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What you need to whiten teeth at home

How to whiten teeth at home

In-office whitening treatments can be expensive, so many people turn to at-home teeth whitening to save money. With nearly hundreds of products on the market — from whitening strips to whitening mouthwash — there’s no shortage of options.

Finding the best at-home teeth whitening treatment involves a little trial and error. Some people prefer products that deliver rapid results, while others seek gentler treatments that are less likely to trigger tooth sensitivity. Price remains a top concern, and fortunately, there are home teeth whitening products to fit every budget.

How does teeth whitening work?

Teeth whitening is a topical treatment that makes teeth appear brighter and whiter by removing stains or discoloration.

Most teeth whitening products, such as Crest Whitestrips, contain hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide as active ingredients. These ingredients may remove surface and deep-set stains on teeth. Some newer teeth whitening products use activated charcoal, which is mildly abrasive and may absorb some types of stains.  

Teeth whitening results

Shade improvement

Results in teeth whitening are often discussed in terms of shade improvement or how many shades whiter teeth appear. On average, teeth may end up a couple or a few shades brighter once treatment is complete.

How long it takes to see results

Depending on how strong the formula is, teeth whitening products may take anywhere from 24 hours to one month to see dramatic results.

Some manufacturers are clearer than others in terms of disclosing how long it takes to see results. Crest 3D White Whitestrips Vivid Plus, for example, claim they deliver full results within 10 days with noticeable shade improvements. Other products, like some whitening pens, may indicate they offer overnight brightening.

What impacts results of teeth whitening?

A number of variables impact how dramatic teeth whitening results may be. For that reason, it’s common to read mixed reviews regarding most of these products.

Deep-set stains or long-term discoloration, for example, may be harder to whiten and brighten. Those who experience light staining from coffee or wine drinking, on the other hand, may notice more dramatic results. Individuals with naturally brighter teeth shades may see significant improvements in tooth brightness.

How long results last with teeth whitening

Teeth whitening results last anywhere from three months to a couple of years. Many people seek to prolong results by using whitening oral care products, too. Tom’s of Maine Antiplaque & Whitening Toothpaste, for example, helps to remove surface stains.

With that said, the American Dental Association advises individuals to be careful with teeth-whitening products. Unfortunately, overuse of these products may contribute to increased tooth sensitivity, gum irritation or enamel damage. As a result, it’s often recommended to take breaks between whitening treatments when possible.

How much do teeth whitening products cost?

The most affordable teeth whitening products are pens, toothpaste and mouthwash, which cost $20 or less. Whitening strips range anywhere from $20 to $65, while LED whitening devices cost between $90 and $300.

How to whiten your teeth at home

Establishing a healthy oral care regimen

Before embarking on a teeth whitening journey, make sure the rest of your oral care regimen is in check.

Because mild tooth sensitivity is common after teeth whitening, many people switch to toothbrushes for sensitive teeth. This Sensodyne toothbrush, for example, is appreciated for its soft, flexible bristles.

For those seeking a more comprehensive brushing experience, electric toothbrushes, such as the Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100, are ideal. This model is even suitable for brushing around braces, veneers and crowns.

Traditional flossing may leave behind plaque and food particles. A water flosser, such as this popular Waterpik model, uses streams of water to gently yet effectively blast away buildup.

Whitening strips

Whitening strips are considered a user-friendly way to whiten teeth. The strips are worn for five to 25 minutes, depending on the formula. One of the pitfalls, however, is that whitening strips often trigger tooth sensitivity.

Crest 3D White Luxe Glamorous White Whitestrips

A crowd favorite, this Crest 3D Whitestrips kit is easy to use and requires only 30 minutes of wear time daily. The whitening and brightening results may last up to a year.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Zimba Teeth Whitening Strips

Zimba’s whitening strips are an affordable option and deliver pro-grade results. The enamel-safe formula is gentle on sensitive teeth and gums.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Lumineux Teeth Whitening Strips

Popular for removing wine, coffee and tea stains, these strips offer noticeable results in less than one week. The enamel-safe formula whitens without making teeth sensitive.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

LED teeth whiteners

LED teeth whitening kits include a light tray and gel. These trays are worn for 30 to 60 minutes and may offer more dramatic effects than whitening strips. However, LED whitening kits remain one of the more expensive options on the market.

Snow Teeth Whitening Kit  

This LED whitening kit is suitable for sensitive teeth as well as dental work. It’s praised for its nine-minute treatment, making it one of the fastest-working options on the market.

Where to buy:  Sold by Amazon 

Crest 3D Whitestrips with Light

Crest’s new LED whitening kit maximizes whitening and brightening compared to Whitestrips alone. Results are considered dramatic and may last up to three years.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

VieBeauti Teeth Whitening Kit

This affordable whitening system uses a dentist-grade 35% carbamide polymer gel whitener and a powerful LED light.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Whitening toothpaste

Whitening toothpaste is formulated with abrasive ingredients as well as whitening or bleaching agents. They’re available in a wide variety of formulas and preferences and even come in varieties for sensitive teeth. Unfortunately, they’re more expensive than regular toothpaste.

Crest 3D White Brilliance Toothpaste

A powerful, long-lasting formula, this whitening toothpaste keeps stains at bay for up to 24 hours and contains fluoride to prevent cavities.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening Toothpaste

This sensitive teeth-friendly formula also works to reharden and strengthen enamel. It’s effective at removing new, superficial stains from coffee and wine.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Arm & Hammer Advanced White Extreme Whitening Toothpaste

Formulated with peroxide and baking soda, this toothpaste protects teeth from new stains. It neutralizes acids that weaken and erode enamel as well.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Whitening mouthwash 

Whitening mouthwash typically contains hydrogen peroxide and other whitening or bleaching ingredients. Like whitening toothpaste, there are many varieties on the market. According to some users, however, using whitening mouthwash on a daily basis may irritate teeth and gums.

Colgate Optic White Whitening Mouthwash

Because this formula is enamel-safe and alcohol-free, there’s no afterburn when you rinse. It also promises to be gentle on gums.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Listerine Healthy White Vibrant Multi-Action Fluoride Rinse

It only takes around 5 days to see whitening results with this fluoride mouthwash. The anticavity formula also fights bad breath with a fresh, clean flavor.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

ACT Whitening + Anticavity Fluoride Mouthwash

Considered a gentle formula, this ACT mouthwash whitens without common irritants like alcohol and dyes. It removes surface stains and with prolonged use, it strengthens enamel.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Whitening pens

Whitening pens are formulated with many of the same ingredients as whitening strips, including hydrogen peroxide. They’re travel-friendly and easy to use, and they may offer mild yet instantaneous results. However, some of these pens are known for their aftertastes.

Colgate Optic White Overnight Teeth Whitening Pen

This Colgate whitening pen is filled with a quick-drying serum that doesn’t leave a sticky residue. It’s vegan, gluten-free and sugar-free.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Venus Visage Teeth Whitening Pen

Thanks to the tapered brush of this whitening pen, it’s easy to apply the whitening serum to all nooks and crannies. The formula offers fast, long-lasting results.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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