At-home teeth whitening kits are a more accessible alternative to professional whitening treatments, which can deliver instant and more dramatic results but at a higher price. DIY teeth whiteners can include whitening strips, trays, gels, pens, toothpastes, mouthwashes and LED lights as accelerators, which can provide noticeable effects both immediately and with use over time. “They use various chemical or abrasive agents to lighten or remove stains on your teeth to make them appear whiter,” explains Marina Gonchar, DMD, orthodontist and owner of Skin to Smile in Morristown, New Jersey.
To find the best over-the-counter teeth whitening products that really work and rival professional treatments, Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab scientists rigorously evaluate them on consumer testers for factors such as ease of use, sensitivity and lightening of tooth color. Ahead, GH Beauty, Health & Sustainability Lab and dental experts share everything you need to know about the top at-home teeth whitening kits and treatments that are worth it, including options for sensitive teeth.
Crest 3D Whitestrips Professional Effects Teeth Whitening Strips Kit
True to its claim of professional-level whitening, these Crest Whitestrips are the GH Beauty Lab’s gold standard for smile brightening. Lab evaluations found that after 20 days of daily use, they lightened teeth a noticeable two to four shades. The strips simply stick on teeth and can be worn during daily activities for convenience. (Note that they must applied for 45 minutes to achieve best results and some reviewers experienced discomfort during use.)
They are touted by dental professionals, too: “These strips are the most effective at-home teeth whitening product,” says Michael J. Wei, DDS, FIADFE, a cosmetic dentist in New York City. “They are designed to remove tough stains from coffee, tea and smoking, and they’re easy to use, since they don’t require any special trays or gels.” Ellen Katz, DDS, Co-Founder of Maison BE Dental Studio in New York City, also recommends this kit and Dr. Gonchar calls it “one of my personal favorite over-the-counter whitening products.”
Colgate Optic White Renewal Teeth Whitening Toothpaste
Get noticeably whiter teeth at a bargain price by just brushing with Colgate’s groundbreaking whitening toothpaste, a GH Beauty Award winner, which contains high levels of the bleaching active hydrogen peroxide. Data shows that this formula, with 3% hydrogen peroxide, can remove up to 10 years of yellow stains on teeth in four weeks of twice-daily use, GH Beauty Lab analysis confirmed.
Though it may take longer to see results than stronger treatments, GH’s Beauty Director found that it doesn’t cause any sensitivity and her teeth are noticeably whiter when using this versus other toothpastes. GH Beauty Assistant Catharine Malzahn is a fan of the Colgate Optic White Pro Series Whitening Toothpaste, which contains an even higher level of hydrogen peroxide (5%): “This toothpaste works just as well as the whitening strips I’ve tried, without any irritation at all,” she says. “It visibly whitened my teeth after just a couple weeks of brushing morning and night.”