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Published Aug. 10, 2021

If your pearly whites aren’t as white as they once were, help is at hand. Age, stains, and genetics all play a role in the color of your teeth. But the best whitening strips can help remove those stains and brighten your smile. You can go about your business (at home) while wearing the strips. Plus, they’re more affordable and convenient than teeth-whitening treatments at the dentist’s office.  

A number of personal factors affect the strips that will work best for you. The size of the strip, the ingredients in the whitening gel, and even the flavor of the gel can influence if you’ve found the right whitening treatment. We’ve rounded up some of the fastest, best-tasting, and most effective teeth-whitening kits to brighten your smile. 

How do teeth-whitening strips lighten your smile?

Tooth discoloration can stem from a number of causes. Some people naturally have thicker enamel and whiter teeth, while others may suffer from trauma in childhood that affects the development of enamel. And some medications can also change tooth color. 

Behavior and habits can also affect your tooth color. Poor oral hygiene, or not brushing your teeth regularly, can allow plaque and stains to yellow the teeth. Smoking, tobacco, and coffee consumption can stain the teeth, too. The teeth also naturally lose their enamel over time, exposing the yellower dentin underneath. 

No matter the cause, the best teeth-whitening strips can help. Whitening strips have a whitening gel that may contain hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, or a mix of natural essential oils on one side of the strip. The gel side of the strip is applied to the teeth up to the gumline. (Strips should never be placed directly on the gums.) The strip is pressed into the crevices and wrapped around all of the teeth. 

Some strips come as a teeth-whitening kit that includes strips, multiple solutions, trays, and sometimes lights to aid the whitening process. Whitening kits may also come with additional whitening treatments and products to protect and strengthen the teeth. 

Related: Keep your mouth clean and bacteria-free with the best electric toothbrushes

What size whitening strips should I look for?

The best whitening strips fit your teeth well, reaching from the gum line to around the back of the tooth. Each brand and make within different whitening lines have strips of different widths and lengths. 

Larger, longer strips offer a better fit for most people because you want even whitening across the tooth’s surface. Some strips also feature contour cuts to give a closer fit on the upper teeth. Strips that don’t quite reach the gum line or can’t successfully wrap around to the underside of the teeth can leave spotty results. 

Best fit and coverage: REMBRANDT 1 Week Teeth-Whitening Kit

Maximum Coverage

The REMBRANDT strips pack a lot of whitening power into each notched strip. REMBRANDT

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The REMBRANDT 1 Week Teeth-Whitening Kit gets big points for the shape and design of the whitening strips. They’re wider and longer than average to mimic the coverage of a tray. The strips also feature a notched design for a snugger fit and better shaping to the upper teeth. REMBRANDT also does its whitening in seven days rather than the usual 14 or more of other kits.

Do teeth-whitening strips irritate sensitive teeth?

Whitening strips have been known to cause tooth sensitivity. Formulas that contain hydrogen peroxide can cause pain. Hydrogen peroxide gradually whitens the teeth, with most formulas that contain it having around 10 percent hydrogen peroxide. Unfortunately, the chemical can also cause sensitivity or irritate already sensitive teeth. Some whitening strips have a higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide than others and can potentially damage the gums or tooth enamel. 

Whitening strips designed for sensitive teeth usually contain carbamide peroxide or natural whitening ingredients like essential oils. Without a “sensitive” formula, you could experience aching and sensitivity to cold and hot liquids and foods after using the whitening strips.

Best whitening strips for sensitive teeth: Lumineux Teeth-Whitening Strips

Gentle Whitening

Lumineux relies on all-natural whiteners to lighten your smile. Oral Essentials

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The Lumineux Teeth-Whitening Strips  do not contain hydrogen peroxide, which can cause pain for people with sensitive teeth. Instead, this company relies on natural ingredients, using a blend of coconut, sage, and lemon peel oils to whiten and brighten teeth. This mix doesn’t pose a risk to tooth enamel or the gums. The formula is vegan, preservative-, and sugar-free, too. 

