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Whether you’re looking to make a good first impression or just hoping for a confidence boost, almost everyone has wished for a nice set of pearly whites at some point in their lives. Teeth whitening doesn’t just make your teeth look nicer, either – a bit of teeth whitening can go a long way in helping you to feel better about your appearance, too.
The most common way of at-home teeth whitening is generally by using teeth whitening strips. After all, products like Crest 3D Teeth Whitening strips are super popular for a reason. They’re convenient, cheap, easy to use, and can be found in practically any drug or convenience store.
However, teeth whitening strips come with a variety of disadvantages, too. For instance, teeth-whitening strips are harsh on the surface of your teeth, reading to potential damage to the tooth enamel. For some individuals with sensitive teeth or gums, whitening strips may result in irritation or discomfort.
Fortunately, there are lots of alternative products to teeth whitening strips that are just as effective in helping you obtain that pleasing smile. Products such as tray-based teeth whitening kits, teeth whitening pens, teeth-whitening toothpaste, or even teeth-whitening mouthwash are similar affordable options for teeth-whitening.
Here is everything you need to know about the best alternatives to teeth-whitening strips. I’ve even compiled a list of the best teeth-whitening products below, so you can choose a product to help whiten your teeth with confidence today.
My Bottom Line Up Front: You’ll want to be careful using any tooth whitening product, as overuse can harm your enamel. You also want to remember that many of these products aren’t a one-and-done kind of thing, so it’s important to build up good habits to remove those unwanted stains from your teeth.
That being said since I prefer to whiten my teeth as I brush them, my favorite product is the Crest 3D White Brilliance Toothpaste, though you can’t go wrong with adding in a whitening floss like Spotlight Oral Care Dental Floss for Whitening Teeth for a double-whammy of teeth-brightening action!
Other great options are:
- GLO Science Teeth Whitening Device – A Science-Backed Product!
- Go Smile Teeth Whitening Snap Packs – Great for Sensitive Teeth!
- Moon Activated Charcoal Whitening Toothpaste – Easy to Use and No Harsh Chemicals!
- Crest Whitening Emulsions Leave-on Teeth Whitening with Built-in Applicator – A Trusted Brand with a Great Product!
A Brief History of Teeth Whitening Products
While teeth-whitening may seem like a recent phenomenon, human beings have been using different methods to get cleaner, better-looking teeth for millennia.
The earliest evidence of deliberate teeth-whitening practices dates back to the ancient Egyptians over 4000 years ago. They used a mixture of ground pumice stone and wine vinegar to remove stains and discoloration on the surface of their teeth.
Several thousand years later, the Ancient Romans went even further in their pursuit of beautiful white teeth, rinsing their teeth in urine to use ammonia as a natural bleaching agent. By the 17th century, late-medieval Europeans had their teeth filed down before a harsh acid was applied to whiten them.
All three of these practices, while effective, led to erosion of tooth enamel, resulting in tooth decay. That said, you’ll be happy to know that teeth-whitening has come a long way since the Middle Ages.
Today, at-home teeth whitening products generally either use hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, two well-known teeth bleaching agents, as well as abrasive ingredients such as baking soda or activated charcoal to remove stains and whiten teeth.
While these ingredients are much more safe compared to what ancient humans used – not to mention more hygienic! – it’s important to remember that all teeth-whitening products have the risk of damaging your tooth enamel and should not be overused.
What Are the Benefits of Teeth Whitening?
Whitening your teeth may have more benefits than you think. Historically, teeth-whitening was connotated with the wealthy, rich, and powerful. Today, having beautiful, clean-looking teeth helps to make a better impression when meeting people.
Individuals with whitened teeth may be perceived as more clean, put-together, and professional. Whitened teeth can also just look better, too, helping to improve the attractiveness of your face and smile.
More important than the physical changes, however, teeth-whitening can help improve your mood, attitude, and mental health. Whitened teeth can help you seem more confident in yourself and speak more assertively without having to worry about whether or not your teeth are presentable.
Knowing your teeth are more beautiful can also help you to love your appearance more, improving your self-esteem and mental health. And of course, finally, teeth whitening can improve the health of your teeth.
