Even if you’re deeply committed to oral care, there’s a good chance you aren’t clued into the best teeth whitening products. You’re probably one step ahead of our roundups for the best toothpastes and mouthwashes. You might have the cleanest mouth on the block, or maybe you can write the book on fresh breath. Hell, maybe you even know that proper oral hygiene starts with gum care. All of that is imperative stuff, if you’re into oral health.
But what about appearances? Yes, it’s important to have a clean mouth, fresh breath, and healthy gums. It feels amazing and is good for you. But superficially, we all want cleaner-looking teeth—that is, we want them free of discoloration and stains. And whitening the teeth is an extra step in the process, as well as a sensitive one. It’s something that some people will only do with a dentist, since it involves removing enamel, exposing the tiny pores on the surface of your teeth, and effectively bleaching them. Other people, however, are content doing this from home. And if you’re one of those people, then you need to invest in products that won’t compromise the long term health of your pearly whites, just for the sake of a few years’ vanity.
To get an electric-white set of teeth on par with The Rock’s, you’ve got to know your teeth-staining culprits and stick to an oral-hygiene regimen, sure, but you’ve also got to build out your arsenal with the right whitening products, from the classic strips to lights, gels, and teched-out toothpastes. Luckily, we’ve tried ’em all. Here are the best teeth whitening products to help you whiten your teeth quickly, effectively, and safely.
1. Best Teeth-Whitening Strips: Crest 3D White
The year Crest relinquishes this spot is the year hell freezes over. Their 3D Whitestrips are one of the gentler, more affordable routes in the DIY-whitening game. This single kit includes enough strips for 20 whitening sessions, which are intended to be used daily, for 30 minutes, until you’re through with the pack. As a bonus, you also get 2 express whitening pairs, which brighten teeth significantly in a single hour. (Consider saving those for a re-up whitening session every 3-6 months down the road, before restocking the whole supply each year.) In all the kit promises to remove up to 14 years of stains in under 20 days, when used as directed.
These strips have more than 18,000 reviews on Amazon and, unsurprisingly, are Amazon’s choice for whitening strips. Reviewers consistently report blindingly white results that give professional treatments a run for their money: “My teeth have stayed really white and I frequently get compliments or questions on how I get my teeth so white … These are well worth the money and work as good as a professional treatment. I have had friends who have done professional treatments and their teeth are not as white as mine. I highly recommend these to anyone who wants a brighter smile!”
2. Best Teeth-Whitening Gel: GLO Science
GLO Science’s tiny squeezable whitening vials go a long way, providing up to 28 gel applications with their hydrogen-peroxide formula. It’s engineered to safely significantly brighten your teeth in a week’s time. (The vials can last much longer than a week, too, since you need just a pea-sized amount per application.) After applying gel onto both rows of teeth, turn on your activating LED light and pop it into your mouth, for an extra fresh-looking finish.
3. Best Teeth-Whitening Toothpaste: Spry
Spry’s all-natural paste uses xylitol to safely and gently whiten teeth over time, thanks to small amounts of calcium peroxide in the recipe. (Xylitol, for the uninitiated, is like stevia in that is a natural sugar. It is extracted from birch trees and is safely used as a sweetener. Many other whitening pastes are made from corn syrup or sugar.) This toothpaste, like any great one, leaves your breath and gums fresh, but it scores highest marks for being an excellent alternative to corner-cutting whitening-paste recipes.
4. Best Teeth-Whitening Trays: Opalescence
If standalone gel isn’t your thing, or if you’d rather not use the LED-whitening trays, then consider Opalescence. These one-time-use trays come pre-loaded with whitening gel and go in like a mouth guard to cover all of your teeth, molar to molar. They instantly adjust to fit snugly and securely. Leave them on from 15 minutes to an hour, depending on the potency (10 percent or 15 percent hydrogen peroxide concentration). Both concentrations contain potassium nitrate and fluoride, which help minimize sensitivity while improving the “micro-hardness” of your enamel. All of this ensures professional-level, consistent results at home, and really whitens all your chompers (not just the front few like some other techniques). Bonus: Because the gel surrounds the entire tooth, these even work if you have braces.
5. Best Teeth-Whitening Regimen: POPWHITE
If you’ve bleached your hair before, then you know that in order to keep the blond from going all yellow and brassy, you’ve got to use a purple toner. Well, Popwhite uses that same logic for your teeth. The purple pigment in this toothpaste-and-mouthwash duo will instantly make yellowy teeth appear whiter through simple color theory—the purple hue cancels out hints of yellow. Over time, using this combo whenever you brush—twice a day, people, no excuses—will lighten stains with all-natural xylitol and coconut oil, options that are friendly to just about everyone’s teeth. It’s peroxide-free, fluoride-free, cruelty-free, and vegetarian-friendly.
