The 8 Best Whitening Products for Sensitive Teeth and Gums

Gentle yet effective.

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

teeth-smiling-GettyImages-77746397
Photo: moodboard/Getty Images

Whitening your teeth at home is challenging if you have sensitive teeth. While there are countless whitening strips, toothpastes, and other treatments on the market, those with sensitive teeth and gums need to be more cautious about the products they select.

Getting whiter, brighter teeth is all about the active ingredients, explains Kim Wright, DMD, an Academy of General Dentistry spokesperson from West Lin, Oregon."There are two general formulas for bleaching," she tells us. "Hydrogen peroxide-based and carbamide peroxide-based, and some people have differing levels of sensitivity with each of them."The concentration of the active bleach ingredient correlates with sensitivity, she says—in other words, a formula that contains 22% carbamide peroxide will likely trigger more sensitivity than one with just 10%.

Dr. Wright also tells us that these different whitening agents can also cause two different kinds of sensitivity. "The first can be gum sensitivity from excess bleaching gel touching the gums and actually causing a slight chemical burn," she says, adding that this type of sensitivity should go away within a few days. The second form of sensitivity, however, usually comes from the tooth itself. "This is usually expressed as cold sensitivity for a few days after bleaching. If this happens, allowing more days between bleaching allows the tooth to recover."

How effective these ingredients will be in whitening also depends on what has made your teeth less-than-pearly-white in the first place. "If [stains] are from surface staining from coffee or tea, they're easily removed with any peroxide/carbamide based agent," Dr. Wright says.Stains from the the antibiotic tetracycline can take longer to lift, however. Dr. Wright also notes that there aren't any at-home methods for whitening teeth after a root canal, but your dentist can bleach them in-office.

As for when to start, Dr. Wright recommends beginning the process immediately after a professional dental cleaning. The reason? "Much of the surface stain should be gone, and you can get right to the deeper stains on the enamel."

Below, we've rounded up the top whitening products designed specifically for those with sensitive teeth.

Best Strips: Crest 3D White Whitestrips Gentle Routine Teeth Whitening Kit

sensitive-white-strips-crest
Amazon

Crest's original whitening strips are known for delivering great results, and this version uses the same powerful whitening ingredients—hydrogen peroxide and sodium hydroxide—at lower levels so as not to irritate sensitive teeth and gums. Keeping these on for the full recommended 30 minutes is even easier thanks to Crest's latest Advanced Seal Technology, which makes the strips less slippery than the originals.

One reviewer wrote: "My teeth are so thin and sensitive. I was afraid these would hurt my teeth but good news! They didn't! I drink coffee daily and have white teeth. They are easy to use. You put the strips on for 30 minutes. They taste mildly minty. Not nasty. After the second treatment I could already see a difference. Now after the final strips my teeth are white!"

Best Toothpaste: Sensodyne Extra Whitening Toothpaste

teeth-whitening-sensitive-sensodyne-toothpaste
Amazon

This toothpaste gently and gradually whitens by breaking up stains with 5% potassium nitrate. It also helps to build up a protective barrier on teeth, which can help soothe daily pain and make teeth less sensitive over time.

"Extremely impressed," said one shopper. "Best toothpaste ever, my teeth were really getting sensitive to hot and cold but not anymore using this. Can actually say my teeth have never been whiter, win-win!"

Best Device: GLO SCIENCE GLO Brilliant Teeth Whitening Device

teeth-whitening-sensitive-glo-science-kit
Sephora

This dentist-formulated device combines heat, blue LED light, and hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth in quick and easy eight-minute treatments. The kit guarantees results with less sensitivity, and even comes with a lip treatment that can be used simultaneously to treat your lips while the mouthpiece works its whitening magic.

"I was very apprehensive in regards to trying to whiten my teeth at home but the kit was so easy to use and I felt like I noticed my teeth getting whiter in just a short amount of time," raved one reviewer. "I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in improving their smile. Even with tooth sensitivity I didn't have any issues."

