The 7 Best Teeth Whitening Products for Sensitive Teeth of 2023

Crest Whitestrips for Sensitive Teeth offer high-level brightening without any pain

In This Article

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Best Teeth Whitening Products for Sensitive Teeth

Courtesy of Merchants / Photo Illustration by Brian Kopinski for Health

Teeth whitening can be tough on your mouth, but it can be even worse if you already have sensitive teeth. Teeth whitening products can take many forms, but if you have sensitive teeth, you’ll need to be careful about what treatment you choose and what kind of sensitivity you have.

Reviewed & Approved

Our top pick for whitening strips, Crest Whitestrips for Sensitive Teeth, whitens teeth without any pain or sensitivity. If you want to add a whitening product to your regular routine instead, try Sensodyne ProNamel Gentle Whitening Toothpaste.

“Consider addressing the root cause of your tooth sensitivity before proceeding with any cosmetic work, such as whitening,” says Shahrooz Yazdani, DDS, CEO and director of Costello Family Dentistry in Carleton Place, Ontario. “Doing this can help alleviate any concerns about worsening sensitivity in the long run.” 

Whether your tooth sensitivity is the result of a sweet tooth or even previous whitening attempts, Dr. Yazdani recommends adding healthy toothpastes with ingredients like potassium nitrate and fluoride to your dental routine to help address your tooth pain. You can follow up your healthy dental routine with a whitener for sensitive teeth or even use a whitener that pulls double duty, like a whitening toothpaste or mouthwash.

Best Strips

Crest 3D Whitestrips Sensitive Teeth Whitening Kit

4.8
Crest 3D Whitestrips Sensitive Teeth Whitening Kit

Amazon

Why We Like It: From one of the top trusted whitening brands, these strips are designed specifically for sensitive teeth

It’s Worth Noting: They may not brighten your teeth as much as other Crest Whitestrips because of their lower peroxide percentage

Crest is the leading name in teeth whitening—and for good reason. When we tested the best teeth whitening kits, we named the Crest Whitestrips for Sensitive Teeth our top pick for people with tooth sensitivity. Our tester, who had sensitive teeth, was impressed by how pain-free the experience was. “This product was super comfortable and not painful at all. I'm very surprised since my teeth and gums are very sensitive, and this process was painless,” our tester said, noting that the results were immediate. “I could tell a noticeable difference right away as soon as I took the strip off my teeth.” 

The Crest Whitestrips for Sensitive Teeth work like the other strips in Crest’s lineup: just wear them once a day for 30 minutes, and you should see full results in about two weeks—all without tooth pain. “The product definitely lived up to its claim of being for sensitive teeth because I did not feel not one inch of pain or burning/tingling sensation,” our tester said. ”Plus, these strips use Crest’s AdvancedSeal tech for a non-slip grip on teeth during whitening. 

Price at time of publication: $50

Product Details:

  • Product Type: Strips
  • Active Ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide
  • Frequency of Use: Once daily
  • Duration of Use: 30 minutes
  • Time to Results: Two weeks

Best Toothpaste

Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening Toothpaste

Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening Toothpaste

Target

Why We Like It: It’s easy to add to your regular oral hygiene routine

It’s Worth Noting: Whitening toothpaste can be a little more abrasive than regular toothpaste

Whitening toothpaste is one of the most common ways to add whitening to your daily dental health routine. But most whitening toothpaste can further irritate sensitive teeth and problem gums thanks to their combination of peroxide and abrasive application method. 

The American Dental Association developed the Relative Dentine Abrasivity Scale (RDA) in 1970 to judge how abrasive toothpaste could be on teeth. An abrasiveness rating of about 100 is considered standard, while an RDA of 250 is considered damaging to teeth. Most whitening toothpastes rate close to 200, but Sensodyne’s ProNamel Gentle Whitening has a rating of just 100 on the scale. So while many kinds of toothpaste can be abrasive and irritating to sensitive teeth, Sensodyne’s whitening toothpaste can whiten teeth without any added abrasion or pain.

You can use Sensodyne Extra Whitening Toothpaste just like any other toothpaste—in fact, using it like a regular toothpaste (that means twice daily) should help combat your regular tooth sensitivity thanks to Sensodyne’s potassium nitrate-based formula. In a randomized controlled study, potassium nitrate was shown to reduce tooth sensitivity compared with regular fluoride toothpaste, meaning you can whiten your teeth while brushing and reducing sensitivity.

