These days, there are so many teeth whitening products on the market that the very idea of brightening your smile can become more overwhelming than exciting. Should you invest in teeth whitening kits or trays? Toothpaste or gel? Strips or pens? And which of the bajillion treatments available garner the best results—or any results at all?
Then there’s the biggest question of all:
Is it better to whiten your teeth at home or at the dentist’s office?
Well, that settles that—and let’s not forget how much money you’ll save. But still, which teeth whitening treatments are worth the money you do spend? Here, dental pros share their top product recommendations:
If you prefer a teeth whitening toothpaste, make sure it doesn't contain any harsh abrasives or irritating chemicals. "Otherwise, you lose healthy enamel, which can make your teeth yellower and possibly more sensitive in the long run," says Hugh Flax, DDS, of Flax Dental in Atlanta, Georgia. His top teeth whitening pick? Jason Natural PowerSmile Antiplaque & Whitening Toothpaste. It contains natural, gentle ingredients (such as bamboo powder and baking soda) to prevent tartar buildup while whitening and brightening your smile.
If you're happy to devote 30 minutes a day to a highly effective treatment, try Crest Whitestrips. They contain enamel-safe ingredients that don't cause sensitivity during wear, and they're the only whitening strips that have a seal of approval from the American Dental Association. They're easy to use, comfortable to wear, and yield excellent results for an OTC teeth whitening treatment, says Dovi Prero, board-certified orthodontist and member of the California Association of Orthodontists.
Prefer a portable whitener? Philips Sonicare whitening pens are a highly effective method of teeth whitening, says Toronto-based endodontist Gary Glassman, DDS. "Not only do they contain high quality teeth whitening gel, but they offer the most convenience and ease of application." They're also more effective than strips, Glassman adds, because they have a silicone rubber tip that can penetrate the enamel, allowing for the whitening gel to work on all layers of your teeth. Cha. Ching.
As far as teeth whitening kits go, Supersmile's 6 Minutes to a Whiter Smile kit is tough to beat because it safely whitens and re-mineralizes teeth, including dental restorations (bonding, caps, veneers, and dentures), says New York-based prosthodontist Bijan Gohari, DMD. This kit is also 75 percent less abrasive than the limit set by the American Dental Association, so you won't have to worry about teeth sensitivity rearing its ugly… molars.
Using charcoal as a teeth whitener sounds counterintuitive, but hear us out: The charcoal is abrasive, so it will remove any buildup and external stains, while serving as a little magnet to pull out the deeper ones, too. "An added benefit is that the charcoal will serve to raise the pH in your mouth, which can help protect your teeth from cavities, since they’re formed by acids on your teeth," says Alvarez. Use a food grade activated charcoal made from coconut or bamboo (certified organic is a plus), he suggests. Wet your toothbrush, dip it into the charcoal and lightly brush your teeth—again, charcoal is abrasive, so if you brush too hard it can damage or dull both your enamel and any dental restorations you may have. Keep rinsing your mouth until the water runs clear, then brush your teeth with your regular toothpaste.
Mastering how to whiten teeth when they're super-sensitive can be a tricky business. Fortunately, Sensodyne True White is 10 times less abrasive than many leading whitening toothpastes. The low-abrasion formula gently lifts stains from the surface of teeth, while also providing active stain protection that works to create a protective shield to help prevent new stains from sticking to the tooth's surface.