Best Kit: Oral Essentials Lumineux Whitening Kit

oral-essentials-lumineux-white-strips
thrivemarket.com

If the thought of peroxide is enough to make you grit your teeth, these dentist-formulated strips skip the ingredient altogether, opting instead for Dead Sea salt, coconut oil, sage oil, and lemon peel oil to help naturally lift stains. They're also safe to use on porcelain caps, crowns, and veneers.

One happy shopper wrote, "I was a little skeptical of these since it was an IG ad that I saw but wow... these are AMAZING! They really do a great job of whitening (you see IMMEDIATE results and they do not make your teeth sensitive AT ALL). Within a week, my teeth were significantly whiter! I also used the toothpaste and mouthwash and although they helped, you really could just use the strips and see great results. I will absolutely be using these as my whitening routine!"

Best Pen: TrueWhite Teeth Whitening Pen

TrueWhite Teeth Whitening Pen
Amazon

If you're too impatient—or too sensitive—to wait for whitening strips to work their magic, this pen-style product is for you. With a gentle-yet-effective formula that includes carbamide peroxide and active oxygen that targets dark spots and breaks down stains, it'll safely whiten your teeth with visible results after just a few uses. Brush on once or twice a day and wait 25-30 minutes before eating or drinking—the refreshing mint taste and scent will fool you into thinking you've just brushed your teeth.

Best Gel: GO Smile Teeth Whitening Gel

teeth-whitening-sensitive-go-smile-gel
Nordstrom

If you're already in a serious relationship with your favorite toothpaste, try adding this to your routine. Hydrogen peroxide is the active ingredient in the gel—which is not meant to be used alone—and you can add a little or a lot to your normal toothpaste application based on your level of sensitivity. The ability to control how much of the active ingredient you include gives you the power to personalize your usage and reap the whitening benefits with a lower risk of pain.

"I can't use most whitening products due to sensitive teeth," said one customer. "This is the only product that whitens without sensitivity. You definitely need to use it twice a day every day to be effective. Does it make your teeth super white… like some of those whose teeth are soooo white they look fake? No… but it does whiten fairly decently, plus I don't want that ridiculous fake look anyway. I am a daily coffee drinker and occasional red wine drinker."

Best Mouthwash: Dr. Brite Whitening Mouthwash

Dr. Brite Natural Whitening Mouthwash,
Amazon

This cruelty-free whitening mouthwash by Dr. Brite uses activated charcoal to brighten your smile and freshen breath without causing sensitivity. Plus, it's also infused with aloe vera, vitamin C, and organic coconut oil to improve gum health. Since all the mouthwash's ingredients are 100% edible, it won't be harmful if you accidentally swallow some of the product.

"This mouthwash really deserves five stars," wrote one shopper. "I initially just loved the whitening effect. Then I ordered one bottle of a different brand (thought about saving some dollars) but then my forgotten toothache came back. [I] switched again to this mouthwash and the toothache is gone. Can't explain how, [but] just seeing the good effects."

Customer Loved: Zimba Teeth Whitening Strips

Zimba Teeth Whitening Strips - Professional-Grade Whitener
Amazon

With more than 6,000 five-star ratings, these whitening strips by Zimba are one of the most popular whitening treatments for sensitive teeth on Amazon. The teeth whitener can "make your teeth six shades whiter after just 14 uses", according to the brand. The fast-acting formula is enamel-safe and uses enamel-safe ingredients, like glycerin and coconut oil, so it shouldn't bother your teeth. Each box comes with 28 strips, and there are nine flavors to choose from, including mint, cinnamon, coconut, and peach.

"These strips really work! I've noticed a huge difference in just four days," said one reviewer. "I love that, unlike Crest white strips, there is no sensitivity with using these strips! They taste amazing and are easy to put on! Highly recommend it to anyone that wants a whiter smile!"

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles