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Best teeth whitening strips 2021: The most effective at-home teeth whitening treatments to buy

30 Apr 2021
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Brighten up your smile with the simplest method for teeth whitening at home

Tea, coffee, red wine, curry – these are some of our favourite things, and unfortunately also some of the best-known ways to stain teeth. Food and drink, cigarette smoke and certain medications can all cause teeth to discolour over time. Your friendly local dentist can offer professional whitening with hydrogen peroxide and optional UV light to bring teeth back to their shining former glory, but it will cost you a few hundred pounds. At-home whitening kits offer a safe option at a fraction of the cost, and strips are the easiest whitening product to use. But do they work?

We’ve taken a look at some of the best teeth whitening strips currently on the market to help you get a Baywatch smile at home. Read on for our guide to home whitening and, below, for our favourite strips.

How to choose the best teeth whitening strips for you

How do teeth whitening strips work?

Teeth whitening kits use a bleaching agent such as carbamide or hydrogen peroxide, which is the same as your dentist would use in a professional bleaching, but in a lower concentration. Some at-home kits require you to either brush the whitening gel onto teeth or place it in a tray that sits inside the mouth, but teeth-whitening strips include the whitening agent in a thin strip of plastic that sticks to the teeth. The bleach then gets to work breaking down stains at a deeper level than toothpaste alone can penetrate.

Are home teeth whitening treatments safe?

Teeth whitening strips and gels are safe for most people to use at home when used according to the directions. If you have sensitive teeth or gums, consult your dentist before using whitening gels or strips, as the bleach can irritate gums and cause soreness. Teeth may also become more sensitive during and just after treatment. Waiting at least 30 minutes after bleaching to brush teeth can help, as does switching to a softer toothbrush. Avoid wearing the strips for longer than directed as this can cause irritation and damage to teeth.

Teeth whitening treatments are not recommended for users under 18 years of age, or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Whitening kits will also not work on crowns, veneers or false teeth, so if you have any of these speak to your dentist. Don’t use the strips immediately after dental treatments such as crowns or fillings, or if you wear orthodontic braces.

Be cautious buying stronger products that are not licenced for use in the UK (Crest Whitestrips are a popular example sold over the counter in the US but not in the UK). Websites claiming to sell these and similar products in the UK are not acting legally, and may well be selling counterfeit versions.

How long do the strips take to work?

The strips need to be applied daily for up to 30 minutes. Follow the instructions on your chosen kits carefully, as some strips are designed to work with a shorter developing time.

As the bleach used is at a weaker concentration than your dentist can supply, most at-home whitening methods take around two weeks to yield results. Expect results to last for around 12 months.

READ NEXT: Our pick of the best toothpastes

Will I get the same results at home as I would at the dentist?

For safety reasons, in the UK, at-home teeth whitening kits may contain hydrogen peroxide at concentrations at up to 0.1%, whereas your dentist, using a custom-fitted mould, is able to safely use a concentration of up to 6% without harming teeth or gums. This means the professional treatment is usually able to achieve more noticeable lightening results. Dentist-only treatments such as laser whitening (in which the bleach solution is activated by a laser shone onto teeth) are also much faster, taking only 1-2 hours.

If used correctly, at-home kits will certainly lighten your teeth by a few shades. You might want to pop to the dentist for at least a thorough dental clean before starting your treatment, as plaque and tartar on the teeth can stop the bleaching agents penetrating stains, so getting everything scrubbed clean first is bound to boost results.

What else will help my teeth stay white?

Avoid major staining culprits after you’ve whitened teeth, including tea, coffee and cigarettes. If you consume any strongly coloured foods or drinks, rinse with water as soon as possible afterwards to reduce the chance of staining; using a straw will also reduce the time staining drinks are in contact with your teeth.

Brush and floss as normal after bleaching. A whitening toothpaste will help keep surface stains at bay once you’ve achieved your desired level of whiteness. Look for products containing gentle natural abrasives such as bicarbonate of soda or charcoal, which can’t penetrate the enamel of the tooth in the way that bleach in your whitening product does, but can be very useful after bleaching to help maintain whiteness.

