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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Shopping guide for best whitening mouthwash

Last Updated May 2019

Everybody wants a brighter smile, but flashing pearly whites isn’t possible when teeth have lost their natural color due to surface stains. Such discolorations are common, especially after years of eating and drinking certain foods or smoking. Fortunately, there are products that can help improve the appearance of stained teeth, including a whitening mouthwash.

It’s easy to get the benefits from a whitening mouthwash by simply adding a little rinse time to your daily oral hygiene routine. Dedicated use with a quality product can fade surface stains on teeth, revealing a whiter smile. While whitening mouthwash may not provide all the desired results for users with severely stained teeth, using one daily can improve a dull smile for most individuals, as well as offer the added benefit of freshening the breath.

Maybe you’ve never used a whitening mouthwash and aren’t quite sure what to expect. Or perhaps you’re confused by the different brands and their active ingredients. If you’re ready to give your smile a whitening boost, check out the information, tips, tricks, and answers to consumer questions that we’ve compiled below in this handy shopping guide. When you’re ready to buy, check out our top picks.

Is there a brand of oral hygiene products that you prefer? Chances are the company has a whitening mouthwash in its line of tooth-, mouth-, and gum-care items.

Key considerations

Causes of surface stains on teeth

Teeth are covered in enamel, the hard outer surface that protects teeth from developing cavities and contributes to their white appearance. However, enamel is susceptible to losing its bright appearance over time.

  • Foods: Eating foods that are dark in color can stain the surface of the teeth.

  • Beverages: Coffee, tea, and red wine can also leave their mark, making teeth look dull or gray. Additionally, the acid content in such drinks can erode the enamel with frequent exposure, making the surface of the teeth more susceptible to staining.

  • Tobacco: Smoking is also likely to result in tooth enamel taking on a yellowish hue because the substances in tobacco can build up and cause a white smile to lose its luster.
     

How whitening mouthwash can help

  • Peroxide: Most whitening mouthwashes contain peroxide, which is a known whitening agent. Scientifically speaking, peroxide works by breaking down molecules within substances that have stained tooth enamel. Although it’s the most effective ingredient in mouthwashes that are formulated to lighten or partially remove stains, its extended use can be irritating for some users, resulting is sore gums or sensitive teeth.

  • Barrier: Although not as effective as whitening mouthwashes that contain peroxide, some formulas take a different approach to keeping smiles looking their best. Instead of harsh ingredients, these whitening mouthwashes are made to prevent staining by building a barrier on tooth enamel. They are often recommended for use with other products such as whitening toothpaste or treatments, and are designed to maintain results.

Stronger, whiter teeth

Crest has a reputation for making quality oral health products, and the brand’s Pro-Health Advanced Extra Whitening Mouthwash is no exception. It’s made with peroxide and fluoride, so it whitens and strengthens teeth. It creates a foamy consistency that some consumers may not like, but this feature is an indication of its whitening action. It also has a fresh mint flavor that tastes great and freshens breath and doesn’t tend to burn like some mouthwashes do.

How to use whitening mouthwash

Be consistent: Using a rinse that’s made for whitening teeth is similar to using traditional mouthwash. For the best results, it’s typically recommended to swish whitening mouthwash twice a day for 60 seconds followed by a rinse with water. Not eating or drinking for about 30 minutes after use will further enhance the results.

Add it to your oral hygiene routine: Most whitening mouthwash brands recommend adding this ritual your regular brushing and flossing times. It’s also best to rinse following brushing, and it’s thought that following this sequence will allow the product to fight stains more effectively. However, some users swear by rinsing with a whitening mouthwash prior to brushing.

Be patient: It’s also important to stick with it once you start using a whitening mouthwash to get the results you want. While some brands advertise that you can see results within days, it’s not uncommon for it to take weeks or months of rinsing for stains to fade and teeth to take on a whiter appearance. As with any product, you should read and follow the instructions on the packaging because these can vary from brand to brand.

Pros and cons of using whitening mouthwash

Are you ready to try a whitening mouthwash to see if you can improve the appearance of your smile? With the right brand and formula, there’s a good chance you will end up with noticeable results. However, using a whitening mouthwash does come with a few good and bad points to consider.

Pros

  • Easy to use and add to your daily oral care routine.

  • Different formulas to suit different needs.

  • Various flavors.

  • Other benefits (freshen breath, improve gum health, reduce plaque).

  • Fights cavities (formulas with fluoride).

  • Not expensive.
     

Cons

  • Peroxide can cause tooth sensitivity and irritation of the mouth, tongue, and gums.

  • Mouthwashes without peroxide are less irritating but also less effective.

  • Some formulas don’t have a very pleasant flavor.

  • Results can be disappointing, especially for users with deep, severe stains.

  • Results can take time.

  • Many formulas contain alcohol, which can cause a stinging sensation.
EXPERT TIP

If you don’t like the flavor of a whitening mouthwash, don’t give up. Not all formulas taste the same. With a little trial and error, you’re likely to find one you enjoy.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results right away. It can take weeks or months to see optimal results from a mouthwash, especially if you have heavily stained teeth.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Keep in mind that whitening mouthwashes are just as effective at freshening breath as traditional formulas. Frequent use can also enhance gum health and keep cavity-causing plaque from building up on teeth.