By removing stains and other impurities on the surface of your teeth, you can make sure that the environment in your mouth is less prone to breeding bacteria or other harmful substances. Your teeth can also grow to be stronger without surface stains, although you should be careful to avoid stripping your teeth of enamel if you use teeth-whitening products too often.
The Main Differences Between Whitening Strips and Their Alternatives
While most teeth-whitening products work in roughly the same way, whitening strips are different in a few key ways. Here are some of the main differences between whitening strips and alternative teeth-whitening products such as whitening toothpaste, gel kits, and pens.
- Whitening strips adhere directly to the teeth, whereas the alternatives work around your entire mouth.
- Whitening strips may contain harsher chemicals, whereas the alternatives can be much gentler.
- Whitening strips may not be as effective, whereas the alternatives are generally more powerful.
Let’s go ahead and break down these key differences a little bit more.
Their Methods of Application
This one is relatively obvious. While most whitening products come into contact with your teeth through moving around the mouth, whitening strips need to essentially be taped directly to the surface of your teeth to work.
This means that applying whitening strips requires greater precision compared to using alternative products. Misapplying whitening strips can result in accidentally bleach the bed of your gums. Alternatives to whitening strips tend to be much easier to use, such as simply being included in your regular toothpaste or mouthwash.
Even other similar whitening products that come into direct contact with your teeth, such as whitening gel trays, require less precision when applying since the trays are designed to avoid your gums. Whitening strips can also be more uncomfortable and may even irritate the gums if misapplied.
How Gentle They Are
Due to their adhesive nature, whitening strips can have a more severe effect on the enamel of your teeth, particularly if they’re applied for too long. You should always observe the recommended time limits for any teeth-whitening product.
All teeth-whitening products use bleaching and abrasive components that may harm the health of your teeth if exposed for too long. That being said, whitening strips can be particularly damaging to your teeth, so it’s important to remove them after the appropriate amount of time.
By contrast, most alternative teeth whitening products don’t adhere to your teeth, meaning that it becomes much more difficult to overexpose your teeth to the abrasive or corrosive ingredients.
Whitening mouthwashes and toothpaste are rinsed out shortly after you use them, and even teeth-whitening trays are less likely to be left stuck to your teeth for too long since they’re very obvious when they’re in your mouth.
Their Overall Effectiveness
Several factors may limit the effectiveness of whitening strips. Whitening strips have to be applied for between 20-60 minutes per day, for at least two weeks, before effects can be seen.
It can be easy to forget to apply whitening strips, compared to a product that can be used as a more regular part of your dental hygiene routines, such as whitening toothpaste and mouthwashes. Additionally, over-the-counter whitening strips usually come in much less potency compared to dentist-prescribed whitening products or dental whitening trays.
You may also be able to achieve better results through professional whitening treatments. However, these professional treatments tend to cost a lot more money and require specialist equipment and staff to carry out the procedures.
The Six Best Teeth Whitening Products Available
I know you’re excited to see my top six picks as alternatives to teeth whitening strips. However, before I dive directly into it, I wanted you to know what my selection criteria were for including a particular product on my list.
What Was My Selection Criteria?
For our list of the best alternative products to teeth whitening strips, I evaluated a wide range of different products, including whitening toothpaste, mouthwashes, gel kits, pens, and others. With that in mind, this was my evaluation criteria:
Each of the products included on the list below had to perform exceptionally in at least one category to be considered, and adequately in the other two. I also tried to test a variety of different teeth whitening strip alternatives so that you can pick the type of product that suits your particular needs.
It can be a good idea to speak to your dentist about which teeth-whitening product is right for you. Some teeth whitening products are more severe on the surface of your teeth compared to others and can be dangerous to use if you already have a thin tooth enamel.
As with any medical product, get advice from a medical professional before use! Without further ado, here are the best alternatives to teeth whitening strips available on the market today.
This gel-based teeth-whitening kit might sound like something out of a science fiction novel, but its results are undeniable. GLO’s Science Teeth Whitening Device uses a specially formulated whitening gel.
Combined with light and heat applied through a device, you can control with your smartphone to mimic professional whitening treatments at home and instantly improve the look of your teeth and remove stains.
This device is the most expensive on this list, but for good reason. Almost no at-home product will give you the effectiveness that the GLO Science Teeth Whitening Device offers. With just three uses over seven days, I was able to notice visibly whiter teeth.
Other fans of this device have reported similar results. The device also comes with a protective lip balm, to ensure that the more sensitive parts of your mouth are protected from direct light and heat.
Best of all, you’ll find refills for this device at a surprisingly affordable price for three vials readily available on online retailers such as Amazon. This means that you’ll be able to use the device long after you exhaust the initial batch of whitening gel, vital for a product that costs hundreds of dollars.
While pricey, the GLO Science Teeth Whitening Device genuinely works wonders, with the clinical testing and science to prove it.
- Highly effective
- Easy to use at home
- Cheap refills
- Product is expensive
- Requires you to specifically make time to use it
- May cause discomfort to sensitive teeth
While Crest is best known for its aggressively marketed whitening strips, the company’s 3D White Brilliance Toothpaste provides results that appear just as effective as their whitening strips, if not better!
Some users have reported that after regularly using Crest 3D White Brilliance Toothpaste, their teeth have gotten more white than just using whitening strips. Considering you can get a pack of three tubes of this toothpaste for just about half the price of what a pack of Crest Whitening Strips costs, I’d call that a bargain for sure!
You also won’t have to worry about accidentally leaving whitening strips on for too long or forgetting to apply any treatment, since Crest’s 3D White Brilliance Toothpaste can simply replace the regular toothpaste you use every day.
It’s important to note, however, that Crest 3D White Brilliance Toothpaste is only able to remove stains on the exterior of your teeth. On the other hand, other treatments (such as gel-based whitening products) are designed to penetrate and remove interior stains underneath the surface of the teeth, as well.
Nevertheless, Crest boasts up to 100% stain removal in just five days of use, and while I can’t say for sure that it’s 100%, my teeth looked better!
- Inexpensive to purchase
- Easy to incorporate into your daily routine
- No risk of irritating gums with regular brushing
- Not as effective as more expensive solutions
- May require frequent re-purchases
- Contains phosphates and other synthetic chemicals
While almost all teeth-whitening products focus on removing stains from the front-facing surfaces of your teeth, very few products can remove those pesky stains in between teeth.
That’s where the Spotlight Oral Care Dental Floss for Whitening Teeth comes in! This high-quality dental floss is infused with hydrogen peroxide dental bleach. That way, you can whiten the crevices between your teeth just as effectively as the rest.
Spotlight’s teeth-whitening floss is another product that makes a great addition to a person’s dental hygiene routine without fundamentally adding a new task to remember in the middle of the day, as it can simply replace your ordinary floss.
If you don’t already floss daily, Spotlight Oral Care Dental Floss for Whitening Teeth is a great reason to start, since you’ll be improving the appearance of your teeth in addition to removing debris stuck between your teeth that can lead to greater bacteria production and cavities.
Flossing is also better for the health of your gums, which can start to become inflamed or even recede if unmaintained for long enough. While the whitening feature of this dental floss is more subtle than other products on this list, after a week of use I noticed some improvements.
Spotlight’s dental floss is also designed to be gentle on your gums, which is a godsend for those used to cheap floss that can cut through your gums if you’re not careful.
- More comfortable than other flosses
- Conveniently replaces a common dental product
- Designed to limit gum irritation
- Effect not as visible compared to front-whitening products
- Lacks a dispensing case, requires self-cutting
- Requires multiple purchases
Let’s face it. Teeth-whitening tends to be a pain (quite literally!) for those of us who suffer from sensitive teeth. Most teeth-whitening products use abrasive and harsh substances that may cause pain and irritation for individuals with sensitive teeth and gums.
If that’s you, however, don’t despair – because Go Smile Teeth Whitening Snap Packs may be just the right product for you! Specially designed with a non-sensitizing whitening gel, this whitening pen removes stains extremely efficiently while remaining gentle enough that it won’t disturb sensitive teeth or gums.
I found that the gel this product used was a lot more effective than most other competitors, as well, which was surprising since it is so non-irritating. Yet, after just a week of use, fans of this product were raving about how much their teeth had improved.