READ NEXT: Our pick of the best teeth whitening kits

The best teeth-whitening strips to buy in 2021

1. Spotlight Oral Care Whitening Strips: Best teeth whitening strips overall

Price: £40 | Buy now from Look Fantastic

Designed by a pair of dentists, these easy-to-use strips with hydrogen peroxide are some of the most effective on the market, delivering brighter, whiter teeth within two weeks. The pack contains 14 pairs of whitening strips for use on upper and lower teeth, and a whitening toothpaste to help keep your smile bright after whitening. To use, brush and dry the teeth and place the strips on for one hour, then rinse away excess gel. The process is simple and clean, and the longer than average processing time of one hour is the result of a gentle bleaching process that is great for sensitive teeth. Best results are reported after 14 days, but you may find you notice whiter teeth much sooner with these gentle but efficient strips.

Key specs— treatment time: 1 hour; no. of strips in pack: 28 (14 days); pack also contains whitening toothpaste (100ml)

Buy now from Look Fantastic


2. RapidWhite Express Max Effect 5 Minute Dissolving Tooth Whitening Strips: Best rapid treatment teeth whitening strips

Price: £15 | Buy now from Boots

If you don’t want to wait around for hours (or even 30 minutes) for whiter teeth, these strips promise rapid results in just one week, when used for five minutes twice a day. The thin, flexible strips dissolve in the mouth, leaving less waste, and have a pleasant minty flavour. To achieve such rapid results there is an extra step: before applying the strips, you paint on a liquid accelerator containing sodium chlorite (a stain removing agent), then carefully apply the strips sticky-side down. Rinse any remaining residue away after the strip dissolves. Results are subtler than some of the other strips reviewed here, but if you like the idea of a quicker treatment then these could be for you.

Key specs— treatment time: 5-7 minutes twice per day; no. of strips in pack: 28 (7 days)

Buy now from Boots


3. Pro Teeth Whitening Co. premium dental whitening strips: Best teeth whitening strips on a budget

Price: £20 | Buy now from Boots

Pro Teeth Whitening Co’s whitening strips contain a peroxide-free formula with activated charcoal to cleanse and whiten teeth. Each sachet contains two strips in different shapes for top and bottom teeth to help them mould and stick correctly. As usual, you’ll need to clean and dry teeth before applying and leaving in place for 30 minutes. The strips can leave a slight black residue from the charcoal, but this brushes off easily. Suitable for vegetarians, these strips are also gentle on the tooth’s enamel and a good option for people with sensitive teeth or gums.

Key specs— treatment time: 30 mins; no. of strips in pack: 28 (14 days)

Buy now from Boots


4. Smile Science Harley Street Professional Teeth Whitening Strips: Best teeth whitening strips for sensitive teeth

Price: £20 | Buy now from Amazon

Hydrogen peroxide is a very effective bleaching agent, but can irritate gums and aggravate sensitivity in the teeth. These whitening strips, which lighten teeth by up to six shades, are peroxide-free, so are especially suitable for sensitive teeth. The strips mould to teeth well and are pleasant and comfortable to use. Results are a little less noticeable than with a peroxide formula, but still noticeable after two weeks. If you prefer to avoid peroxide, these strips offer a safe and effective alternative - and they’re suitable for vegans, too.

Key specs— treatment time: 20 minutes; no. of strips in pack: 28 (14 days)

5. Wisdom Intense White 3 Day Whitening Strips: Best teeth whitening strips for results in a hurry

Price: £15 | Buy now from Superdrug

Got a party or special event to attend and need whiter teeth in a hurry? You need this superfast strip treatment from oral care specialists Wisdom. The strips stick on in a simple application (brush and dry teeth and stick on the contoured strips), and lighten teeth visibly in just 30 minutes a day over three days. A good price for quick results.

Key specs— treatment time: 30 minutes; no. of strips in pack: 6 (3 days); pack also contains whitening pen (100ml)

Buy now from Superdrug


6. Boots Expert dissolvable teeth whitening strips: Best high street option

Price: £18 | Buy now from Boots

Boots’ peroxide-free gentle whitening strips are designed to be used twice daily for 15 minutes, and dissolve in the mouth during treatment for less waste. Apply as usual, to clean, dry teeth, and rinse after using to remove the slightly sticky residue. Results are subtler than with some of the peroxide-based treatments on the market, but these are a good option for gradual lightening or maintenance after professional treatment.

Key specs: treatment time 15 minutes twice per day; no. of strips in pack: 56 (14 days)

Buy now from Boots


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