopathic ingredients with scientific evidence. The formulas include ingredients like coconut oil, sage oil, and lemon peel oil. These naturally-derived ingredients help remove surface stains and freshen your breath naturally.
The kit includes 14 natural whitening strips, whitening toothpaste, whitening mouthwash, and a bamboo toothbrush.
Reviewers say the products work well with consistent use and do not cause sensitivity.fe for teeth.
Best Clean (Vegan) Whitening Kit
The Cali White Botanical Whitening System contains zero peroxide and is non-toxic. It includes an LED light to help speed up the whitening process.
The whitening gel is made of natural ingredients, essential oils, and botanicals. These ingredients work to give you whiter teeth without any of the harmful chemicals used in traditional whitening kits.
The kit is also organic, vegan, sulfate-free, paraben-free, and gluten-free.
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.
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 $1200 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, www.mouthhealthy.org/en/ada-seal-products/category-display?category=Bleaching+Products.
(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, https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1612-2011/10/8/085601.
(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 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4058574/.
(4) “GLO Brilliant Teeth Whitening Device.” GLO Science, GLO Science, https://gloscience.com/products/glo-brilliant-personal-teeth-whitening-device.
(5) Markowitz, Kenneth. “Pretty Painful: Why Does Tooth Bleaching Hurt?” Medical Hypotheses, vol. 74, no. 5, 2010, pp. 835–840, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306987709008019?via%3Dihub.
(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, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/idh.12090.
(7) “SNOW Teeth Whitening System.” THE DENTAL ADVISOR, www.dentaladvisor.com/evaluations/snow-teeth-whitening-system/.
(8) “SNOW® AT-HOME TEETH WHITENING ALL-IN-ONE KIT.” TrySnow.com, Snow Cosmetics LLC, www.trysnow.com/pages/snow-teeth-whitening-kit-special-offer.
(9) “Teeth Whitening Kit.” AuraGlow, AuraGlow, https://auraglow.com/products/teeth-whitening-kit.
(10) “Tooth Discoloration: Causes, Treatment & Prevention.” Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/10958-tooth-discoloration.
(11) “V3 Real White Teeth Whitening System.” Primal Life Organics #1 Best Natural Dental Care, www.primallifeorganics.com/collections/led-whitener/products/led-teeth-whitener.