The 6 Best Natural Teeth Whitening Products of 2021

Erase stains with enamel safe products.

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White, sparkly teeth make everyone feel extra confident, whether they are taking a photo, speaking on Zoom, or simply flashing a smile. Unfortunately, teeth naturally get extrinsic—or external—stains from the different things we eat and drink. 

“Your teeth are kinda like a white shirt,” says Jennifer E. Haddad,  M.S., D.D.S., who practices minimally invasive dentistry in Los Angeles. “Whatever you eat, whatever your habits are, will appear on your shirt.”

Today, there are many products and methods to whiten your teeth, from in-office procedures to home solutions. Yet some products may do more harm than good with ingredients that are overly abrasive on the teeth and/or not good for your health and the environment. Thankfully, there are plenty of products with more natural ingredients and some safer synthetics you can use to whiten your teeth at home.

From whitening strips to toothpastes, here are the best natural teeth whitening products.

The Rundown
Cheap, quick, and effective, hydrogen peroxide is the easiest way to whiten your teeth naturally.
Choose from a collection of whitening pens targeted for different types of stains, ranging from red wine to smoke and vape.
If you really want to kick your whitening up a notch, look no further than Dr. Brite’s Wireless Advanced Whitening System.
This toothpaste is less abrasive yet still provides the whitening power of hydrogen peroxide.
Low abrasive and affordable, these strips make whitening your teeth at home easy.
The whitening gel comes in a glass bottle with a compostable applicator to use when applying it to your teeth.

Best Overall: Solimo Hydrogen Peroxide Topical Solution USP

Solimo Hydrogen Peroxide Topical Solution USP

Key Ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide 3%, purified water | Duration: A few seconds every couple of weeks

Dr. Haddad says one of the best—and most affordable—ways to whiten your teeth is with hydrogen peroxide. Yep, she’s talking about that brown bottle you used to run away from every time you cut or scraped yourself as a kid. 

If you look at the ingredient list of whitening products, you’ll often find hydrogen peroxide as one of the main ingredients because it is safe and effective at bleaching the teeth when used at correct concentrations. But rather than spend a ton of time and money looking for some complicated product, Dr. Haddad says you can simply make a mouth wash of hydrogen peroxide diluted with water and swish it around your mouth for a few seconds. She recommends doing it every two weeks or so and not exceeding a concentration of 3% hydrogen peroxide.

“Peroxide is also antibacterial so it helps balance pH levels in the mouth,” says Dr. Haddad. “If you have bacteria in the mouth your pH levels are more acidic, so the peroxide can decrease the bad bacteria.

Best Pen: Dr. Brite Teeth Whitening Pens

Dr. Brite Teeth Whitening Pens

Key Ingredients: Food-grade hydrogen peroxide, organic coconut oil, organic spearmint oil | Duration: Swipe and let dry for two minutes. Avoid eating or drinking for 30 minutes. Can be used daily.

If you prefer using a whitening pen over fumbling with strips, check out Dr. Brite’s Teeth Pen line. Founded by two female dentists, the brand brings you a collection of teeth whitening pens that are targeted for different types of stains, ranging from red wine to smoke and vape. Each vegan formula combines hydrogen peroxide with organic plant oils like coconut and spearmint. Just swipe it on for five minutes and you’ll gradually start to reveal more pearly whites.

Best Splurge: Dr. Brite Advanced Whitening System

Dr. Brite Advanced Whitening System

Key Ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide, chamomile flower extract, peppermint oil | Duration: 10-15 minutes

If you really want to kick your whitening up a notch, look no further than Dr. Brite’s Wireless Advanced Whitening System. It combines two pens (day and night) with a wireless dual LED light. The blue light accelerates the whitening gel while the red light soothes the gums. The set also comes with a shade guide, so you can track your progress. Faster than most strips, the gel only needs to sit on your teeth for 10-15 minutes. The formulas are paraben, phthalate, and sulfate free. The wireless light and slim pens will effortlessly fit in your bathroom and suitcase, so you can maintain that glow even on vacation.

Best Toothpaste: Arm & Hammer Advance White Extreme Whitening Toothpaste

Arm & Hammer Advance White Extreme Whitening Baking Soda and Peroxide Toothpaste

Key Ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide, sodium fluoride | Duration: Twice a day

Go to a grocery store or pharmacy, and you’ll find a ton of whitening toothpastes all promising unbelievable results. Dr. Haddad says most of these claims are just marketing and that whitening toothpastes are often too abrasive on the teeth. To keep your teeth healthy for the long run, she recommends looking up a formula’s Relative Dentin Abrasion Value and selecting one with a low score. 

We like Arm & Hammer’s Advance White Extreme Whitening Toothpaste. It scores relatively low on the scale yet still provides the whitening power of hydrogen peroxide. However, this toothpaste does contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, which some people prefer to avoid.

Best Strips: Crest 3D Whitestrips Sensitive Teeth Whitening Kit

Crest 3D Whitestrips Sensitive Teeth Whitening Kit

Key Ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide, sodium fluoride | Duration: Once a day for 30 minutes.

With the main bleaching ingredient being hydrogen peroxide, Dr. Haddad says at home whitening strips like these from Crest are safe to use. The Environmental Working Group has rated these seven-ingredient strips with a 2 rating, meaning they pose a low risk of health concerns. At a relatively affordable price, you don’t have to shell out a fortune. They need to be left on for 30 minutes, so you can whiten while watching TV at night or getting ready in the morning.