Price at time of publication: $12 for two

Product Details:

  • Product Type: Toothpaste
  • Active Ingredients: Potassium nitrate, sodium fluoride
  • Frequency of Use: Two to three times daily
  • Duration of Use: Two minutes
  • Time to Results: Not specified

Best Mouthwash

TheraBreath Whitening Mouthwash

TheraBreath Whitening Mouthwash

Courtesy of Target

Why We Like It: It’s easy to incorporate this gentle mouthwash into your daily routine

It’s Worth Noting: Your results may not be as noticeable as with a traditional whitening product

If you think you can’t see real whitening results with mouthwash, think again. TheraBreath’s Whitening Fresh Breath Oral Rinse offers all the power of an effective mouthwash with high-strength whitening, all without peroxide. Instead, TheraBreath’s whitening mouthwash uses a three-step process to lift stains and whiten teeth. Papain, an enzyme derived from papaya fruit, works with your saliva to remove stains (meaning that the watery mouth you get from mouthwash isn’t for nothing). Its oxidizing process—with the help of glucose oxidase—is where you’ll see its whitening impact.

Plus, it’s alcohol-free, so you won’t feel any burning or stinging, but you’ll still have a fresher, brighter smile. “I recommend not using an alcohol-based mouthwash after fluoride-based toothpaste as it can rinse away the protective fluoride from your teeth,” says Dr. Yazdani.

You can use the TheraBreath whitening mouthwash like any other mouthwash; just rinse with one capful for two minutes, morning and night, and wait 30 minutes before eating or drinking. This mouthwash offers a 24-hour stain barrier if used twice daily, protecting your teeth from any additional staining while you use it. You should see results in just a couple of uses.

Price at time of publication: $13

Product Details:

  • Product Type: Mouthwash
  • Active Ingredients: Papain, glucose oxidase
  • Frequency of Use: One to two times daily
  • Duration of Use: Two minutes
  • Time to Results: A few days

Best Gel

SmileDirectClub Teeth Whitening Kit with LED Light

SmileDirectClub Teeth Whitening Kit with LED Light

Amazon

Why We Like It: This lab-tested pick offers a full whitening kit with zero sensitivity and stinging

It’s Worth Noting: You have to use it twice a day for full results

If you have sensitive teeth, you might not think regular gel teeth whitening is possible—at least not without pain and discomfort. When we tested the best teeth whitening kits, our tester who used the SmileDirectClub Teeth Whitening Kit thought the same—until she tried this product. “I have sensitive teeth and a seltzer habit, so I anticipated a little bit of discomfort and was really pleasantly surprised,” our tester said. “After the weeklong treatment, I'm happy to report zero sensitivity or stinging.”

To use, just apply the whitening gel and insert the LED accelerator. It’s hands-free, plugging into your phone for just five minutes twice a day. You should see results in about a week—and, according to our testing, they should be impressive. “I'm really impressed with how much this product whitened my teeth! I went from an S16 to S6 [on the shade chart], which is more than I expected to be completely honest,” our tester said. “Especially since this isn't a very expensive product and it didn't hurt my teeth. I guess I associated effectiveness with pain, which now I'm really glad I know isn't necessarily the case!”

Price at time of publication: $40

Product Details:

  • Product Type: Kit
  • Active Ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide
  • Frequency of Use: Twice daily
  • Duration of Use: Five minutes
  • Time to Results: One week

Best Peroxide-free

Oral Essentials Lumineux Teeth Whitening Strips 21 Treatments Certified Non-Toxic

Oral Essentials Lumineux Teeth Whitening Strips 21 Treatments Certified Non-Toxic

Amazon

Why We Like It: This peroxide-free formulation is extra gentle on sensitive teeth

It’s Worth Noting: Natural ingredients may not whiten as quickly as peroxides

If you have sensitive teeth, you’ve probably also had a bad experience with peroxide—it might even be the source of your tooth sensitivity. “Whitening… temporarily dehydrates the tooth, which makes teeth more sensitive following a high concentration whitening treatment,” says Lucy Hovanisyan, DDS, of ProHealth Dental in New Jersey, explaining that “peroxide can pass through the enamel to the dentin layer of the tooth and irritate the pulp (nerve) of the tooth.” 

