Finding at-home teeth whiteners isn’t hard—just look at the zillions of options online. But finding good at-home teeth whitening products? The kind that’ll actually give you the bright, safe results you want? Yeah, that’s the challenge. Scroll through your social media feeds for five minutes and you’ll come across as many recommendations for whitening products as you do skincare supplements, but if you’ve ever been duped by a dumb ad before (haven’t we all), you might be a little suss about which ones actually work. So to find out what the best teeth whitening strips are and how they remove stains, we turned to cosmetic dentist Dr. Gregg Lituchy of LLK Dental.
Do whitening strips really work?
They can! But they gotta have the right ingredients. The most effective ingredient for bleaching the teeth is hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide (which breaks down into hydrogen peroxide). Dr. Lituchy explains that when the bleaching material is applied to the enamel of the teeth for a certain amount of time, the bleach can penetrate through the enamel into the inner dentin layer of the teeth. This is where the bleach breaks apart the dark molecules of stain deep inside the teeth, which then makes look whiter, brighter, and all that jazz.
And, generally speaking, whitening strips work better than other whitening products that quickly rinse off. As Dr. Lituchy explains it, the strips typically keep the bleach in contact with the enamel for around 20 minutes, which makes them much more effective than whitening toothpastes, rinses, and mouthwashes.
Can whitening strips ruin your teeth?
“Teeth whitening is safe, but some options may cause more of a sensitivity and irritation to the gums than others because of the percentage of hydrogen peroxide that is used in the whitening treatment,” Lituchy explains. “If done properly, there are no harmful long-lasting effects to the teeth and gums.” Of course, it’s always a good idea to run your at-home product by your dentist before using it, follow their instructions, and always read the manufacturer’s directions first.
Which teeth whitening strips work the best?
When it comes to determining the effectiveness of an at-home whitening product, Dr. Lituchy says there are two main factors to consider: the percentage of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide it contains, and the amount of time the bleach remains on the teeth. So with those key details in mind, we’ve rounded up the 13 best teeth whitening strips, kits, and products to help you strip those stains away.
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These Dentist-Approved Teeth Whitening Strips
Crest 3D White Whitestrips Supreme Flexfit Teeth Whitening Kit
I used Crest Whitestrips back in junior high when I got my braces off to even out some stains, and lemme tell ya, they worked. Now, it’s been a little bit since 8th grade (okay, a very long time), and these whitening strips have only improved since then. Dr. Lituchy loves them for the no-slip grip that stops them from sliding around, and the fact that the bleach within the strips remains in contact with the tooth enamel long enough to deliver noticeable results and really whiten your teeth.
These Gum-Protecting Whitening Strips
Spotlight Oral Care Dental Teeth Whitening Strips
As I said, I’ve used whitening strips a time or two in my life, and one drawback I’ve found is slight discomfort when the whitening formula comes in contact with your gums. Luckily, teeth whitening kits like this exist with the perfect solution: a comforting gum oil pen. After you’ve worn these strips (which contain hydrogen peroxide) for an hour, remove them and apply the oil included in this kit to soothe your gums.
This Whitening Pen and Strip Duo
Apa Beauty White Duo Teeth Whitening Kit
Whitening pens are great because they’re easy to use, but they’re not so great at keeping the product on the tooth long enough for it to really get to work, so whaddya do? You use this teeth-whitening kit that combines the ease of the pen with the protection of a strip. Paint the whitening solution (which uses carbamide peroxide) on the teeth, then wrap them with the strip (which also contains carbamide peroxide) for a one-two punch whitening.
This Whitening Toothpaste
SprinJene Original Organic White Boost Toothpaste
For the ultimate at-home teeth-whitening experience, Dr. Lituchy suggests using both whitening strips and whitening toothpaste. Although whitening toothpastes alone aren’t able to soak into the enamel and bleach the teeth, Dr. Lituchy says they work great in conjunction with whitening strips by removing stains and making the teeth appear whiter. This whitening toothpaste is ADA-approved and contains fluoride and black seed oil to protect the teeth and keep ’em healthy.
This Whitening Toothpaste Duo
Supersmile Professional Whitening System
While we’re on the topic of whitening toothpaste, check out this dental care duo that does more than make your breath smell good. Start with a squeeze of the whitening toothpaste, then add a bit of the whitening accelerator (which contains hydrogen peroxide), and brush your teeth as normal. All the products from this line are vegan, paraben-free, sulfate-free, super gentle, and great for sensitive teeth.
These Affordable Teeth-Whitening Strips
Burst Teeth Whitening Strips with Coconut Oil
Twenty bucks is still a good amount of money to spend on oral care products, but in the world of teeth whitening, it’s pretty much a bargain. All these strips (which use 6 percent hydrogen peroxide and coconut oil) need is 15 minutes to get after coffee stains, wine stains—you name it.
These Flavored Whitening Strips
Zimba Teeth Whitening Strips
If you find yourself trying not to move your mouth the entire half-hour that you’re wearing strips because you hate the taste, you need these flavored strips. With tons of options like peppermint, spearmint, mint, and wintergreen to choose from, you might actually find a whitening strip you like to wear.
These Fuss-Free Whitening Strips
Moon Dissolving Whitening Strips
I don’t need my oral care to look cool and sleek, but hey, I’m not opposed to it either. These strips are more than just pretty packaging though. If you skip whitening treatments because you can’t be bothered to go through the process, try these dissolvable ones. Apply the strips as usual, allow the hydrogen peroxide to do its thing and then after 15 minutes, the strip will simply dissolve away so you don’t even have to rip ’em off.
These Whitening Strips for Sensitive Teeth
Crest 3D Whitestrips Sensitive Teeth Whitening Kit
If your teeth are way too sensitive for most whitening strips, try this kit, which is designed to *gently* remove stains without any of the stinging or tenderness you normally feel from regular strips.
These Express Teeth Whitening Strips
Fairywill Express Whitening Strips for Teeth
If you’ve got an hour to spare, try an express whitening strip like this one, which uses 8 percent peroxide to do the trick after two or three uses. If you have a hard time getting other strips to fold and fit snuggly around the shapes of your mouth and teeth, you’ll really appreciate how each of these strips has little V-shaped cutouts to make them easier to bend and wrap around the rows of teeth.
These Full-Coverage Whitening Strips
Rembrandt 1 Week Whitening Kit
These peroxide strips offer a whole lotta coverage, which is great for whitening not just the fronts of your teeth but also the backs to make your smile appear even whiter and brighter from all angles.
This Teeth Whitening Kit With LED Light
AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Kit with LED Light
Let’s be honest, if you don’t like wearing the product, you’re going to want to use it. If you hate applying strips and prefer to use a tray instead, try this at-home teeth whitening kit. Fill the tray with the whitening gel (made with 35 percent carbamide peroxide), then let it get to work.
This Charcoal Tooth Powder
Dirt Don’t Hurt Tooth Powder with Activated Charcoal
Many who prefer a peroxide-free whitening treatment opt for a charcoal toothpaste instead. A natural toothpaste or tooth powder like this relies on abrasive ingredients to scrub away extrinsic stains aka surface-level stains.
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