To get that result though, you’ll have to remember to use the applicators that hold the whitening gel twice a day, after you brush your teeth in the morning and the evening.
While whitening pens aren’t the most convenient thing in the world, they go a long way for the effort you put in, without the irritating effects of whitening strips to boot!
- Much less irritating for sensitive teeth compared to other similar products
- Highly effective, quicker results compared to the competition
- Easy to use whitening kit, without electronics to worry about
- Disposable applicators create a lot of waste
- More expensive than some other whitening pens
Another great toothpaste option, this product by Moon which uses activated charcoal, an incredibly trendy ingredient for skincare and beauty products right now.
Activated charcoal removes surface-level stains and absorbs impurities from the surface of your teeth for whiter teeth over just a few weeks. Activated charcoal is both absorptive and abrasive, removing staining substances off the surface of your teeth with ease.
The rest of the toothpaste is also made out of extremely high-quality ingredients, which I love to see. A combination of black and green tea, cranberry, echinacea, ginseng, camu camu, dead sea salt, and various essential oils all combine in this toothpaste to create a formula that helps to remove stains on your teeth.
Additionally, this toothpaste provides you with various vitamins due to the nutrients of the botanical ingredients, as well as restoring the pH level of your mouth to reduce bacteria.
One word of warning: activated charcoal is more abrasive than most whitening ingredients that companies use, so it can damage your teeth’ enamel layer with continued use. Moreover, this particular charcoal toothpaste lacks the chemical fluoride, a vital ingredient in conventional toothpaste that acts to protect and harden the exterior of your teeth.
Fortunately, you can solve both of these issues by simply using this toothpaste together with your regular toothpaste. This product is also sulfate-free, cruelty-free, and vegan for a bonus.
- High-quality ingredients compared to other whitening toothpaste
- No synthetic chemicals or preservatives
- Beneficial to the bacterial microbiome in the mouth
- Few studies show the benefits of activated charcoal for teeth whitening
- Abrasive and may damage enamel over long term use
- Lacks fluoride, requires second toothpaste to protect teeth
Finally, rounding off the list I’ve returned to the tried and true giant of the teeth-whitening world. Crest’s Whitening Emulsions Leave-on Teeth Whitening with Built-in Applicator is admittedly a long name to describe a whitening pen, but the results are nothing to scoff at.
One of the easiest products on this list to use, you only need to rub the specially formulated whitening gel onto each tooth once and you’re done. The water-resistant gel will immediately begin to remove stains and work until it wears off.
How will you know when it’s worn off? Well, unfortunately, that’s one of the downsides of this product. Lots of users have complained that the gel feels a bit gloppy on the teeth, but that might be a small price to pay for truly fast, easy, and portable teeth whitening.
The formula for the gel Crest uses in this little miracle pen allegedly took over two decades to develop, and Crest claims it minimizes irritation due to teeth sensitivity, as well.
Whitening pens usually require a bit more presence of mind since they need to be reapplied throughout the day, but Crest at least makes that part easy with an ultra-portable application wand that will fit in any purse, bag, or even your jeans pocket if you’re in a rush.
You also won’t need to worry about overdoing the whitening, since the product is designed to stay on your teeth for long periods of time without harming the enamel underneath.
- Comes from a reputable brand
- Smaller applicator wand is perfect for on the go
- Less plastic waste due to reusable applicator
- The gel may feel uncomfortable in the mouth
- May be easy to forget to apply it during a busy day
My Best Use Tips
While most teeth-whitening products are safe so long as you follow the instructions for use, there are certain considerations you should keep in mind when using any teeth-whitening product. Here are some best use tips for deciding which teeth-whitening product is right for you, as well as how you should use it safely to help to minimize the chance of damaging your teeth.
1. Ask your dentist to make sure a product is right for you before using it.
The most important part of adopting a new dental product is always making sure that it’s safe for you to use. Consulting a medical professional is by far the best way of knowing how effective any given product will be for your situation and circumstances.
For example, your dentist can help you to avoid products that may hurt your teeth or lead to undesired side effects in case your teeth aren’t suited for that particular treatment. Additionally, speaking to your dentist about different dental products can be a good way of getting advice from your dentist on which products you should try to obtain your desired result.
