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As luck would have it, many of the most enjoyable things in life can stain your teeth. Your morning cup of coffee, that evening glass of red wine, heck, even seemingly innocuous things such as tomato sauce and blueberries can leave your teeth looking dingy. As far as whitening your smile goes, a professional, in-office treatment is always going to be more effective than any at-home option, pure and simple. That being said, they come with a hefty price tag, require that you actually go to a dentist’s office, and come with a higher likelihood for tooth sensitivity, explains cosmetic dentist Dr. Jon Marashi.
Meet the Expert
“At-home teeth whitening is a good, conservative option for many people. It’s cost-effective and generally has low or no tooth sensitivity,” he says. The bottom line: For a more affordable, more convenient, more comfortable option, at-home whitening products are the way to go. Plus, versatility is the name of the game, with plenty of formats to choose from—toothpaste, strips, pens, and more—to fit any preference.
Try these best teeth whitening products and get ready to flash your pearly whites.
Best Overall: Crest 3D White Whitestrips with Light
Visible results in ten days
Easy to use
Results last up to 36 months
Causes mild sensitivity
Crest is no stranger to the at-home whitening world (as you’ll see as you keep reading), but their latest innovation really is a game-changer. It takes the same beloved strips the brand is best known for (again, keep reading for more on those), and amps up their effects with an included blue light.
For 10 days you wear the strips for an hour, then hold up the light to the strips for another 10 minutes (five minutes each on top and bottom). The light boasts the same technology found in dentist’s offices, which helps the hydrogen peroxide in the strips better penetrate the tooth enamel and ultimately leads to whiter teeth—that will stay whiter for up to 36 months.
Type: Strips, light | Session Duration: 5 minutes | Active Ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide, sodium hydroxide
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Crest 3D White Luxe Glamorous White Whitestrips
Visible results in two weeks
Easy to use
Causes mild sensitivity
Truly a classic, you really can’t go wrong with these easy-to-use strips. They have the American Dental Association’s (ADA) seal of approval, which was granted to them in 2017. To drive home how major that is, it's worth mentioning that it's the first product to earn the ADA seal in the Home-Use Tooth Bleaching Products category, according to the ADA. They promise to remove up to 10 years' worth of stains, and this variety features extra grip to ensure they stay in place.
Dr. Marashi is also a fan, lauding both the affordable price and the good results they deliver. Still, he does note that compliance with any at-home product is usually the main issue, so you’ll need to use these every day (for the entire duration of the two-week treatment cycle) to see the best results.
Type: Strips | Session Duration: 30 minutes | Active Ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide, sodium hydroxide
Best Kit: GLO Science GLO Brilliant Teeth Whitening Device
Portable and easy to travel with
Visible results in five days
Easy to use
Remote battery runs out quickly
A little bit on the pricier side, this is pretty much the closest you can get to a pro-style treatment at home. You start by applying the protective lip balm, then brush a thin layer of the whitening gel along the fronts of your teeth. Pop in the mouthpiece and turn it on, either manually or via the app, fancy.
The GLO technology—which stands for Guided Light Optics, FYI—uses a combo of both light and heat to activate the hydrogen peroxide-based gel so you get whiter teeth, fast. It shuts off after eight minutes, though you have to repeat the process twice more after that. Do three cycles total for seven days in a row for impressive results; in a consumer study, 100% of the participants had whiter teeth, up to five shades lighter on average, and none reported any sensitivity.
Type: Gel, light | Session Duration: 8 minutes | Active Ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide, sodium hydroxide, potassium nitrate, sodium fluoride
What Our Testers Say
"I’d say my teeth are about one to one-and-a-half shades lighter than they were in the beginning, and with consistent use past the 10-day mark, they will get even brighter." — Ashley Rebecca, Product Tester
Runner-Up, Best Kit: Snow Teeth Whitening Kit With LED Light
Effectively breaks down dark stains
Safe for sensitive teeth
Safe for dental work such as braces and crowns
Pricier than most kits
This is Dr. Marashi’s pick for a full-on system. “It combines a special wavelength of light delivered via the mouthpiece, combined with the whitening gel. The light activates the gel to effectively break down dark colors that are staining your teeth,” he explains. It’s a fan-favorite on Amazon, too, repeatedly pulling in five-star reviewers with customers commenting on how well it works and how it’s worth the price.
Each kit comes with three wands of Snow's whitening gel as well as an extra-strength version in addition to the LED mouthpiece. The best part? It's safe for use by those with with sensitive teeth, braces, bridges, caps, crowns, and veneers.
