Whitening products for teeth

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Best Teeth Whitening Products

8 Must-Have Items for a Brighter Smile in 2020

June 22, 2019 Share Tweet Flip 0 Shares

The AskMen editorial team thoroughly researches & reviews the best gear, services and staples for life. AskMen may get paid if you click a link in this article and buy a product or service.

Between all the things that give a man confidence, having a pearly white smile ranks pretty high. You can have a great haircut, a stylish wardrobe or a car that would make even James Bond jealous, but if you can’t flash your smile without feeling self-conscious, you’re just not unleashing your full potential.

Here’s the thing: There’s no need to clean out your wallet just to clean up your smile. There are so many safe and effective teeth whitening kits, whitening strips, whitening gels, trays, and LED lights available that can attack both surface stains and deep-down stains to give you the smile you deserve, for far less than a professional whitening or bleaching treatment from the dentist.

RELATED: Best Charcoal Toothpastes for Men

When you’re ready to start shopping for the best teeth whitening product for you, it’s a good idea to figure out what you’re most comfortable with, since there are seemingly endless options to choose from. Some are self-explanatory while others require following directions closely, but with the technology that’s available today, there’s something for just about everyone.

  • Toothpaste: Those with sensitive teeth can rejoice because using a toothpaste to provide superior at-home whitening using ingredients such as baking soda, activated charcoal and even low doses of traditional teeth whiteners such as hydrogen peroxide. These can still whiten your teeth and strengthen gums without causing sensitivity or damaging enamel.
  • Mouthwash: While some mouthwashes focus on getting rid of bad breath, others have special qualities that help fight stains as you’re swooshing around. Beyond that, some even whiten teeth while strengthening enamel.
  • Strips: Products such as Crest Whitestrips have come a long way since they were first introduced in 2001. The various brands of strips on the market today are the preferred method of most, and are pretty easy to apply. They simply mold to your teeth and give you a whiter smile.
  • Gel Trays: If you’ve ever had to wear a plastic retainer, whitening trays are pretty much the same thing — except slathered with a hydrogen peroxide bleaching gel that’s designed to whiten teeth, often quite aggressively.
  • LED Lights: Mimicking the professional teeth whitening procedures the dentist uses, these whiten your teeth on a smaller scale. LED lights are paired with a gel-filled mouthpiece that accelerates the peroxide applied to your teeth
  • Whitening Pens: Probably one of the more mess-free, stress-free options, whitening pens only require you to paint the gel on your teeth with a built-in brush for a few minutes a day. A good treatment to get sensitive teeth whiter or to use in between aggressive treatments, a whitening pen doesn’t often yield results as dramatic as other methods.

The next time you decide to give teeth whiteners and bleaching kits a try, go for one of these products that have great reviews and impressive results. It won’t take long before you hear the words you’ve been waiting for: “Your teeth are so white. What are you doing?” We’re OK if you want to lie right through your teeth.

Best Teeth Whitening Strips

Crest 3D White Luxe Whitestrips

Crest Whitestrips, the OG teeth whitening strips, have always been a best-seller — and most knocked-off — for one very simple reason: They work. These strips, a 2018 AskMen Grooming Award winner, are the first to gain the American Dental Association seal of approval. That’s a big deal, since these bad boys are using potent peroxide to lift stains from tooth enamel, a very sensitive job. By using them 30 minutes a day for two weeks, you’ll start seeing results in three days.

$35.71 at Amazon.com

Best Teeth Whitening Light

Glo Brilliant Teeth Whitening Device

Anyone who loves technology will appreciate GLO Brilliant. A lot of brands sell lights, but GLO Brilliant uses light plus heat, a unique combo typically reserved for the dentist’s office. Founded by dentist Jonathan Levine, GLO Brilliant promises no tooth sensitivity. The kit includes a device that works with whitening gel to whiten teeth in just five days. It may be pricier than most at-home options, but it’s still cheaper than a professional teeth whitening from your dentist.

$199 at Amazon.com

Best Whitening Toothpaste

Colgate Optic White Platinum Toothpaste

There’s something special about the slightly warming feeling this 2018 AskMen Grooming Awards winning toothpaste gives us when we’re using it — it feels like it’s really doing something. Maybe it’s that you can feel it has twice as much peroxide as the original Colgate Optic White and a good dose of fluoride, which helps minimize sensitivity. Within a few brushings, you’ll notice stains fading, and you’ll develop a taste for glistening mint.

