Your smile is a huge part of every first impression, so of course, you want dazzling white teeth. But if you have sensitive teeth, you might feel locked out of teeth whitening treatments.
Good news: sensitivity doesn’t need to stand between you and the smile of your dreams. With whitening products for sensitive teeth, you can brighten your smile with little to no pain. We dug through all your options, reading reviews, speaking to the companies, and getting feedback from actual users. In the end, six whitening products for sensitive teeth rose to the top.
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What Qualifies as a Sensitive Whitening Product?
Sensitive teeth whitening products are pretty self-explanatory — they’re designed for whitening teeth that are prone to sensitivity. But how do they accomplish this when other whitening products fail?
Two factors: the whitening agent and the strengthening ingredients. Most whitening products use hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide as their whitening agent. These chemicals open up the pores of the enamel, allowing them to reach internal stains. Then, they break up these stains into smaller molecules and lift them out of the teeth. This action is essential to the whitening process, but it also leads to sensitivity.
With the pores open, hot, cold, and other sensitivity triggers can get inside the enamel just like the peroxide. This causes nerve pain in those with sensitive teeth. Even if you don’t usually have sensitivity, it can develop during teeth-whitening treatment (though it should go away once treatment is over and the pores close up again).
Sensitive teeth whitening products typically use peroxide, just like more traditional formulas. However, they opt for a lower concentration. The ones that skip peroxide entirely, though, are best for people with extreme tooth sensitivity.
The 6 Best Whitening Products for Sensitive Teeth
#1 Best Overall Kit: BURST Teeth Whitening Strips With Coconut Oil
BURST is a company that prides itself on meeting often overlooked needs in oral healthcare. Their business model centers on BURST Ambassadors — U.S.-based dental professionals who send them reports on their patients’ unmet needs. If they see an issue coming up over and over again, BURST creates a product that fills the gap.
BURST Whitening Strips With Coconut Oil were formulated to address several needs, primarily tooth sensitivity from whitening. Combining traditional whitening agents with coconut oil, they can brighten smiles with minimal discomfort. They also require just 15 minutes of wear each whitening session, so treatment is easy to fit into a busy schedule.
- Your time investment is minimal — just 15 minutes per day. Some other whitening strips require half an hour or more per session.
- If you subscribe through their website, you can decrease the per session price of your treatment even further.
- Their balance between traditional ingredients and natural ones offers peace of mind.
- The adhesive isn’t the best, so the strips sometimes slip.
- Even if it causes minimal tooth sensitivity, the gel can burn the gums.
#2 Most Well-Known: Crest 3D Whitestrips for Sensitive Teeth
Crest is one of the most famous companies in the dental care industry, and it was the pioneer that took teeth whitening mainstream. When their Whitestrips hit the market in 2001, they met plenty of criteria for at-home teeth whitening — safe, easy, and affordable — but they weren’t formulated for sensitive teeth.
Crest 3D Whitestrips Sensitive Teeth Whitening Kit takes the Whitestrips that people know and love but adjusts the formula to make it better for those with sensitive teeth. They have a lower concentration of peroxide, gentler inactive ingredients, and a shorter wear time: 30 minutes, compared to the usual 60.
Crest 3D Whitestrips Sensitive Teeth Whitening Kit Advantages
- Specifically formulated to reduce tooth sensitivity.
- Benefits from decades of research by Crest.
- Easy to find at most pharmacies and big box stores.
Crest 3D Whitestrips Sensitive Teeth Whitening Kit Disadvantages
- Customers complain about the taste.
- They have a powerful adhesive, which can make them hard to take off.
#3 Gentlest Formula: Lumineux Oral Essentials Teeth Whitening Strips
Most sensitive teeth whitening products still rely on peroxide to open the pores of the teeth and remove stains; they just use a lower concentration. However, the risk of tooth sensitivity remains, even if the level is reduced. Lumineux takes a different path — they strictly use all-natural ingredients to whiten the teeth.
The result is a whitening strip that doesn’t cause any pain whatsoever to the teeth and gums. In fact, the formula is so gentle that it is safe to use their whitening strips every day. And while you might expect it to be ineffective, the results are actually pretty close to what you’d get with a peroxide-based gel.
Lumineux Oral Essentials Teeth Whitening Strips Advantages
- Instead of peroxide, Lumineux uses essential oils to break up stains in the teeth.
- You can use them every day for as many consecutive days as you’d like. Most other strips can damage your enamel if you leave them on too long or use them too frequently.
- The ingredients are not known to cause any level of tooth sensitivity.
Lumineux Oral Essentials Teeth Whitening Strips Disadvantages
- Some customers complain that the bottom strip is too small for their teeth.
- Whitening effects aren’t as fast and powerful as with traditional formulas.
#4 Most Treatments Per Kit: SNOW
SNOW is one of the most popular companies in the teeth whitening industry. Over the past couple of years, their ads have been all over the internet. While the company boasts a lot of excellent features — LED enhanced whitening, the lowest cost per whitening session in the business, and a highly portable design — one feature that is often overlooked is the fact that their formula is designed to cause minimal sensitivity.
SNOW uses both hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide — a unique approach to a whitening formula. Apparently, this helps them play with the concentration levels in a way that results in less sensitivity than using just one or the other. However, the company does not disclose their percentages, so we can’t say how it compares to other products.
- The LED light is powered by your phone, so you don’t need to charge it or sit next to a wall outlet while you whiten.
- There are two whitening pens in the kit, so you can choose the lower strength if you are worried about sensitivity.
- The system is designed for on-the-go use.
- Not everyone wants to be tied to their phone while whitening their teeth.
- Some customers dislike the design of the power cord.
#5 Designed for Vegans: Cali White
We all know how special it feels when we come across a product that feels like it’s designed just for us. If you are vegan, that product is Cali White. Their formula is specifically designed for vegans, avoiding all animal-derived ingredients and keeping things cruelty-free.
Cali White is an LED whitening system, meaning you use a whitening gel with an LED mouthpiece to enhance its effects. The formula uses carbamide peroxide rather than hydrogen, which is gentler on the teeth. It also contains ingredients to help strengthen the enamel, further reducing sensitivity.
Cali White Advantages
- The product is backed by a 100-day refund policy.
- You can use it for as few as 10 minutes per day, while other whitening kits can take 30-60 minutes per session.
- The built-in timer stops you from accidentally whitening your teeth for too long.
Cali White Disadvantages
- The customizable tray doesn’t attach to the LED light.
- The results are less consistent than with other products.
#6 Professional Quality: GLO Brilliant
GLO Brilliant gets its name from the lights used in its mouthpiece: Guided Light Optics. It is actually a scaled-down version of the system used in dental offices around the country, combining light and heat with a gentle whitening formula for incredible results.
Unlike most other formulas for sensitive teeth, GLO Brilliant doesn’t reduce its peroxide concentration. Instead, it relies on ingredients that strengthen the enamel to help reduce sensitivity. So it’s more likely than others on this list to cause some degree of sensitivity, but the pain should be less than with more traditional formulas.
GLO Brilliant Advantages
- The combination of light and heat delivers faster results than many other whitening treatments.
- It is one of a handful of at-home whitening products with FDA approval.
- The solution is vegan, gluten-free, and cruelty-free.
GLO Brilliant Disadvantages
- It requires a total of four applications per day, so it is less convenient than options that only require one.
- The battery runs out fast, so you need to charge it frequently.
You want a nice balance between natural and traditional ingredients without having to break the bank.
You want the security of a major brand and a whitening formula that won’t leave you with painful teeth.
What About Professional Whitening Treatments?
People have been whitening their teeth for thousands of years. But whitening as we think of it is actually pretty new. Professional bleaching kits weren’t developed until the late 1980s, and at-home whitening didn’t go mainstream until Crest Whitestrips launched in 2001.
Professional whitening is still considered the gold standard for brightening smiles. However, it isn’t the most ideal option for everyone. To determine if at-home whitening is better for you, you need to know how it compares to dentist-directed whitening.
- Power: Professional whitening gels can use higher concentrations of peroxide, which means they can make teeth brighter than at-home kits in less time.
- Price: In-office whitening starts at $600 per session. At-home whitening can cost as little as $1 per session.
- Customization: A dentist can customize the strength, frequency, and results of your in-office treatment to suit your needs and goals. At-home kits are mass-produced and the same for each customer.
- Convenience: Professional whitening requires at least an hour in the dentist’s chair — though this is usually closer to two hours per session. However, one session may be all you need for a few years. At-home kits take weeks to achieve final results but fit into your daily schedule.
Neither is inherently better. If price and scheduling matter most, at-home kits are likely the way to go. If you need fast results and a Hollywood-white smile, choose professional whitening.
How to Evaluate Sensitive Teeth Whitening Products
How can you know if a sensitive teeth whitening product is right for you? There are many factors to consider, but how you weigh each one depends on your needs and goals. As we evaluated the kits on this list, we looked at five factors we felt had a universal impact: effectiveness, affordability, quality of ingredients, convenience, and comfort.