Staff  | BestReviews

Whitening mouthwash features

Although brands and formulas differ, the goal of each whitening mouthwash is the same – to make smiles whiter and brighter and help improve oral health. The various features of these products are why these results are possible.

Brands: Whitening mouthwash is available from many brands. Some are quite recognizable compared to others, with some obscure names making specialized rinses, such as those containing natural ingredients.

Powerful formulas: For consumers who are less worried about irritation or tooth sensitivity, there are whitening mouthwashes that are geared toward producing noticeable results quickly and effectively. Hydrogen peroxide is almost always the active ingredient in these rinses.

Additional benefits: In addition to whitening teeth, these mouthwashes also contain a combination of ingredients that protect against future staining. Some varieties are also made with fluoride to strengthen enamel for an added boost in cavity protection. Flavors such as mint are usually added for a bonus breath-freshening effect.

Packaging: As you shop for whitening mouthwash, you will find that it most commonly comes in generous bottles ranging in size from approximately 16 to 32 ounces. Some brands include a large cap that can double as a cup for rinsing.

Whitening mouthwash prices

As mentioned above, including a whitening mouthwash in your oral care routine is pretty affordable. Some brands cost less than $4, but for a quality rinse by a trusted brand you should expect to pay between $5 and $6. Some brands cost more than $6 up to about $20, but these are often special formulas that don’t necessarily deliver better whitening results than less costly mouthwashes.

Alcohol-free powerhouse

Colgate is another reputable brand known for producing healthy smiles, and its Optic White Whitening Mouthwash also makes them look great. You get a generous 32-ounce bottle of mouthwash made with 2% peroxide to deliver results fast. It’s also not likely to sting or burn, and it’s formulated to protect teeth from future stains – in other words, you get a lot of bang for your buck with this whitening mouthwash.

Tips

  • Use a mouthwash with peroxide for best results. If you’re hoping to tackle moderate stains, you’ll get the best results from a whitening mouthwash that contains peroxide. As a rule of thumb, rinses should contain at least 1.0% to 1.5% peroxide to be effective.

  • Don’t use regular hydrogen peroxide as a mouthwash. Resist the urge to use hydrogen peroxide instead of a commercial brand made for the purpose of whitening teeth because it can cause gum and mouth irritation as well as sensitive teeth.

  • Be careful not to swallow whitening mouthwash. It can cause stomach upset. This is more likely to occur if the mouthwash contains peroxide, an irritant.

  • Rinse your mouth with water after using whitening mouthwash. This is especially important if it contains peroxide. This will cut down on the likelihood of tooth sensitivity or mouth irritation.

  • Take a selfie of your smile before using a whitening mouthwash. Take more selfies after several weeks and months of use to compare your results.

  • Check with your dentist before using a whitening mouthwash. This is particularly important if you have any concerns about your oral health, such as cavities, bleeding gums, or mouth sores.

Other products we considered

Not everyone wants to use a whitening mouthwash that contains harsh or artificial ingredients. Although we considered top-name brands proven to produce good results for many users, there are other available options that are composed primarily of natural ingredients. Bee Naturals Whitening Pre-Brush Oral Rinse is made with natural ingredients like glycerin and peppermint oil, and is sweetened with stevia. However, it does contain peroxide, so you can expect results similar to top-selling rinses. The downside is the price – nearly $20 for 16 ounces. We also like Hello Oral Care Activated Charcoal Teeth Whitening Mouthwash. It doesn’t have artificial ingredients, plus it uses activated charcoal, known for its whitening properties, instead of peroxide. It’s affordable, too. You get three 16-ounce bottles for a decent price. We also love that both of these products are Leaping Bunny certified as cruelty-free and not tested on animals.

Tooth enamel is a made of minerals, mainly hydroxyapatite, which gives enamel its strength. It’s even stronger than bone, making it the hardest part of the human body.

FAQ

Q. How often should I use a whitening mouthwash?

A. In order to get the best results, you should rinse with it at least twice a day, every day. Most experts recommend rinsing after brushing.

Q. I’m considering a whitening mouthwash that contains peroxide because I want noticeable results. What should I do if I develop tooth sensitivity?

A. Sensitivity is a common result of using mouthwash with peroxide, and can begin with a tingling or pain sensation around affected teeth. Although it will diminish the effectiveness, stop using your mouthwash for a few days if you notice pain. If the problem recurs and persists once you resume using the mouthwash, the best plan for you may be to switch to a peroxide-free product.

Q. Can I use a whitening mouthwash with other teeth whitening products?

A. Absolutely! In fact, a routine that includes using a whitening toothpaste as well as occasionally applying whitening strips is a good plan for achieving your whitest smile possible.

The team that worked on this review
  • Alvina
    Alvina
    Photographer
  • Amos
    Amos
    Director of Photography
  • Branson
    Branson
    Videographer
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Production Assistant
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Kailey
    Kailey
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Vukan
    Vukan
    Post Production Editor

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