$9.08 for 3-Pack at Amazon.com

Best Whitening Mouthwash

Crest 3D White Luxe Glamorous White

Sometimes you don’t really want to mess around with extra regimens or all out bleaching, but you still want whiter teeth. It’s all good. Crest offers an impressive, multi-functional rinse that keeps your grooming routine in check and brightens that smile. A burst of fresh mint tickles your tongue on contact, leaving a refreshing taste in the mouth to kickstart your make-out game.

$5.98 at Amazon.com

Best Nightly Teeth Whitening

EverSmile WhiteFoam

Most clear aligners draw bacteria, produce nasty odors and stain quickly. Take a look at the only wearable aligner cleaner, which uses a low-dosage hydrogen peroxide formula to gradually whiten teeth while killing the more than 99 percent of germs in the process. Spray a very little amount of the foam evenly into your retainer or aligner trays, place them in your mouth and spit out any excess. You can sport the aligner all-day or through the night and never have to worry about sensitivity.

$29.99 at Amazon.com

Best Teeth Whitening Pen

Smile Direct Club Bright on Whitening Pens

Whitening products continue to grow in popularity (estimated to be a $7.4 billion industry in 2024, up $1.8 billion from $5.6 billion in 2016). Are you looking for a quick and easy way to do whitening touch-ups in between your more intense treatments? Whitening pens. These are a great way to fight off stains caused by red wine, coffee and tea because these potent pens fit in your gym bag, carry-on or even in your pocket, allowing for quick on-the-go whitening.

$45 at SmileDirectClub.com

Best All-Natural Teeth Whitener

Dr. Brite Naturals BeBright

If you are someone who is looking to whiten teeth but don’t think you can without steering clear of chemicals found in most whitening products, then keep on reading, because we’re about to blow your mind. Full of organic and non-GMO ingredients, Dr. Brite was founded by cancer surgeon Dr. Paris Sabo and her sister, dentist Pooneh Ramezani, after Sabo started linking high cancer rates to personal care products in her young patients. It relies on simple yet effective natural ingredients such as calcium carbonate, hydrated silica and organic coconut oil to naturally lift stains from teeth every time you brush.

$14.99 at Amazon.com

Best Teeth Whitening Subscription

HiSmile Subscription Service

If you’re like us, you’re busy, and sometimes adding “buy teeth whitener” falls deeper and deeper down the list of priorities. The best way to remedy that? Sign up to have it all delivered to you as often as you want it. We like that this subscription service promotes the option to cancel anytime and gives one-on-one customer service. That’s a big deal today when it seems less and less likely that you’ll interact with a human should you have an issue to deal with.

From $15.99 at HiSmileTeeth.com

Whereas a white smile isn’t going to open all the doors for you in your career or lock down that relationship status from “looking” to “in love,” it can certainly help to make you feel a little bit better about yourself, ensuring that when the time comes, you don’t miss the opportunity because of your teeth.

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The best teeth whitening kits

  • The best teeth whitening kits come with everything you need to whiten your teeth, are easy to use, and do not irritate your gums or teeth.
  • The Crest 3D White Professional Effects Whitestrips are effective, easy to use, and fairly affordable
  • Editor’s Note: The British Dental Journal has released new research that says there is insufficient scientific evidence to prove the cosmetic and health benefits of activated charcoal toothpastes and powders, and that they may cause decay.
  • We are doing our best to keep up with recent news as well as try each and every one of our picks for you. We’ll update this article accordingly when we learn more. You can read more details in this Business Insider article that summarizes the study.

Let’s face it. Some of the most addictive beverages and habits are not the best for our pearly whites. Fortunately, if you want white teeth, you don’t have to say goodbye to coffee, soda, sweets, tea, wine, and smoking because there are many teeth whitening kits to choose from (we still recommend that you kick the smoking habit for obvious reasons).

Teeth whitening is a $3.2 billion worldwide industry. Consequently, there are thousands of options out there, including expensive services at your dentist’s office. Thankfully, if you want to save money, there are several effective kits that you can use at home.

There are essentially two types of kits: ones that bleach your teeth to take stains off and ones that physical scrape off the stains. Activated charcoal powders have become quite popular in recent years. They are applied with a toothbrush and scrape stains off. Whitening trays and strips have been the standard for decades and generally rely on carbamide or hydrogen peroxide.