What flavors are available for teeth-whitening strips?

Flavor has nothing to do with the whitening strip’s ability to change tooth color. However, it can make a big difference in your ability to use them. The flavor of whitening gel isn’t one you want to stick around after you’re done using the strips. And if it makes you gag while you’re using them, you might not be able to keep them in your mouth long enough for them to do their job. 

Most companies try to at least cover up the taste with some kind of mint flavoring. Mint works well, but if mint isn’t your thing, there are whitening strips in other flavors. A flavor that puts a stop to the gag reflex can make that 30 to 60 minute treatment time much easier.

Best flavors for teeth-whitening strips: Zimba Teeth-Whitening Strips

Delicious Flavor Variety

Zimba offers several whitening strip flavors, each with effective whitening power. Zimba

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Zimba Teeth-Whitening Strips come in seven flavors, including four mint variations, coconut, cinnamon, and peach. The all-natural flavorings do not contain any sugar. Each whitening kit includes strips specifically designed for either the upper or lower teeth. The gel and strip design adhere well to the teeth, so the strips don’t slip during treatment.

Smile-whitening kits provide extra brightening help

A basic set of whitening strips contains just that: strips only. A full teeth-whitening kit offers a few more options if the strips alone don’t get the job done. Kits may include extras like different types of whitening gels, fast-acting formulas, or whitening lights to help along the process. 

A kit may also include more than one round of whitening strips. The length of treatment time varies by brand, but it typically takes 14 to 28 days for a full treatment. Kits may also include several rounds of treatments or additional soothing treatments to work with the whitening strips.

Best whitening-strip kit: Crest 3D Whitestrips with Light

Deep Whitening

his kit includes a blue light that helps the whitening agent penetrate the tooth enamel. Crest

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Crest 3D Whitestrips with Light don’t waste time targeting yellow stains. This kit contains enough for ten days of whitening power (20 strips) and a blue light. The blue light helps the whitening power penetrate the tooth’s enamel for deeper whitening in less time. The light automatically shuts off on its own, so you don’t have to do any of the timing.  

Whitening on a budget still produces impressive results: Whitening for under $30

Whitening kits can get pricey, especially when you start adding lights and multiple treatment options. However, budget white strips and kits can be just as effective as more expensive strips. In the lower price range, you’re less likely to find add-ons like light blue lights or sensitive teeth formulas. What you will find are kits that whiten using hydrogen peroxide in their formulas. They’re effective and easy to use, but be careful if you have sensitive teeth.

Best budget whitening strips: Crest 3D Whitestrips Vivid Plus Teeth-Whitening Kit

Bargain Option

Crest’s 3D white strips come in two formulas for quick whitening options. Crest

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The Crest 3D Whitestrips Vivid Plus Teeth-Whitening Kit comes at an affordable price and offers a couple of whitening options. It includes 20 vivid plus treatments (ten days worth of strips) and two one-hour express treatments. The express treatments give you a quick boost in addition to the standard 30-minute treatment. If you’re low on time, as in you don’t have ten days to wait for a whiter smile or need a quick whitening boost, pop in an express treatment. 

FAQs

Q: Should you rinse after white strips?

You can rinse after using white strips. However, use a mouthwash to rinse off the leftover whitening formula.

Q: Do whitening strips really work?

Yes, whitening strips really work. They take anywhere from seven to 30 days to see full results, but many people notice whiter teeth after only a few treatments.

Q: Do you brush your teeth after whitening strips?

Wait to brush your teeth after whitening strips. Whitening gels can make the teeth susceptible to damage from an abrasive brush for about 30 minutes after treatment. If you have residue on your teeth, rinse with a mouthwash until you can safely brush your teeth. 

Final thoughts on shopping for the best whitening strips

The best whitening strips will cover your stains and give you results within several treatments. For the full effects, you’ll need to use the strips for the recommended time frame. Opt for palatable flavors or a sensitive-teeth formula if the typical kit doesn’t work for you. If you want whiter teeth and a perfect smile, whitening strips are the way to do it from home.

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