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You’ve nailed down your makeup look, scheduled facials, and waxes, and have all your hair appointments locked in. But there’s another part of your look that deserves to be a part of your bridal beauty plan—your smile. Since we can pretty much guarantee that you’ll be grinning from ear-to-ear all day (and all night) long, now’s the time to prep and make sure you’ll be flashing only the pearliest of whites.
When it comes to teeth whitening, you have a few options. There is, of course, the professional route; you can see a dentist for an in-office whitening treatment. This will admittedly give you the best, most dramatic results, though can be costly and time-consuming, not to mention potentially uncomfortable for those with sensitive teeth. That’s why we appreciate that there’s a whole host of at-home options out there. These are ideal if you need a brightening boost, want to save some time and cash, or even to use as a touch-up in between professional treatments. From toothpaste to gels to strips to trays, here are the teeth whitening products worth trying before your big day.
Here, the best teeth whitening products.
Best Overall: Crest 3D Whitestrips Professional Effects
The OG version of these cult-classic strips first launched back in 2001, and they’ve remained one of the most popular and most effective at-home whitening products ever since. Using the same whitening ingredient as is used in dentist’s offices—hydrogen peroxide—these strips earn top marks for not only how well they work, but also how easy they are to use.
Pop the adhesive strips onto top and bottom teeth, then chill while they do their thing. No-fuss, no mess, no extra equipment required. (You can also talk and drink water while wearing them, thanks to their no-slip grip.) This particular iteration has 20 treatments, each meant to be worn for 30 minutes per day. Also nice: There are a host of other versions now available, including options that come with an LED activating light, an express version that works even faster, and a new charcoal mint variant with a refreshing flavor.
Best for On-The-Go: Smile Direct Club Bright On Teeth Whitening Kit
Affordable, fast-acting, and long-lasting, this is a great all-around pick. Brush on the whitening gel from the pen-like applicator, and pop in the LED light for just five minutes, twice daily. (Don’t freak out when you see the gel start to foam on contact, it’s supposed to do that.) The light is also controlled by your smartphone, making it easy to do this anytime, anywhere. Repeat for a week to end up with a whiter smile that will last up to six months. Try using it before your bridal shower or bachelorette and you’ll rock brighter teeth up until the wedding.
Best Kit: Go Smile Sonic Blue Smart Brush Whitening Kit
This one-stop-shop comes with both a whitening toothpaste and whitening gel, as well as a toothbrush, too. And this isn’t any old toothbrush. It’s the only sonic one out there—delivering up to 33,000 strokes per minute—that also uses blue light technology. That blue light both activates the toothpaste and gel and is clinically proven to kill bacteria and germs on contact. Translation: You get not only whiter teeth (in less than 30 days), but healthier teeth, too.
We also like that the brush has an automatic interval timer to tell you when it’s time to move to a different part of your mouth and shuts off after two minutes, the amount of brushing time recommended by the American Dental Association. You get two replacement brush heads as well, with antibacterial bristles that helpfully change color when it’s time to toss ‘em.
Best Pen: AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Pen
No matter whether you’re constantly on-the-go or are looking for a product to use as a quick touch-up, this pen fits the bill. The twist-up has a brush applicator that lets you (easily and quickly) paint on the whitening gel onto each tooth, for full-on whitening in less than a minute. Also nice: The active ingredient, carbamide peroxide, tends to be less irritating than hydrogen peroxide, making this an especially great option for those with sensitive teeth.
Use it once or twice per day to whiten your teeth up to eight shades. Each pen offers enough for 15+ treatments, and is also clear, so you can easily see how much product is left. It’s so easy and portable that you could even keep it in your wedding day clutch for a quick brightening boost pre-photos.
Best Toothpaste: Colgate Optic White Express White Whitening Toothpaste
Let’s be real—there’s no easier way to whiten than by using a whitening toothpaste. After all, you’re guaranteed to be using it at least twice a day, every day. So if you’re looking to score a gleaming grin, minimal effort required, opt for this toothpaste. As a general rule of thumb, most whitening toothpaste uses abrasive ingredients that work by mechanically scrubbing off the stains on the surface of your teeth. This works, but can potentially be damaging to your enamel, not to mention is less effective than the bleaching you’d get with a hydrogen peroxide-based product.
Enter this formula, which does in fact use hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth in as little as just three days (though you’ll want to use it for a month for best results, AKA teeth that are up to four shades whiter). We suggest packing it with you on your honeymoon to maintain all those pre-wedding whitening results.
Best Gel: Linhart Tooth Whitener Gel
Ever wish you could turn your favorite toothpaste into a whitening toothpaste? With this supplement, you can. All you have to do is add a pea-size dot of the gel on top of any other toothpaste every time you brush. The dentist-created brand is all about efficacy, using the same ingredient (hydrogen peroxide) as is used in their in-office treatments. Plus, it’s gentle enough to use daily and regularly, though it delivers noticeable results quickly.