There is a third type of teeth whitening product that simply blasts your teeth with LED light. However, experts interviewed by the Wirecutter say any gains from this treatment are short-lived. Only the GLO Brilliant system in our guide uses this technology, but it is used in conjunction with a whitening gel.

A few warnings about teeth whitening kits

Peroxide is effective, but it comes with several warnings. Pregnant or nursing women should not use peroxide-based whitening products. It also isn’t for children under fourteen years old. And, you should not use peroxide for longer than two weeks of daily use without the supervision of a dentist.

The FDA does not recommend using any whitening gels with a peroxide concentration of higher than 18%. Two of the kits we recommend use peroxide (Crest Whitestrips and GLO Brilliant), but they should be safe for most people.

You need to be careful using whitening products, as Consumer Reports explains. Always consult with your dentist before starting a course of treatment. For instance, if your darkened teeth are due to the natural thinning of tooth enamel that comes with aging, whitening kits will not help you. Also, they cannot whiten fillings, dentures, veneers, crowns, or caps.

Experts say that whitening kits are safe when used as directed. However, gum irritation and tooth sensitivity are common side effects even when you follow the directions. Therefore, about a week before you start your whitening regimen, use a toothpaste specifically designed for people with sensitive teeth or one that builds up enamel. And, skip a day or two of use if you do experience sensitivity.

Editor’s Note: The British Dental Journal has released new research that says there is insufficient scientific evidence to prove the cosmetic and health benefits of activated charcoal toothpastes and powders, and that they may cause decay. We are doing our best to keep up with recent news as well as try each and every one of our picks for you. We’ll update this article accordingly when we learn more. You can read more details in this Business Insider article that summarizes the study.

We undertook hours of research combing through both consumer and expert reviews and ratings before settling on the whitening kits we’ve included in this guide. Each of the teeth whitening kits we feature in the following slides are effective, easy to use, and unlikely to irritate your teeth or gums.

Here are the best teeth whitening kits you can buy:

  • Best teeth whitening strips: Crest 3D White Professional Effects Whitestrips
  • Best high-end teeth whitening kit: GLO Science Brilliant Personal Teeth Whitening Device
  • Best natural teeth whitening kit: Miswak Club Natural Teeth Whitening Kit
  • Best charcoal teeth whitening kit: Active Wow Teeth Whitening Charcoal Powder

Updated on 05/03/2019 by Les Shu: Updated links, formatting, and prices. Removed our budget option from Utilax as it is no longer available nor recommended. However, both our best overall and best natural picks are affordable options.

Whether it’s due to coffee, wine, or poor oral hygiene, the color of your teeth may fade from a bright sparkling white to a dull yellow. Luckily, teeth whitening is a simple fix that you can do in your own bathroom.

“When you choose to whiten at home, you’re choosing to take a slow and steady approach to whitening, which translates to less side effects, such as tooth sensitivity,” says New York-based cosmetic dentist Edward Alvarez, DDS. “You’ll also have a healthier mouth overall because you’re using products that will increase the pH of your mouth for a sustained period of time, ultimately killing bacteria and lessening decay.”

These days, there are so many teeth whitening products on the market that the very idea of brightening your smile can become more overwhelming than exciting. Should you invest in teeth whitening kits or trays? Toothpaste or gel? Strips or pens?

With the number of options available, the process can be very confusing for consumers, says California-based cosmetic dentist Sarah Jebreil, DDS. To start, decide which type of teeth whitening treatment suits your needs and is convenient for your lifestyle:

Whitening toothpastes contain polishing or chemical agents designed to improve tooth appearance by removing surface stains, as well as lightening the color of your teeth below the surface.

Whitening strips are made of flexible plastic that mold to the teeth, and the whitening formula they contain breaks down and oxidizes into the teeth to whiten them.

Whitening pens contain high quality teeth whitening gel, and their ease of application makes them one of the more convenient teeth whitening options. Whitening lights are used in tandem with a specially formulated gel to help speed up the whitening process.

Whitening trays are an effective method of whitening, but experts recommend using custom-fitted mouth trays made by your dentist. “If they aren’t fitted properly, the tooth whitening gel can leak out of the trays,” says Toronto-based endodontist Gary Glassman, DDS. If you do decide on an OTC method, avoid putting too much gel in the trays so as to not burn your gums.

Once it’s time to scour the drugstore for your desired whitening treatment, make sure the product you choose has earned a seal of approval from the American Dental Association. “What a lot of people don’t realize is that anything placed in the mouth penetrates the mucous membranes and is readily absorbed by the body, so you want to make sure the chemicals you’re putting in your body are safe,” Jebreil says.

