Already have an account?
Get back to the

Cosmetic Dentists: The 7 Best At-Home Ways To Whiten Sensitive Teeth

Get the most "white" for the least "ouch" — for $100s less than in-office whitening


Woman's World has affiliate partnerships. We receive compensation when you click on a link and make a purchase. Learn more!

Our teeth seem to lose a bit more luster every year, dimming our smile and confidence. And while whitening and brightening our teeth is a relatively simple and oftentimes, low-cost process, the sting that it can bring on for people with sensitive teeth can have us hesitant to try it. Luckily, there are teeth whitening for sensitive teeth products on the market that are more likely to work without creating the pesky zaps and zings that those of us with sensitive teeth are way too familiar with. That means they can take years off your look — pain-free.

What causes teeth yellowing

Throughout our 40s, most yellowing is due to a buildup of surface stains from things like berries, coffee and wine, explains Lana Rozenberg, DDS, a cosmetic dentist in New York City. Once we hit 50, the surface enamel on teeth starts to weaken, Dr. Rozenberg explains, allowing stains to seep into the “cracks.” By the time 60 rolls around, as enamel erodes, it exposes dentin, the gray or yellow layer under the tooth’s surface. This leads to dull discoloration, plus makes teeth more prone to sensitivity ­— the sharp zings we get when we eat or drink something hot or cold. And that means the more intense whitening methods we used in the past can be too painful now. 

What causes teeth sensitivity — and how does whitening worsen it?

During whitening, there are little tubes inside our teeth that “open up” and allow for the whitening product like hydrogen peroxide to travel toward the nerves of the teeth with much more ease than normal, explains Lawrence Fung, DDS, of Silicon Beach Dental in Culver City, California. This can manifest in what he calls a “slight pain, which is the zing, like when you eat or drink something cold.” 

If your teeth are sensitive to begin with, you’re more prone to sensitivity during whitening. “Some of the main culprits in teeth sensitivity include gum recession (usually from brushing improperly) and lost enamel due to overzealous brushing or acid erosion,” explains Michael Kosdon, DDS, a cosmetic dentist in New York City. “People who grind and clench their teeth can cause hypersensitivity due to chipped/damaged enamel. Lastly, people who have cavities and extensive dental work like deep fillings and crowns can have a lot of sensitivity.” 

The amount of birthday candles on your cake can be a factor too. Dr. Kosdon explains that not only do our gums typically recede over the years, but “from normal wear and tear, teeth get shorter over time as the enamel slowly wears away, exposing dentin which is the yellowish color material directly beneath the protective enamel.” The whitening result? Ouch.

Related: Dentists Finally Settle the Debate on Using Mouthwash Before or After Brushing

The best teeth whitening for sensitive teeth products

Collage of products for teeth whitening for sensitive teeth.

Is it safe to whiten with sensitivity?

For mild cases of sensitivity, it’s generally considered safe to whiten occasionally — though it’s smart to check with your dentist just in case. 

“For sensitive teeth, there are two options: either whiten at home with a low-concentration over-the-counter white strip system or do an in-office treatment,” says Dr. Fung. Some may want to go the in-office route. Dr. Dalit Yadegaran, DMD, also of Silicon Beach Dental, says, “If you have gum recession, in-office whitening is recommended because your dentist will place a barrier over the areas of exposed root structure. A downside to at-home whitening is that unless the strips or trays are custom-molded to your teeth, the strips and trays are made off a generic template which doesn’t account for gum recession, which may leave you with more sensitivity.” 

However, if your dentist clears you for an at-home treatment, Dr. Kosdon points out that looking for gentle products marked for sensitive teeth can be a better way to go, as they often have lower concentrations of the ingredients known to cause sensitivity like hydrogen peroxide. He adds, “You can try using the at-home products every other day and for less time to minimize the sensitivity.” Dr. Yadegaran agrees, explaining she recommends to her patients that with whitening products “moderation is key.” For example, she says, “It’s best to use a whitening toothpaste for the few days leading up to an event, and a non-whitening toothpaste for the rest of the week.”  

What are the best at-home whiteners for sensitive teeth?

According to our experts and user reviews, these are the best options out there for people who want a DIY brighter smile without the agony:

Colgate Optic White Renewal Toothpaste

best overall toothpaste
Colgate Optic White Toothpaste 2 pack for whitening with sensitive teeth.

Buy from Amazon, $12.99 (2 pack)

Why we like it

  • Whitens gently
  • Not damaging to enamel

Formulated with a low 3% hydrogen peroxide to help remove stains without damaging tooth enamel, this paste is one of Dr. Kosdon’s favorites. Reviews on Amazon rave about the way it gently whitens and the clean feeling it leaves behind, and some love the fact that it also happens to be vegan and gluten- and sugar-free.