While peroxide is the main ingredient in most whitening products, it’s possible to get long-lasting results without it. The Lumineux family of whitening products are all made without peroxide, instead using a blend of essential oils to brighten smiles, with coconut oil acting as the brand’s primary whitening agent.

Instead of pain and burning, you can expect brighter teeth without the chemical taste you normally get from whitening products; the essential oil blend tastes great too. Like most whitening strips, you can use the Lumineux Teeth Whitening Strips as an everyday treatment. Just apply strips to your upper and lower teeth for 30 minutes for one week. Use your remaining treatments once or twice a week for maintenance for a whiter smile without any pain or sensitivity. Each pack comes with 42 strips, enough for 21 treatments. 

Price at time of publication: $40 for a 21 treatments

Product Details:

  • Product Type: Strips
  • Active Ingredients: Coconut oil
  • Frequency of Use: Once daily
  • Duration of Use: 30 minutes
  • Time to Results: One week

Best Multi-Benefit

Crest Whitening Emulsions Pen

Crest Whitening Emulsions Pen

Courtesy of Amazon

Why We Like It: This pen pulls double duty by hydrating your teeth to reduce sensitivity and whitening them at the same time

It’s Worth Noting: The tube applicator might be prone to leaks if not handled carefully

While there are many causes of tooth sensitivity, yours might be due to tooth dehydration—at least according to dental research: “Although its causes are poorly understood, tooth sensitivity is most often seen as the result of tooth dehydration,” write dentists Gerard Kugel and Susana Ferreira in “The Art and Science of Teeth Whitening.” So if you want whiter teeth, it may feel like you can only treat teeth for sensitivity or whiten them and not both simultaneously, but that’s not the case. Multi-benefit treatments can strengthen and whiten teeth for whiter teeth and less sensitivity in the future.

Fan-favorite whitening brand Crest has the solution to your hydrating and whitening needs. The Crest Whitening Emulsions Pen hydrates your teeth with hydrogen peroxide suspended in a hydrating blend of petrolatum and sorbitan palmitate. You can use this pen up to four times a day, and you should see full results in 14 treatments—meaning you could have a whiter, more hydrated smile in as few as four days.

Price at time of publication: $50

Product Details:

  • Product Type: Pen
  • Active Ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide
  • Frequency of Use: Up to four times daily
  • Duration of Use: One minute
  • Time to Results: Four days

Best Device

GLO Science GLO Brilliant White Smile - At Home Teeth Whitening Device

GLO Science GLO Brilliant White Smile Teeth Whitening Kit

Sephora

Why We Like It: It offers high-level whitening results in just five days

It’s Worth Noting: It’s more expensive than other similar whitening products

LED lights can dehydrate teeth, giving them that extra-white look just after use so they can be extra tough on sensitive teeth. The GLO Brilliant White Smile Teeth Whitening Device lets you get a super bright smile with an LED device without the sensitivity. When we tested the best teeth whitening kits, our tester noted that the GLO Brilliant Teeth Whitening Kit didn’t cause any discomfort or added sensitivity. “The gel itself isn't uncomfortable, and the blue light device doesn't cause any sensitivity (which is surprising because I have really sensitive teeth!),” our tester said.

This kit includes a vegan lip care treatment to keep lips from drying out during whitening. Just apply it to your lips, add the whitening gel to your teeth, and use the LED device for 24 minutes, once per day. You should see results in five days, which is shorter than most of the other whitening treatments on our list.

Price at time of publication: $159

Product Details:

  • Product Type: LED device
  • Active Ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide
  • Frequency of Use: Once daily
  • Duration of Use: 24 minutes
  • Time to Results: Five days

How We Selected

To find the best teeth whitening products for sensitive teeth, we talked to dentists to find out what ingredients shoppers should look for and avoid as well as what considerations people with sensitive teeth should take before trying a whitening treatment. We also looked at our previous teeth whitening test and considered what testers with sensitive teeth had to say about each product. Whitening treatments take many forms, so we picked a treatment from each category, making it easy to pick the right one for you.