It’s also important that the product contains either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, the active ingredients necessary to remove surface and underlying stains — but no more than 10 percent or 35 percent, respectively, Jebreil warns. Anything higher than these levels can do serious damage to the tissues in your mouth and are only recommended for professional use.

With these guidelines in mind, here are the best teeth whitening products to try according to dental pros.

Pearly Girl Vegan Tarte Teeth Whitening Pen

Tarte Pearly Girl Vegan Teeth Whitening Pen amazon.com $31.39

Free of triclosan, synthetic fragrances, soy, dairy, and artificial flavors, this dermatologist-tested teeth whitening pen brightens your smile without harmful chemicals. Natural ingredients coupled with a patented calcium complex work to clear up stains and dark spots, all while protecting tooth enamel. And the easy, no-mess gel can be tossed in your gym bag, car, or purse, for and instant refresher while you’re on-the-go.

Green Mountain Beauty Whitening Charcoal Powder

Gold Mountain Beauty Charcoal Powder Whitening Toothpaste amazon.com $13.61

Made with a combination of activated coconut charcoal, cinnamon powder, and bentonite clay, this whitening powder is non-abrasive and gently lifts stains from your teeth. In addition to giving you a star smile, the natural ingredients are anti-bacterial and anti-fungal to protect the growth of bacteria, fungi, and infection inside of your mouth. The best part? It has zero taste.

Miswak Club Natural Teeth Whitening Kit

Miswak Club Natural Teeth Whitening Kit amazon.com $19.99 $16.99 (15% off)

Who knew you could chew your way to whiter teeth?! If you’re turned off by strips, pastes, and washes, consider these natural teeth whitening sticks by Miswak Club. The sticks are taken from an Arak tree that’s grown in healthy soil and free from chemicals or pesticides, making them a great alternative to other agents. They have almost 1,000 perfect reviews on Amazon, and there’s no other whitening product like it.

Eco-Dent Extra Brite Tooth Whitener

Eco-Dent Extra Brite Tooth Whitener amazon.com $7.40

From cleaning to cooking to healing, the uses of baking soda are endless. Added to its list of roles is teeth whitening. Combined with sea salt toothpowder and peroxide, this baking-soda-based powder by Eco-Dent cleans up your smile naturally.

Jason Natural Powersmile Whitening Toothpaste

Jason Natural Powersmile Whitening Toothpaste amazon.com $28.57 $16.81 (41% off)

If you prefer a teeth whitening toothpaste, make sure it doesn’t contain any harsh abrasives or irritating chemicals, like this Jason Natural Powersmile Whitening Toothpaste. “Otherwise, you lose healthy enamel, which can make your teeth yellower and possibly more sensitive in the long run,” says Hugh Flax, DDS, of Flax Dental in Atlanta The toothpaste contains natural, gentle ingredients like bamboo powder and baking soda to prevent tartar buildup while whitening and brightening your smile.

Crest 3D Glamorous White Whitestrips

Crest 3D Glamorous White Whitestrips amazon.com $44.99 $31.42 (30% off)

If you’re happy to devote 30 minutes a day to a highly effective treatment, try Crest Whitestrips. They contain enamel-safe ingredients that don’t cause sensitivity during wear, and they’re the only whitening strips that have a seal of approval from the American Dental Association. They’re easy to use, comfortable to wear, and yield excellent results for an OTC teeth whitening treatment, says Dovi Prero, board-certified orthodontist and member of the California Association of Orthodontists.

Philips Sonicare Single Whitening Touch-Up Pen

Philips Sonicare Whitening Touch-Up Pen amazon.com $29.95

Prefer a portable whitener? Philips Sonicare whitening pens are a highly effective method of teeth whitening, Glassman says. “Not only do they contain high quality teeth whitening gel, but they offer the most convenience and ease of application.”

They’re also more effective than strips, Glassman adds, because they have a silicone rubber tip that can penetrate the enamel, allowing for the whitening gel to work on all layers of your teeth.

Supersmile Teeth Whitening Kit

Supersmile 6 Minutes To A Whiter Smile dermstore.com $54.00

As far as teeth whitening kits go, Supersmile’s 6 Minutes to a Whiter Smile kit is tough to beat because it safely whitens and re-mineralizes teeth, including dental restorations (bonding, caps, veneers, and dentures), says New York-based prosthodontist Bijan Gohari, DMD. This kit is also 75 percent less abrasive than the limit set by the American Dental Association, so you won’t have to worry about teeth sensitivity rearing its ugly molars.

