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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.
“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
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.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Crest 3D White Luxe Glamorous White Whitestrips
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) in order to see the best results.
Best Kit: GLO Science Brilliant Complete Teeth Whitening System
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.
Runner-Up, Best Kit: Snow At-Home Teeth Whitening Kit
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.
Best Pen: AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Pen
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. You get more than 20 applications out of one pen and the gel has a pleasant minty flavor.
For the best results, use it once or twice per day and wait at least an hour before eating or drinking afterward.
Best Toothpaste: Crest 3D White Brilliance Toothpaste
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. This particular one buffs off surface stains—up to 95% of them in just three days—and offers protection against further stains, all while strengthening your teeth and fighting off cavities with fluoride.
Runner-Up, Best Toothpaste: Moon Oral Care Charcoal Whitening Toothpaste
This is a game-changer for Byrdie’s Editorial Director Faith Xue. “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," she says. "Plus, I like that it's made with gentle ingredients and the mint flavor isn't so extreme." Speaking of gentle ingredients, it’s also a good sulfate-free option, instead using a gentle coconut-based surfactant for cleaning purposes.
Best Charcoal Toothpaste: Hello Oral Care Activated Charcoal Teeth Whitening Toothpaste
Activated charcoal is created from carbon-rich materials burned at high temperatures, like coal, coconut shells, and wood. In skincare, there are claims that it binds to and removes impurities from the skin, but more research is needed.
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.
Best for Sensitive Teeth: Go Smile Teeth Whitening Snap Packs
Commit to using these for 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 seven days. Each one contains a special, non-sensitizing gel that won’t hurt teeth or gums, but still works super effectively, with some results noticeable in as little as one day.
Best Toothpaste Topper: LINHART Tooth Whitener Gel
Turn your favorite toothpaste into a whitening toothpaste with this convenient topper. The hydrogen peroxide-based gel can be dabbed on top of any toothpaste, instantly giving it a brightening boost. Also nice: 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.
Best Floss: Spotlight Oral Care Dental Floss for Whitening Teeth
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.
Best for Aligners: Byte BrightByte
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 a 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?
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 WhiteBrilliane Toothpaste is gold class. Just switch your regular toothpaste out for this one and you’re golden.
What to look for when buying teeth whitening products
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.
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.