6. Best Teeth-Whitening Kit: Colgate LED
Colgate’s 10-day LED kit is a gradual but effective approach to a whiter smile, free of sensitivity and pain throughout the process. You can also buy a refill of the whitening serum for just $45, for whenever you need to refresh the brightness. (That’s about once a year for you coffee, cola, and wine drinkers.)
7. Best Teeth-Whitening Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth: Sensodyne
While no toothpaste will single-handedly whiten your teeth, you can supplement your efforts with a toothpaste that proactively helps those other tactics. Sensodyne is devised for people with gum or tooth sensitivity—which is anyone trying to strip their own enamel and bleach their teeth, for the record. Plus, it protects and fortifies tooth enamel, has fluoride to thwart cavities, and gently boosts the brightening process while freshening your smile.
8. Best Teeth-Whitening Pen: HiSmile
If your teeth are already white and you’d rather do periodic touch-ups instead of a whole weeks-long bleaching regimen, then get yourself a whitening pen. HiSmile’s one-minute application is also an excellent travel companion, if you want to brighten up on a long trip without packing the whole LED kit.
9. Best Charcoal-Activated Floss: Hello
The truth is, any floss is going to prevent discoloration by removing the food that stains teeth. But Hello takes it a step further by infusing activated charcoal into their floss, to double down on stain prevention and pull away the plaque and impurities that coat and color our teeth.
10. Best Whitening Powder: Carbon Coco
Activated charcoal is a common ingredient in skincare and oral care, since it extracts impurities from the skin and teeth. When it comes to your smile, this means it helps pull away stain-causing agents (plaque and co.) and can even steadily help remove existing stains in the process. With Carbon Coco, you just brush this activated charcoal into your mouth like toothpaste, and it gives you a doubly effective cleaning.
11. Best Natural Whitening Toothpaste: Tom’s of Maine
It’s almost impossible to find an American Dental Association–approved natural toothpaste that actually keeps your teeth white, but this one can claim that coveted distinction. Without using bleaching chemicals, harsh charcoals, or gnarly dyes (which can have negative effects on your teeth), this toothpaste’s naturally derived silicas scrub away the stains that make your whites look less than pearly. If you’re into the slow-and-steady approach, this stuff is a great way to improve your smile.
12. Best Light Therapy System: DPL
Light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, release energy in the form of photons and have all sorts of functions in our lives (remote controls, digital clocks, traffic signals, you name it). Blue and red LEDs are medically proven to relieve pain, increase circulation, enhance gum health, freshen breath, and, yep, whiten teeth. This is one of the most advanced over-the-counter whitening systems you can buy, and it works wonders. Blue light helps reduce bacteria, causing a whitening effect, while red and infrared lights actually improve gum health by increasing blood flow. If you want an extra boost of whitening power, use this along with your favorite whitening gel.
13. Budget LED Teeth-Whitening Kit: AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Kit
If you need to get rid of coffee, red wine, or other surface stains, look no further than this LED-powered mouth tray that promises results after a single whitening treatment. Use it for 30 minutes a day to remove plaque and discolor safely. Don’t take our word for it: check out the 19,000+ reviews on Amazon, complete with plenty of before and after pictures showcasing people’s whitening results.
14. Amazon’s Choice: Colgate Optic White Renewal Teeth Whitening Toothpaste
Here’s one more great toothpaste to try. It’s powered with 3% hydrogen peroxide, completely safe for your enamel, and made for daily use. It’s recommended by dentists and can remove up stains that have built up over years. It has an average rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon and has more than 5,000 reviews. It even removes stains from smoking: “I don’t smoke anymore and have been so embarrassed by the yellowing of my teeth—so decided to try Colgate Optic White Renewal! I’m hooked. My teeth are actually whiter than they’ve been in 30 years and everyone has noticed,” one reviewer reported.
15. Best Charcoal Kit: Carbon Coco
This complete kit includes everything needed to get your whiter teeth at home. It’s got tooth polish, two tubes of toothpaste, whitening strips, and a bamboo toothbrush. The active ingredient in all the products is, of course, 100% activated charcoal. This kit has more than 2400 glowing reviews, reporting how easy and effective this home teeth whitening kit is. “I absolutely love it. I use the strips before going out and … then peel them off and brush with the charcoal toothpaste. I can see such a difference. My teeth are so white. I use the powder every other day which has whitened them more gradually. I have sensitive teeth and this product hasn’t harmed them at all,” says one (of many) satisfied customers.