If you’re searching for the best whitening strips or otherwise looking to get whiter teeth, we’ve got you. Because no matter how thorough your basic brushing and flossing regimen is, that alone won’t get you pearly white teeth. It’d be a hell of a lot easier if things like coffee, tea, red wine, dark cola, and tomato sauce weren’t staining the teeth every day, but alas. None of us is going to give up any of those, so instead we’ve got to pick up a consistent teeth-whitening program if we want a brighter smile.
Whitening the teeth is something that can be done in short, targeted sessions, and discoloration can be abetted by incorporating specific anti-staining products into your existing oral-care regimen. The biggest step of proactively whitening the teeth is something that some people will only do with a dentist, since it involves removing enamel, exposing the tiny pores on the surface of the 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 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. And with that, here are the best products to help you whiten your teeth quickly, effectively, and safely.
1. Best Whitening Strips
The year Crest relinquishes this spot is the year hell freezes over. (That 20,000-voice chorus of Amazon reviews can’t be wrong.) 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.
2. Best Teeth-Whitening Gel
GLO Science’s tiny squeezable whitening vials go a long way, providing up to 28 gel applications with their hydrogen-peroxide formula. These are engineered to safely and significantly brighten your teeth in a week’s time. 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’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 leaving behind whiter teeth.
4. Best Teeth-Whitening Trays
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 Pen
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 Powder
Activated charcoal is a common ingredient in grooming, since it extracts impurities from the skin and teeth. When it comes to your smile, this means it pulls away staining agents (and can even steadily remove existing stains). Simply brush Laguna Moon’s powder into your mouth like toothpaste (some people even combine it with their paste) and it gives you a doubly effective cleaning.
7. Best Teeth-Whitening Kit
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.)
8. Best Teeth-Whitening Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth
While no toothpaste will single-handedly whiten your teeth, you can supplement your efforts with one that proactively helps those other tactics. Sensodyne is devised for people with gum or tooth sensitivity—which is anyone who, in the pursuit of brightness, must strip their own enamel and bleach their teeth. (So, that’s all of us reading this article.) Plus, it protects and fortifies tooth enamel, has fluoride to thwart cavities, and gently boosts the brightening process while freshening your smile.
9. Best Charcoal-Activated Floss
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 improve stain prevention and pull away the plaque and impurities that coat and color our teeth.
10. Best Budget LED Teeth-Whitening Kit
If you need to get rid of surface stains but don’t want to remove too much cash from your checking account, then invest smartly in this LED-powered mouth tray from AuraGlow. It delivers visible, lasting results after a single whitening treatment. Deploy it for just 30 minutes a day to safely remove plaque and discoloration. Don’t only take our word for it: check out the 20,000+ reviews on Amazon, complete with plenty of before-and-after pictures showcasing people’s results.