Type: Gel, light | Session Duration: 9-30 minutes | Active Ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide, carbamide peroxide, potassium nitrate
Best Pen: AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Pen
Reaches tooth crevices
Leaves behind a minty, refreshing taste
Can't eat or drink for one hour post-treatment
For those looking for a simple, easy option that can be used pretty much anytime, anywhere, this perfectly portable pen can’t be beaten. All you have to do is brush the whitening gel (which does its thing thanks to a 35% concentration of carbamide peroxide) onto each tooth—that’s it. What we appreciate most is how its flexible brush tip can get inside the crevices between your teeth, making eliminating tough coffee stains a breeze.
You get more than 20 applications out of one pen, which we think is a steal considering its affordable price. Bonus? The gel has a pleasant minty flavor, unlike many of the other whitening gels out there.
For the best results, use it once or twice per day and wait at least an hour before eating or drinking afterward.
Type: Gel | Session Duration: 60 seconds | Active Ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide
Best Toothpaste: Crest 3D White Brilliance Toothpaste
Stronger than traditional whitening toothpastes
Protects with fluoride while refreshing breath
Not as effective as strips or gels
Surprise, Crest does it again. Using toothpaste is probably the easiest way to work a whitening product into your routine—after all, you’re already brushing your teeth every day as it is. While we’ll admit, whitening toothpastes usually aren’t nearly as powerful as gels and other treatments, this one is actually a pretty solid option.
Combining the brand’s Fastest Whitening Technology and Advanced Stain Protection, it buffs off surface stains—up to an impressive 95% of them in just three days—and offers protection against further stains, all while strengthening your teeth and fighting off cavities with fluoride. We’re sold.
Type: Toothpaste | Session Duration: 2 minutes | Active Ingredients: Fluoride
Runner-Up, Best Toothpaste: Moon Oral Care Charcoal Whitening Toothpaste
Extracts and other naturals whiten, brighten, and improve mouth health
Formula foams nicely
Fluoride free, so it won't protect against cavities and decay
Another game-changing whitening toothpaste is this charcoal version from oral care brand Moon. Formulated without fluoride, it cleans and freshens the breath while its proprietary ELIXIR X blend of extracts and ingredients gets to work to whiten, brighten, and promote overall healthier-looking teeth and gums. Plus, we love that its key ingredient list sounds more like a skincare product than a toothpaste: It contains a combination of green and black teas, ginseng, echinacea, camu camu, cranberry, dead sea salt, tea tree oil, coconut oil, and peppermint oil.
It certainly doesn't hurt that its also sulfate-free, cruelty-free, vegan. And, fine, we know this isn’t necessarily an important feature of a tooth whitening product, but the packaging is also super pretty.
Type: Toothpaste | Session Duration: 2 minutes | Active Ingredients: Activated charcoal
What Our Editors Say
“I never believed a toothpaste could whiten in a noticeable way, but I swear my teeth look so much whiter and brighter since I started using this. Plus, I like that it's made with gentle ingredients and the mint flavor isn't so extreme." —former Byrdie Editorial Director Faith Xue
Best Charcoal Toothpaste: Hello Oral Care Activated Charcoal Teeth Whitening Toothpaste
Contains sustainable bamboo-derived charcoal
Naturally detoxes and removes odors while whitening
Black formula can be messy
Charcoal can be found in a bazillion different skincare products these days, but it’s also a popular ingredient in the oral care space. It’s an effective abrasive, an ingredient that buffs off stains on the surface of your teeth.
“This toothpaste does a great job at binding to the stains and discolored deposits and lifting them off to leave teeth brighter,” says Dr. Marashi. He adds that he especially likes using it as a maintenance product after using a hydrogen-peroxide based product, like strips or a gel.
Type: Toothpaste | Session Duration: 2 minutes | Active Ingredients: Activated charcoal, titanium dioxide
Best for Sensitive Teeth: Go Smile Teeth Whitening Snap Packs
Visible results in one week
Promises to leave teeth seven shades whiter
Results are subtle
Looking to whiten and brighten your smile, but worried your teeth are too sensitive for a tooth whitening product? Fear not, this teeth whitening system is formulated with a non-sensitizing hydrogen peroxide gel that won’t hurt your teeth or gums, but still works super effectively. In fact, some results are noticeable in as little as one day.
Commit to using these for just one week to score teeth that are up to seven shades whiter. Snap open each individual pack and apply to the fronts of teeth post-brushing, morning and night, for just seven days. Considering that most other systems take weeks to show results, this one is truly a must.
Type: Gel | Session Duration: 20 minutes | Active Ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide
Best Sustainable: Bite Whitening Gel Teeth Whitening Kit
100% plastic-free system
May cause slight gum irritation
In the market for a whitening product that’s both clean and sustainable? Look no further than this whitening gel from Bite. You may be familiar with Bite for its innovative and clean toothpaste “bites,” and now the eco-minded brand has launched the first and only 100% plastic-free teeth whitening system on the market. The glass bottle comes complete with a compostable brush to make application quick and easy.