Smile Direct Club Ultra-Gentle Sensitivity-Free Teeth Whitening Kit with LED Light

best LED kit
Smile Direct Club LED Whitening Kit for whitening sensitive teeth.
Smile Direct Club/Amazon

Buy from Amazon, $49.98

Why we like it

  • Fast results 
  • Includes a fortifying enamel care gel

One of the clever ways this LED kit helps hold off sensitivity? By including an enamel care gel you use for 10 minutes after each whitening session to help sooth the area. With a patented wireless rechargeable light you can take with you on the go, this gentle whitening formula works effectively, according to its fans, with many hailing its fast results.

Crest 3D White Strips for Sensitive Teeth 

best strips
Crest 3D sensitive whitening strips.

Buy from Walmart, $34.94

Why we like it

  • Hands-free use
  • Extra gentle formula

These tried-and-true whiteners got a shoutout from all of the dentists we interviewed, with Dr. Kosdon explaining, “This product has been around for years and has consistently delivered good results with minimal sensitivity.” They’re also convenient — thanks to their strong grip, you can pop them on and go about your day while you’re wearing them. Dr. Yadegaran’s advice for getting the most out of these strips: “Be sure to floss and brush first, then dab your teeth dry with a paper towel before applying. The drier your teeth are, the easier it is for the whitening solution to work.” 

Go Smile Teeth Whitening Gel

best gel
Go Smile Whitening Gel for teeth whitening for sensitive teeth.
Go Smile

Buy from Ulta, $29

Why we like it

  • Shown in clinical trials not to trigger irritation or sensitivity 
  • Mess-free application

Add this peroxide-spiked gel to your toothpaste and brush as usual for a whitening boost twice a day. It’s formulated to lift away stains effectively yet gently and was even shown in the brand’s clinical trials to leave behind almost no irritation or tooth sensitivity. It also gets bonus points for gliding on smoothly without leaving behind a mess.  

Opalescence Go Pre-Filled Whitening Trays 

best trays
Opalescence Go Whitening Tray.

Buy from Walmart, $84

Why we like it

  • Sensitivity-friendly levels of hydrogen peroxide 
  • Great taste

Dr. Kosdon points to these little pop-in-and-go trays as a great choice for people with sensitivity, thanks to its low 10% concentration of hydrogen peroxide. You can wear them for 30 to 60 minutes per day, though you can start with 20 if you’re worried about the sting. Choose between two flavors, mint or melon, which reviewers say are tastier than some other products on the market. 

Sensodyne Repair and Protect Whitening Sensitive Toothpaste

Best enamel-boosting paste
Sensodyne Repair and Protect Whitening Sensitive Toothpaste

Buy from Walmart, $12.49 (2 pack)

Why we like it

  • Includes an additive that repairs enamel
  • Multitasks by protecting against cavities

Sensodyne is known to help minimize tooth sensitivity — in fact, Dr. Fung advises his patients to brush with the brand’s basic formula two to three weeks prior to whitening to help curb pain. So it’s no surprise its whitening formula gets high praise from sensitive users for helping protect from cavities while it whitens. The magic is in the repairing stannous fluoride inside, which fills the tubes of the teeth where those sensitive zaps occur to prevent pain. 

ACT Whitening + Anticavity Fluoride Mouthwash

best mouthwash
ACT Whitening Anticavity Fluoride Mouthwash for teeth whitening for sensitive teeth.

Buy from Walmart, $15.30

Why we like it

  • Contains enamel-remineralizing fluoride
  • Free of alcohol and dyes

If you’re going to go for a whitening mouthwash, looking for one with fluoride is a good way to make sure it doesn’t damage your enamel, explains Dr. Kosdon. ACT gets love from people with sensitivities of all kinds for being free of alcohol and dyes. And it’s a great multitasker: It whitens teeth, freshens breath and remineralizes soft spots all at the same time.

Click through for more on teeth whitening:

Is Charcoal Toothpaste More Effective Than the Regular Kind to Whiten Teeth?

For a Brighter, Whiter Smile, Make These Foods a Part of Your Daily Diet

How to Whiten Your Teeth With Strawberries

Yellow Teeth? Make ‘Em Whiter in Minutes With These DIY Dental Hacks

Beth Shapouri is a beauty, wellness and lifestyle writer whose work has appeared in,, and more. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and a very cute dog. Visit to see more of her work. 

Use left and right arrow keys to navigate between menu items. Use right arrow key to move into submenus. Use escape to exit the menu. Use up and down arrow keys to explore. Use left arrow key to move back to the parent list.