No matter which product you buy, it needs to be effective. While you cannot test drive every product — and full disclosure, we didn’t either — you can do what we did: dig deep into customer testimonials and reviews and see if the product backs up its promises.
Everyone has a budget; some are just bigger than others. That’s why affordability always matters. No matter what you have to spend on your teeth whitening, there will be an option that works for you.
Quality of Ingredients
All whitening products should disclose their ingredients. If they don’t, don’t buy. Make sure that you are comfortable with a product’s ingredients, and for sensitive teeth kits, check to make sure that the whitening formula is gentle or at least balances it with an enamel-strengthening ingredient like fluoride.
Most whitening products are fairly easy to use. Take BURST strips, for example — you just clean your teeth, dry them, and apply the strips. Others have more of a learning curve; like GLO Brilliant, which requires multiple gel applications per session. Be sure the level of ease matches your expectations.
Whitening strips, trays, and pens can all feel awkward to use. However, they should never cause you to dread whitening your teeth. Look at things like taste, texture, tray size, and more when evaluating a product’s comfort level.
When Should You Avoid Sensitive Teeth Whitening Products?
There is nothing unique to sensitive teeth whitening products that would stop you from using them over other whitening kits. However, some people simply aren’t well-suited for whitening treatment in general. You shouldn’t whiten your teeth without dentist supervision if you have:
- Allergies to common teeth-whitening ingredients.
- Active tooth decay and/or gum disease.
- Chips or cracks in your teeth.
- A fixed appliance on the fronts of your teeth.
- Cosmetic or restorative dentistry.
- Discoloration that whitening products cannot correct.
If you know or suspect that any of the above apply to you, see a dentist before using any whitening products.
Combining Teeth Whitening With Other Treatments
For some, whitening is the last step to becoming fully confident in their smile. Others might want a little more tweaking. If you fall into the latter category, you might be wondering if you can use other dental treatments with whitening products.
You sure can. Just not in every case. Not all cosmetic corrections pair well with teeth whitening, but one that does is clear aligner therapy. Some clear aligner companies even include whitening in their treatment bundles. If you’re dreaming of a whiter and straighter smile, you might consider using an online clear aligner service like Byte or AlignerCo.
Sensitive teeth whitening products open the door to a brighter smile, even if you’ve experienced pain from kits in the past. We are confident that the six options in this guide are all excellent options. Choose any one of them and you’ll be smiling brightly before you know it!
Frequently Asked Questions
Are sensitive teeth-whitening products safe?
Yes! They might be the safest whitening products to use since they are designed to be extra gentle on your enamel. Purchase authentic products from reputable sellers, follow the directions on the packaging, and enjoy a whiter smile.
Can I use whitening toothpaste and a whitening kit at the same time?
It likely won’t lead to any problems, but you should ask your dentist before you try. Just keep in mind that if you have sensitive teeth, a toothpaste for sensitivity would be better than a whitening one.
How do the active ingredients in whitening products work?
It depends on the whitening agent. Peroxide-based whitening products — the most common type — open the pores of the enamel and get inside, breaking up the stains within and lifting them out.
Should I see my dentist for a cleaning before I whiten my teeth?
It isn’t required but it’s a good idea. If you have tartar, it will cause uneven whitening, so removing it will ensure better results.
How long will my teeth stay white?
There is no set timeline for how long your teeth will maintain their brightness. Some people find their teeth remain white for two years or more. Others need to complete a new treatment after six months. Different products have different timelines, and habits and genetics play influential roles as well.
Is there anything I can do to keep my teeth whiter for longer?
Yes! Try the following:
- Use a straw when drinking pigmented beverages.
- Eat fewer staining foods.
- Rinse your mouth with water after meals.
- Brush twice per day, and floss once per day.
- Use a whitening toothpaste.
- Don’t smoke.
If I do experience sensitivity, will it go away?
Yes. While sensitive teeth whitening products are less likely to cause sensitivity, it’s still possible. If you experience sensitivity, don’t worry. It should go away shortly after you finish whitening your teeth.
Can I whiten and straighten my teeth at the same time?
It depends on the appliance you’re using. Braces affixed to the fronts of your teeth are not compatible with whitening products, since the whitening agent can’t get underneath them. With lingual braces, which go behind your teeth, it’s a matter of personal preference. If you have removable aligners, you can whiten your teeth if cleared by your dentist.
I have white spots on my teeth. Did my whitening product damage my enamel?
No. These white spots just mean your enamel is dehydrated, which happens when the pores open and peroxide lifts out the stains. They will disappear after you finish treatment.
If my mouth foams when whitening my teeth, does this mean I did something wrong?
Not if your product has peroxide, which naturally foams when it comes into contact with saliva.