The Best Teeth Whitening Products You Can Buy, According To Dentists

And no, it's not a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, as TikTok may have you think.
Jose Luis Pelaez Inc via Getty Images

As you’re heading back to the office and getting together with friends again, you may want to brighten up your smile. And at-home teeth whitening products are more popular than ever these days.

Teeth whitening has always been popular with her patients, but dentist Courtney Hain, owner of a general and cosmetic dental practice in San Francisco, said she’s seeing more interest in whitening lately.

“Patients spending time on virtual meetings have noticed things that they would like to correct about their smiles, including the shade of their teeth,” she said. “In addition, many patients missed a cleaning or two during the pandemic, leading to an increased accrual of stain.”

Teeth whitening is also buzzing on social media. On TikTok, for example, #teethwhitening videos have been viewed more than 1 billion times. But not all the whitening advice on the site is good for you.

Some TikTok users have claimed that scrubbing your teeth with Mr. Clean Magic Erasers can whiten them quickly. Dentists strongly discourage this practice, however. The sponges are highly abrasive, which could damage tooth enamel, Hain said. They also contain chemicals not meant to be consumed and that could make you sick.

While you should skip the Magic Eraser, there are lots of safe and affordable at-home teeth whitening options out there. Here’s what the pros say are the best teeth whiteners.

First, here’s what you should know before whitening your teeth at home.

“Tooth whitening is something that we do in a healthy mouth situation, so it’s important to make sure that your teeth are healthy before launching into a whitening program,” said dentist Matthew Messina, a spokesperson for the American Dental Association.

If you have tooth decay, cavities, gum disease, periodontal disease, plaque or tartar buildup, or haven’t had your teeth professionally cleaned in a while, you might not see results from whitening and it could even cause irritation, Messina said. So it’s a good idea to visit your dentist regularly.

Artificial dental restorations, like bonding, crowns, veneers or implants, won’t change color with teeth whitening, said Catrise Austin, a cosmetic dentist in New York City and author of two books about teeth whitening.

Whitening also works better on some stain colors than others. Yellow tints respond best to whitening, but grayish or brownish hues not as much, Austin said. She recommended asking your dentist for a color analysis or purchasing a tooth color shade guide to identify your level of discoloration before you whiten.

The Best Teeth Whitening Products

The active ingredient in whitening products — used by dentists and available over-the-counter — is hydrogen peroxide, or a derivative called carbamide peroxide, said Austin, who recommends looking for hydrogen peroxide products. Dentists use products with a 16 to 40% concentration of hydrogen peroxide, but the ones available OTC usually have a much lower concentration.

“An over-the-counter product is going to work a little slower,” she said. “It will work, though. Read your labels. Find out what type of peroxide is in your product. If you can get a percentage, if it says it on the label, look at that.”

Using higher-concentration products without the supervision of your dentist increases the likelihood of sensitivity. If your teeth or gums become irritated after using a teeth whitening product, Messina suggested talking to your dentist.

Look for an ADA Seal of Acceptance on products, too. Messina said that indicates it has been independently tested and is safe and effective. And always follow a product’s instructions.

Here are the best teeth whitening products, according to dentists:

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Crest 3D White Supreme Whitestrips
Crest Whitestrips products contain hydrogen peroxide, the same ingredient used in dental office whitening products, Austin said. The 3D supreme version has one of the highest concentrations, she added, and works well for getting rid of yellow staining. It’s also enamel safe.

Get the Crest 3D White Supreme Whitestrips for $47.95.
Crest Whitening Emulsions Leave-On Tooth Whitening Kit with Whitening Wand
This whitening system includes an applicator wand for applying the whitening emulsion directly to your teeth. You leave it on and go. Dentist Beth Vander Schaaf, owner of Smile Arizona Dentistry in Scottsdale, Arizona, recommends the kit because the whitening agent is hydrogen peroxide.

Get the Crest Whitening Emulsions Leave-On Tooth Whitening Kit for $40.48.
Opalescence Go Teeth Whitening
Opalescence Go features trays pre-filled with a whitening gel of 10% or 15% hydrogen peroxide that you wear between 15 and 60 minutes per day. You don’t need to have an impression or mold made. However, Hain said, “Over-the-counter trays aren't always able to adapt well enough to crowded or rotated teeth.”

Get Opalescence Go Teeth Whitening Trays for $75.
GLO Brilliant Teeth Whitening Device
This system combines a hydrogen peroxide-based whitening gel and a mouthpiece featuring heat and LED light technology. The light and heat speed up the whitening process, Austin said. GLO recommends using the device for eight minutes, four times a day for five days.

Get the GLO Brilliant Teeth Whitening Device for $199.
Snow Teeth Whitening Kit
Austin is a fan of Snow, which boasts that its teeth whitening kit quickly removes smoking, coffee, soda and wine stains. It contains a whitening serum that you brush on your teeth and a mouthpiece featuring an LED light. The brand recommends leaving in the mouthpiece for 10 to 30 minutes.

Get the Snow Teeth Whitening Kit for $149.95.
Phillips Sonicare DiamondClean Smart Toothbrush
An electronic toothbrush can help remove and prevent surface stains, keeping your teeth white, Hain said. She recommends the Sonicare DiamondClean toothbrush, which features a built-in timer so you don’t cut your brushing short. Pair it with whitening toothpaste for the best brightening results. Vander Schaaf said Curaprox Black and Opalescence are her favorite whitening toothpastes because they’re low-abrasive.

Get the Phillips Sonicare DiamondClean Smart Toothbrush for $199.99.

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