Different products work differently for different teeth, and your dentist may even be able to prescribe medical-grade whitening products to help you achieve your perfect smile even quicker.
2. Think about your own habits and whether you have time to introduce a new routine.
Most teeth-whitening products involve some additional steps to your daily routine. While this change is minor for some products, such as whitening toothpaste, it can require a lot more attention in some cases, such as applying whitening strips or using a whitening kit.
Being aware of whether or not you’ll be able to make time for applying these products before you buy them can be a great way of avoiding wasting money on a product only to ignore the steps a few days into treatment.
Understanding your schedule and habits is also a good way of trying to determine which teeth-whitening solution is right for you. If you’re the type to forget to do things in the middle of the day, whitening toothpaste or mouthwash may be a much more useful investment.
Compared to a specialized tooth-whitening kit that requires finding time in the day to sit down for an hour, you’ll probably remember to use the product more. By understanding your habits, you can make the most out of your money.
3. Avoid combining different teeth-whitening products if you can help it.
While it might seem like combining different whitening products can only serve to make your teeth extra-white, that’s not the case. Overusing any teeth-whitening solution is a bad idea, as teeth whitening is inherently slightly damaging to the structure of your teeth.
Combining different products is especially dangerous since different products aren’t designed to work with each other. Your teeth are surrounded by a protective layer known as your enamel. This layer can easily be stripped from the surface of your teeth if you’re careless about the kinds of whitening products you use, and can never be regrown through natural means.
That’s why it’s very important that you follow the guidelines for using teeth-whitening products, and never use two independent whitening solutions together at the same time.
4. Try out different products to see which ones you like the most.
That being said, it can be a good idea to take the time to test out different styles of teeth-whitening products to see which one is right for you. You don’t want to invest hundreds of dollars in an at-home whitening solution only to find that it hurts your gums or it doesn’t work on your teeth, right?
Advice from dentists and other dental care professionals can help, but at the end of the day, you’ll have to do the work to figure out which whitening products work best for you.
A good way of doing this is purchasing small sample-sized versions of products first before buying them in bulk. While not all whitening products offer samples, a lot of them do. Use them once or twice before deciding which one you want to stick with to maximize results without wasting a ton of money while switching products.
Frequently Asked Questions
Answer: The waiting time before starting a teeth whitening treatment and visible results differ between types of products and even individual products themselves, but typically at-home teeth whitening treatments will take anywhere between one week and four weeks to show results.
Answer: While most tooth stains can be removed with at-home treatments, interior stains or imperfections in teeth appearance due to trauma may be more difficult to remove. Stains on the inside of your teeth can sometimes be removed through at-home means, but they may require more intensive or professional whitening treatments.
Answer: While many stains on your teeth can be removed just through ordinary brushing with a sonic or regular toothbrush, some stains require products specifically designed to remove teeth stains to eliminate.
However, to maximize your chances of removing residue on your teeth before they turn into stains, always brush for two minutes twice a day, after you wake up and before you go to bed. Even brushing for 30 seconds less can result in a greater increase in teeth stains, so don’t rush!
Answer: Enamel, the protective layer around your teeth, cannot regenerate on its own if it’s degraded or removed. Dentists and medical researchers are working on ways of recovering degraded enamel.
As of now, however, there is no mainstream or common practice of recovering tooth enamel, so be careful to avoid damaging what you have! Teeth with thin or non-existent layers of enamel appear more yellow and are much more prone to cavities.
Answer: While it’s not recommended to use two different types of toothpaste of the same type at once, using a fluoride-less toothpaste along with a conventional toothpaste is a good idea to help better protect your teeth.
My Final Thoughts
Teeth whitening can be a tricky goal, but with the help of some of the fantastic products in the list you see here and a bit of dedication, you could be well on your way to achieving your perfect smile!
While the needs of each individual will differ, I love the convenience of whitening toothpaste, rather than having to constantly remember to apply whitening strips or other solutions. For that reason, the Crest 3D White Brilliance Toothpaste is my top favorite from this list!
However, whichever teeth-whitening product you choose to use, so long as you look for one that suits your needs and follow the instructions, you’ll be well on your way to pearly whites in no time.
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