But of course, more on the product itself: The vegan peroxide-based formula is gentle enough to be used by those with sensitive teeth, but trust, it works. Simply swipe on for two minutes, twice a day, and watch it work its magic. Each bottle contains enough serum for 28 applications, enough for a two-week supply.
Type: Gel | Session Duration: 2 minutes | Active Ingredients: Carbamide peroxide
Best Toothpaste Topper: LINHART Tooth Whitener Gel
Transforms any toothpaste into whitening toothpaste
Easy to use
Formula is temperature sensitive and can become watery
Hands down, this innovative toothpaste topper is a must. It allows you to turn your favorite toothpaste—or any old toothpaste, for that matter—into a whitening formula. The hydrogen peroxide-based gel can be dabbed on top of any toothpaste before you begin your brush sesh, instantly giving it a brightening boost.
But what we love the most about it is the customization factor: You can use as much or as little of it as you’d like, and how often you’d like, allowing you to customize it based on your whitening needs. Plus, the latest iteration of its formula is not only 50% stronger, but it’s much more stable (read: it won't lose efficacy over time), making it great to keep on hand whenever your pearly whites need a pick-me-up.
Type: Gel toothpaste | Session Duration: 2 minutes | Active Ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide
Best Floss: Spotlight Oral Care Dental Floss for Whitening Teeth
Targets pesky stains between teeth
Made from recycled plastic
Needs to be manually cut
Breaking news: It’s not just the stains on the front of your teeth that can make them appeared discolored. Staining in between the teeth also contributes to an overall dingy appearance. Flossing, in general, is super important in preventing this, but you can up the ante even further by using this floss, which is infused with hydrogen peroxide.
FYI, you get just the roll of floss (without the plastic holder that you typically get) so figuring out how to pull it out and cut it takes a little bit of getting used to, but it’s well worth the extra effort.
Type: Floss | Active Ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide
Best for Aligners: Byte BrightByte
Whitens teeth while you align
Can only be used with aligner or retainer
If you’re currently rocking Invisalign or any other type of clear, corrective aligners, this pick is for you. “The foam keeps your aligners clean while whitening your smile simultaneously, so you get both straighter and whiter teeth at the same time,” says Dr. Marashi, who’s a fan. Oh, and did we also mention that it freshens your breath, too?
All you need to do is squeeze one pump of this 3-in-1 foam into your aligner or retainer trays, making sure it’s spread all over evenly. Then, pop them on and voilà! Simultaneously brighter, whiter, and straighter teeth.
Type: Gel, trays | Session Duration: Dependent on tray use
While teeth whitening can be dependent on the person, team Byrdie can’t go past the Crest 3D White Luxe Glamorous Whitestripes for their ease of use and American Dental Association’s (ADA) seal of approval. And when it comes to minimal effort, maximum impact, the Crest 3D White Brilliance Toothpaste is gold class. Just switch your regular toothpaste out for this one and you’re golden.
What To Look For in a Teeth Whitening Product
The application method
Typically with at-home whitening, consistency is key, so it’s important the product you buy is one you’ll actually use. Check how it applies, how long it needs to be worn and how often you’ll need to use it before you pull the trigger.
It’s no secret at-home products will never yield the same results as a professional treatment, so be sure to consider this when it comes to price. Exorbitant or inflated treatment kits will just leave you disappointed. That being said, our list is vetted by us to ensure you get results at a reasonable price.
Potential allergens or irritants
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that at-home teeth whitening products can contain harsh or potentially irritating ingredients, especially if they come into contact with your skin. We suggest running any questions or concerns past your dentist or health professional first.
How do teeth whitening products work?
Marashi explains that teeth whitening products typically involve a peroxide gel that’s applied to the surface of the teeth, whether it’s delivered via foil, a strip, or a custom-molded tooth tray. The peroxide gel soaks into the tooth, dissolving internal discolorations. “Think of it as applying bleach to a cranberry stain on white fabric,” he says.
Are teeth whitening products safe?
According to Marashi, yes, teeth whitening products are safe. “Obviously, there may be some inferior products out there, but by and large, they are safe!” he says. A great way to know if an oral care product is up to par is by checking to see if it earned an ADA Seal of Acceptance.
Can you avoid pain and sensitivity after using teeth whitening products?
Some folks may be wary of using teeth whitening products as they’ve been known to cause minor tooth sensitivity. According to Marashi, you can avoid this by using a topical fluoride or desensitizing toothpaste after removing your whitening product.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. As an avid coffee drinker (and blueberry eater, and red wine drinker, you get the picture), she’s always on a quest for whiter teeth. She prefers at-home whitening products over in-office treatments for the ease and lack of sensitivity.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find any teeth whitening products from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will evaluate the product ASAP.