Make it a standard part of your routine, or just incorporate it whenever you notice that your smile is starting to look a little dingy. FYI, the gel may liquefy if exposed to cold temps, but it won’t lose its efficacy and will return to a gel-like state as it warms up.
Best Trays: Opalescence Go Prefilled Whitening Trays 15%
Many whitening trays often don’t fit your teeth properly, and/or require the time-consuming (and messy) step of having to be filled. Not this ready-to-use option. The trays are prefilled with a whitening gel, and are made of a special material that perfectly conforms to anyone’s smile and fit from molar to molar so that every tooth is treated.
Options are also the name of the game; while this version, with a 15 percent concentration of hydrogen peroxide, is meant to be used for 15 to 20 minutes for five to 10 days, there’s also a lower, 10 percent concentration available. Go with this one if you have more sensitive teeth or have more time on your hands; these trays need to be worn for 30 to 60 minutes for five to 10 days. Also nice: You can choose between two yummy flavors, melon, and mint.
Best For Sensitive Teeth: POPWhite Whitening Primer Toothpaste and Whitening Toner Oral Rinse
If your teeth are ultra-sensitive, you’ll want to stick with peroxide-free formulas. Enter this unique pick, which relies on, wait for it, color theory. Stay with us here. Remember that color wheel hanging on the wall of your elementary school art class? On that wheel, purple and yellow are opposite one another, meaning they’ll cancel each other out. It’s the same reason why purple shampoos are often used to brighten blonde hair, or purple-based primers and concealers can help counteract the yellowing in a dull or sallow complexion.
Here, the combo of the violet-hued toothpaste and rinse work together to camo the appearance of yellowish stains, leaving teeth looking up to five shades whiter in just two weeks. Both are peroxide- and fluoride-free but do contain antibacterial coconut oil and peppermint oil to leave breath super fresh.
Best Vegan: Cali White Deluxe Teeth Whitening Kit
True to its name, the whitening gel in this system is vegan, as well as cruelty-free, gluten-free, and has a super short, clean ingredient list. Use the pre-filled syringes to fill the trays (which are BPA-free and made of medical-grade silicone, we should add), then pop them in along with the cordless light. Wear them for 10 to 30 minutes for 10 days for up to 8 shades of whitening. Also nice: This gel uses carbamide peroxide, minimizing the likelihood of any sensitivity or discomfort.
Best High Tech: Glo Brilliant Teeth Whitening Device
Professional, in-office tooth whitening treatments utilize both heat and LED light in order to boost the bleaching prowess of the hydrogen peroxide. This complete kit offers the same. You get 10 vials of an easy-to-apply whitening gel (40 applications worth), as well as a light-up mouthpiece and a storage case, all of which look as sleek as any Apple product.
Paint on the gel, then pop in the mouthpiece for eight minutes; it comes with a convenient hands-free lanyard so you can multitask while you whiten. For best results, it’s suggested to do four, eight-minute applications daily for five days, or until you reach your desired shade of wait. So yes, you’ll have to carve out those 32 minutes per day, but the impressive whitening results are worth it.
If you're looking for a tried and true teeth whitening product, we recommend the Crest 3D Whitestrips Professional Effects (view at Amazon). They're easy to use and they come in several varieties including one with an LED activating light, an express version, and a charcoal mint variant. Have sensitive teeth? Try the POPWhite Whitening Primer Toothpaste and Whitening Toner Oral Rinse (view at Amazon); it's peroxide-free.
What to Look for in Teeth Whitening Products
There are different types of teeth whitening products including whitening kits, strips, pens, toothpaste, light treatments, and professional teeth whitening. Opting for whitening toothpaste is generally the easiest option, as it easily fits into your brush routine. Pens are good for on-the-go use and for touch-ups during your big day. Kits, strips, and light treatments are all popular options, but you'll have to make sure they fit comfortably. They can also be time-consuming. For the best results, professional treatments are the way to go, but these can be expensive. Which one you choose will largely depend on how much time you have, your budget, and your personal preference.
Whitening products can cause irritation if you have sensitive teeth or gums. If you're worried about this try to avoid teeth whitening products that use hydrogen peroxide. Carbamide peroxide is a less irritating active ingredient. If you have extra-sensitive teeth, it's best to look for a peroxide-free treatment.
Pay attention to how long the whitening product takes to show results. Some work in three to five days, but others will take a bit longer to see results. Determine how much time you have before your wedding and then choose a product that will work best with your schedule.
From strips to trays to light treatments, some teeth whitening products will come with extra features making them easier to use. For strips, aside from making sure they adhere well, find a product that allows you to talk and drink water, too. There's nothing worse than having to sit still and do nothing, especially when you're in the middle of planning your big day. For trays, try to find ones that are made to adhere better to the shape of your mouth. Finally, for light treatments check if they're compatible with your smartphone so you can use them even when you're on the go.