Best Plastic-Free: Bite Whitening Gel Teeth Whitening Kit

Bite Whitening Gel

Key Ingredients: Aloe vera, peppermint oil, sodium hydroxide | Duration: Twice a day for two minutes.

One con of whitening strips? All the plastic that goes into the individually wrapped strips. If you prefer to nix all the wasteful packaging, consider Bite’s plastic-free teeth whitening kit. The whitening gel comes in a glass bottle with a compostable applicator to use when applying it to your teeth. 

The simple formula is free of propylene glycol, alcohol, parabens, phthalates, synthetic dyes or flavors, and is certified Peta Cruelty Free. We like that it contains aloe vera, which is known to reduce inflammation and swelling of the gums. Best of all, the solution only needs to sit on your teeth for two minutes. Who doesn’t have time for that?

Final Verdict

For the easiest, cheapest, and perhaps most effective way to whiten your teeth, stock up on some hydrogen peroxide (view at Amazon) and use it as a mouthwash with some water every couple of weeks. If you rather use a whitening system more akin to the in-office experience, consider Dr. Brite Advanced Whitening System (view at Dr. Bite) which even includes a shade guide to let you monitor your progress.

What to Look for in Natural Teeth Whitening Products

Ingredients

“Natural” has no legal definition when it comes to personal care, so it’s important to look at the product's ingredients. Look for products with as few synthetic ingredients as possible and avoid sodium laurel sulfate (SLS), sulfates, parabens, and sodium saccharin, an artificial sweetener. SLS has been found to be irritating to the skin and can potentially decrease the efficacy of fluoride in toothpaste. You can also check out the Environmental Working Group’s database to review what safety score they give to the product based on its ingredients.

When it comes to whitening the teeth, Dr. Haddad recommends hydrogen peroxide as the safest and most effective ingredient to remove stains. Look for strips, toothpaste, and washes with this ingredient or simply use it on its own.

Frequency

Depending on the product, different whitening methods require different levels of frequency to see results. Consider your lifestyle as well as timeframe (like whitening your teeth for a special event or maintaining a whiter smile) when choosing a product. Swishing your mouth with hydrogen peroxide or brushing your teeth with a whitening toothpaste are the most low maintenance methods you can add to your routine. If you want to see more rapid results, consider investing in one of the home whitening systems.

Abrasiveness

When looking at different whitening products, you’ll find different levels of whitening agents like hydrogen peroxide. Products with higher concentrations promise quicker results, but Dr. Haddad says they may be more irritating and abrasive. She also recommends staying away from ingredients known to be abrasive like activated charcoal and lemon juice combined with baking soda.

While you might want to get the whitest teeth as soon as possible, she stresses the importance of preserving your teeth’s enamel since there currently is no way to build it back.

“The long-term effect [of abrasive ingredients] is thinning and wearing down the natural tooth structure,” says Dr. Haddad. “You want to keep as healthy and as whole as possible. If your tooth structure gets thin, you get more sensitive because the outer shell is not as thick.”

FAQs

Is activated charcoal an effective and safe way to whiten teeth?

From toothpaste to whitening stripes, activated charcoal is everywhere these days in oral care products. The ‘buzz” around the ingredient is the claim that it can absorb stains from the teeth. However, Dr. Haddad recommends staying away from any product with activated charcoal because it can be too abrasive. In fact, a study found that the ingredient was ineffective at changing the color of the teeth while potentially altering the enamel surface.

Do natural remedies like lemon and baking soda work to whiten the teeth?

Google “ways to naturally whiten teeth” and you’ll find a ton of different strategies from coconut oil pulling to smothering lemon and baking soda on your teeth. But take it with a grain of salt—not every theory is safe and/or effective.

Dr. Haddad discourages anyone from applying lemon juice and baking soda. Though it will whiten the teeth, the acidic and basic properties of the two ingredients make it very harmful to the tooth structure. 

Coconut oil pulling is another popular method. The oil is treated like a mouthwash and swished around the mouth for a few seconds. Dr. Haddad says this strategy isn’t harmful to the teeth yet it’s not proven to actually work in terms of whitening.

What else can I do to keep my teeth white?

While it’s only natural for teeth to get stained overtime, there are certain habits that can decrease yellowing. Dr. Haddad recommends avoiding the food and drinks that are known to stain teeth, like wine, tea, and coffee, as well as smoking. If you can’t go without your morning cup of joe or tea, you can drink the beverage with a straw or swish some water in your mouth afterwards to rinse the mouth.

On the flip side, eating certain fruits and vegetables like strawberries, pineapple and celery can help whiten the teeth, says Dr. Haddad. 

Dr. Haddad also recommends using an electric toothbrush, which studies have found to be more efficient at removing plaque and improving gingival health.

Why Trust Treehugger?

Emily Cieslak loves writing about sustainable beauty and wellness products for Treehugger and other publications. She swears by Crest White Strips for revitalizing her smile.

For this article, Emily researched different ingredients as well as interviewed Jennifer E. Haddad,  M.S., D.D.S. Dr. Haddad practices minimally invasive dentistry in Los Angeles and spoke about what methods are best when whitening the teeth with natural ingredients.

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