Opalescence Whitening Toothpaste

Opalescence Whitening Toothpaste (2pack) amazon.com $18.89

This gentle, whitening toothpaste doesn’t just remove stains — it also helps in the fight against cavities and tooth decay, says Victoria Veytsman, DDS, of Cosmetic Dental Studios in Manhattan. If you have temperamental teeth, there’s a special version of the toothpaste that contains potassium nitrate for sensitivity relief. Basically, this is the superhero your mouth needs.

Majestic Pure Activated Charcoal Powder

Majestic Pure Activated Charcoal Powder amazon.com

Using charcoal as a teeth whitener sounds counterintuitive, but hear us out: The charcoal is abrasive, so it will remove any buildup and external stains, while serving as a little magnet to pull out the deeper ones, too.

“An added benefit is that the charcoal will serve to raise the pH in your mouth, which can help protect your teeth from cavities, since they’re formed by acids on your teeth,” Alvarez says. Use a food grade activated charcoal made from coconut or bamboo, he suggests. Certified organic is a plus.

Wet your toothbrush, dip it into the charcoal and lightly brush your teeth — again, charcoal is abrasive, so if you brush too hard it can damage or dull both your enamel and any dental restorations you may have. Keep rinsing your mouth until the water runs clear, then brush your teeth with your regular toothpaste.

Omega Nutrition Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

Omega Nutrition Organic Apple Cider Vinegar amazon.com

Apple cider vinegar contains about 5 percent acetic acid, which serves to break down tartar and calculus (that hard, yellow gunk stuck between your lower teeth), Alvarez says. It’s similar to the acidic solutions dentists use to get tartar and stains off of dentures and mouth guards.

A word of caution, though: Use too much of it, and it will start to break down your enamel and make you more susceptible to cavities. Rinse your mouth with it no more than once a week, Alvarez recommends, then lightly brush with your toothpaste after you’ve swished.

Sensodyne True White Toothpaste

Sensodyne Sensitive Teeth Whitening Toothpaste amazon.com $6.99

Mastering how to whiten teeth when they’re super-sensitive can be a tricky business. Fortunately, Sensodyne True White is 10 times less abrasive than many leading whitening toothpastes. The low-abrasion formula gently lifts stains from the surface of teeth, while also providing active stain protection that works to create a protective shield to help prevent new stains from sticking to the tooth’s surface.

Go Smile Super White Snap Packs

Go Smile Super White Teeth Whitening System amazon.com $27.99

This teeth whitening system is super-easy to use, and is one of the best gel whitening treatments, says Lana Rozenberg, New York-based cosmetic dentist. It comes in single-use applications to protect the potency of the formula until it’s applied — and once applied (the recommended dose is morning and night for seven days), it penetrates the surface to whiten teeth without sensitivity.

Hello Activated Charcoal Whitening Toothpaste

Hello Activated Charcoal Teeth Whitening Toothpaste amazon.com $23.29 $18.56 (20% off)

“Charcoal toothpaste is very abrasive and not meant to be used often — or with a heavy hand — because it can wear away enamel, but it’s great at prepping the teeth prior to a whitening treatment,” Jebreil says. Using the toothpaste and flossing it between teeth prior to putting on strips can deep clean your teeth and help the whitening formula penetrate better.

GLO Brilliant Teeth Whitening Device Kit

Glo Teeth Whitening Kit amazon.com

This whitening kit claims to get your smile five shades whiter in less than one week without sensitivity. The mouthpiece illuminates with a vibrant blue LED light and gently warms to amplify the brand’s specially formulated whitening gel for a whiter, brighter smile, Rozenberg says. Best of all, the applications only require eight minutes at a time.

Before you go, here’s how fruit can help whiten your smile:

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Krissy Brady Krissy is a regular contributor to Prevention, and she also writes for Cosmopolitan, Weight Watchers, Women’s Health, FitnessMagazine.com, Self.com, and Shape.com.

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, but most importantly, do it safely.

The Best Teeth Whitening Strips

Crest “3D White” whitening strips kit

Amazon $45 Buy Now

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.

The Best Teeth Whitening Gel

GLO Science 7-day whitening gel kit

Amazon $54 Buy Now

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 significantly and safely 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.

The Best Teeth Whitening Toothpaste

Spry fluoride-free, xylitol toothpaste

Amazon $7 Buy Now

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.

The Best Teeth Whitening Trays

Opalescence “Go 15%” trays + gels

Amazon $61 Buy Now

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 snug and secure. 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.

The Best Teeth Whitening Regimen

POPWHITE primer toothpaste and rinse

Amazon $36 Buy Now

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.

Seven more teeth-whitening products we love:

Colgate LED 10-day whitening kit

Colgate $145 Buy Now

Colgate’s 10-day LED kit is a gradual but effective approach to a brighter 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.)

Sensodyne gentle whitening toothpaste

Target $6 Buy Now

While no toothpaste will single handedly whiten your teeth, you can supplement your greater efforts with a toothpaste that proactively helps those other tactics. Sensodyne is devised for people with sensitive teeth or gums—which is anyone trying to strip their own enamel and bleach their teeth, for the record. Plus, it protects and fortifies enamel, has fluoride to thwart cavities, and gently boosts the brightening process while freshening your smile.

HiSmile teeth whitening pen

HiSmile $24 Buy Now

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.

Hello activated charcoal floss

Target $5 Buy Now

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.

Carbon Coco activated charcoal whitening powder

Amazon $22 Buy Now

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.

Tom’s of Maine whitening mint toothpaste

Target $5 Buy Now

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.

DPL Oral Gum Care light therapy LED System

Amazon $100 Buy Now

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.Best Stuff

Six natural ways to whiten teeth

The following strategies may help to whiten teeth:

1. Making dietary changes

Eliminating foods that mark the teeth can prevent further staining. Foods and beverages that contain tannins, such as wine and tea, can stain the teeth. Coffee and dark sodas and juices can also stain them.

Acidic foods can make the teeth look yellow by wearing down the enamel. People who are concerned about the color of their teeth should avoid the excessive consumption of citrus, coffee, and soda. Alternatively, they should always brush their teeth after having them.

Dentists generally recommend waiting 30 minutes after eating before brushing the teeth. Acids can weaken the enamel, so brushing too soon can cause damage.

Quitting smoking or tobacco products can reduce the risk of nicotine stains. It can also prevent tooth decay and gum disease, both of which can damage the enamel and cause oral health issues.

2. Trying oil pulling

Oil pulling is the term for washing the mouth with oil to remove dirt, bacteria, and debris. It is not a substitute for regular brushing or flossing, but some research suggests that washing the mouth with certain oils may help to whiten the teeth.

The American Dental Association (ADA) consider oil pulling to be unconventional dentistry, stating, “there are no reliable scientific studies to show that oil pulling reduces cavities, whitens teeth, or improves oral health and well-being.”

To try this method, rinse the mouth with oil for a minute after brushing, then spit it out.

Oils suitable for oil pulling include:

  • coconut oil
  • sunflower oil
  • sesame oil

3. Brushing with baking soda

Baking soda can gently polish away stains on the surface of the teeth. Some people worry that baking soda is too harsh and may grind away enamel, but research from 2017 found it to be a safe way to remove stains.

Baking soda may also help to fight bacteria, which suggests that it may be able to reduce plaque and prevent tooth decay.

4. Using hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a mild bleach that can help to whiten stained teeth. For optimal whitening, a person can try brushing with a mix of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide for 1–2 minutes twice a day for a week. They should only do this occasionally.

Hydrogen peroxide may increase tooth sensitivity, so it is not suitable for long-term use or for people who already have sensitive teeth.

5. Whitening with fruit

Share on PinterestPapaya fruit contains an enzyme that may help to whiten teeth.

Papain and bromelain, which are enzymes that occur in papayas and pineapples respectively, may both help to whiten teeth.

A 2012 study found preliminary evidence that solutions containing these ingredients could offer modest whitening effects. However, the authors of the study caution that more research is necessary to determine whether or not these enzymes are effective.

6. Maintaining excellent oral hygiene

Maintaining excellent oral hygiene is the most important thing that a person can do to reduce tooth yellowing.

Regular brushing and flossing protects the enamel, prevents gum decay, and removes stains.

Good oral hygiene includes:

  • Brushing the teeth at least twice a day. A person should be sure to also clean around the gums and the backs of the teeth.
  • Using a fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride can fight and even reverse tooth decay. Though some people oppose using fluoride, dentists believe that fluoride is safe and beneficial for teeth.
  • Flossing to remove plaque between the teeth.

Here’s what it takes to whiten teeth

By Jill U. Adams April 28, 2018

Walk down the toothpaste aisle at your typical drugstore and you’ll see a range of products that promise to whiten your teeth. Whitening toothpaste, whitening strips, a whitening gel that you can paint on your teeth with a cotton swab or use in a mouth tray, a two-step “daily cleaning and whitening system,” and more.

“I see a lot more attention on pretty smiles,” says Clifton Carey, a chemist at the University of Colorado’s School of Dental Medicine. Tooth whitening, in particular, is “a big thing these days. A lot of sellers and a lot of customers.”

The products at the drugstore all have essentially the same whitening ingredient — the bleaching agent peroxide. If you go to your dentist for a professional tooth whitening, they’ll use a more concentrated peroxide product.

With the in-office procedure, “you get a lot of whitening very quickly, but it requires expertise,” says Matthew Messina, a practicing dentist at the Ohio State University College of Dentistry and a spokesman for the American Dental Association. With such a high-powered bleaching agent, he says, “the dentist has to protect the gums.”

The over-the-counter products are weaker. That means less active whitening but also less risk to the gums, should the whitening agent come in contact. “All of the products are safe if used as directed,” Messina says. Still, they can increase sensitivity of teeth and they can irritate gum tissue. “Anything that doesn’t feel right, you should see your dentist.”

Tooth whitening is best done in a “healthy mouth condition,” Messina says. “Have a thorough exam, make sure your teeth are clean and that plaque and tartar have been removed.” Also, be aware that tooth whitening doesn’t work on crowns or most fillings.

Professional whitening, which will be immediate and last for years, might cost $500 or more and is not generally covered by dental insurance. Products to use at home usually require multiple applications over a week or two, will have a gradual and lesser whitening effect, and will not last as long. Whitening strips can cost as little as $25.

“The do-it-yourself products can be used as a booster, after a professional treatment, to keep the teeth white,” Carey says. “Dentists often recommend this.”

How do these products work? “It’s a surface-type bleach,” Carey says, working on stains that are bonded to tooth enamel. “Bleach is a chemical that breaks those bonds,” Carey says. The staining compounds might remain, but the bleach turns them clear.

The concentrated product that dentists use also dehydrate the tooth somewhat. “That’s the immediate color change — bleaching plus dehydration,” Carey says. As the surface of the tooth rehydrates over the next few weeks, people may notice their teeth’s whiteness slip back a couple of shades.

A quick bit of tooth anatomy: Enamel is the thin hard outer layer of the tooth; dentin is the next layer in and is less dense than enamel. In the middle is the pulp, which is the soft tissue that holds the nerve center.

“Enamel is what you’re bleaching,” Carey says. “It’s really thin near the gum line. If you have receding gums, it exposes your root tissues.” Dentists try to avoid applying the concentrated product on or near the dentin.

Dentin comes into play for aesthetics as well, because it’s got a naturally yellowish hue. As people age, their enamel can become thinner, a result of decades of wear and tear. The thinner the enamel, the more likely the yellowish dentin shows through. That’s why older people often have yellowed teeth. Bleaching products won’t help in this situation because they don’t affect the dentin.

There are a few other discolorations that whitening procedures cannot change. If you took tetracycline as a kid, say for an ear infection, you might have antibiotic staining of the teeth. Or if your teeth suffered trauma when you were young and your enamel was still forming, whitening won’t work. Dentists refer to these discolorations as intrinsic stains.

If you spend a little time searching the Web, you’ll find plenty of ideas about natural methods of tooth whitening. Use lemon juice or apple cider vinegar as a mouthwash? Scrub your teeth with an activated charcoal product? Messina says those techniques come with risks. The acid of lemon juice can erode the enamel on your teeth, and charcoal is an abrasive that can wear it away. “Your teeth will be whiter initially, but as the enamel wears away, you’ll see more dentin,” Messina says. “That yellowish color will show through.”

Can you prevent your teeth from becoming stained in the first place? Good practices mean avoiding staining substances. The most egregious are red wine, coffee and tobacco residue. Other foods on the staining list are tea, tomato sauce and balsamic vinegar. If the thought of avoiding any of those makes you want to cry, Messina advises rinsing with water after eating. Brushing your teeth is even better.

And, of course, the dentists advise good oral hygiene: regular brushing, flossing and checkups.

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