Our experts include:

What to Know About Teeth Whitening Products for Sensitive Teeth

Ingredients

According to Dr. Velayo, peroxides—either hydrogen or carbamide—are the most effective whitening ingredients because of how they interact with stains. “These ingredients penetrate the enamel to reverse intrinsic and extrinsic stains,” she says. “Peroxide gels break down into water, oxygen, and reactive oxygen molecules. These reactive oxygen molecules treat both the enamel and the dentin, oxidizing the bonds of discolored stain molecules. By changing the stained molecules, the tooth becomes lighter.”

Additionally, you “should look for potassium nitrate, fluoride, and/or xylitol because of their added benefits to improve patient comfort and post-op sensitivity,” she adds.

While charcoal is a popular whitening ingredient, the dentists we spoke to recommended against charcoal products. Instead of whitening your teeth, charcoal can actually make your teeth appear more yellow by wearing away at the enamel and exposing the yellow dentin underneath. More importantly for people with sensitive teeth, the dentin layer is softer and more prone to causing pain and discomfort if exposed.

Type

If picking out a teeth whitening product, consider what type you’d like to use. “​​When deciding which whitening product is best for you, you must first assess what type of staining or discoloration you have,” says Dr. Velayo.

Teeth whitening products come in several different types, so how and why you’re whitening your teeth is important when deciding which product you’ll use. If you’re looking for a dedicated treatment that’ll net you higher-level whitening results, try a gel kit. Dr. Velayo suggests trying a kit with about 10 to 15 percent peroxide, which should give you noticeable results in just a couple of treatments.

As Dr. Velayo previously told Health, white strips are also one of the most effective whitening treatments because of their application and ingredients. “Whitening strips that have a higher peroxide concentration, plus have the added benefit of increased wear interaction between the teeth and ingredients, are the most effective products,” she says.

But if you’re looking for a more convenient option, teeth whitening pens and toothpastes are easy to take on the go or use daily—they’ll just take a little longer for full results.

How Much to Expect to Pay for Teeth Whitening Products for Sensitive Teeth

Teeth whitening products for sensitive teeth are generally inexpensive, as many solutions include everyday treatments like toothpaste and mouthwash. For more traditional whitening treatments for sensitive teeth, like whitening strips and gels, you can expect to pay between $30 and $50.

Your Questions, Answered

Is teeth whitening safe for sensitive teeth?

Whether teeth whitening is right for you depends on the type of oral sensitivity you have. Issues like gingivitis, tooth decay, and cavities are best dealt with professionally before trying a teeth whitening treatment, advises Dr. Yazdani, as the “chances of pain, irritation, or discomfort getting worse increase when you apply a whitening agent.”

If your tooth sensitivity stems from worn enamel, you can still use a whitening treatment, but you should be cautious. Only use the treatment as directed, making sure not to leave gel or strips on your teeth for any longer than the directions state, as this can lead to further sensitivity.

Can tooth sensitivity go away?

Tooth sensitivity can be managed down to a level where it’s no longer noticeable and may even go away while whitening. A few of the multi-benefit products we’ve recommended here—like the Sensodyne ProNamel Gentle Whitening Toothpaste and TheraBreath Whitening Mouthwash—can be incorporated into your daily oral hygiene routine to help strengthen and whiten teeth. 

“Use toothpaste with active ingredients that can help calm the nerves in your teeth, such as potassium nitrate, fluoride, or strontium chloride,” says Dr. Yazdani. “Over time, the teeth will build up a resistance to the usual triggers.”

Who We Are

Jaylyn Pruitt covers teeth whitening for Health and Verywell Health and uses TheraBreath’s Whitening Mouthwash as part of her regular dental routine. She has a Master of Library and Information Science with a focus on health information. Her goal is to provide easy-to-understand information with a patient perspective in mind.

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Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  3. Pauli MC, Kanemaru MYS, Vieira WF, et al. Current status of whitening agents and enzymes in dentistry. Braz. J. Pharm. Sci. 2022;58. doi:10.1590/s2175-979020201000X32e19501

  4. Gasmi Benahmed A, Gasmi A, Menzel A, et al. A review on natural teeth whitening. J Oral Biosci. 2022;64(1):49-58. doi:10.1016/j.job.2021.12.002

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