Walk down the toothpaste section of your local drugstore and you’re bound to be bombarded with countless products claiming to make your pearly whites whiter. But with so many products to choose from, you may be wondering which work best and if these over-the-counter solutions are even safe. Luckily, the team at Reactions recently answered these questions with their most recent video.

Before we delve into how to make teeth whiter, it's important to understand why they get stained in the first place. Teeth are made up of enamel, the hardest substance in the human body. On a microscopic level, tooth enamel is made up of a network of calcium and phosphate bundled together into rod-like structures, Reactions reported. While the enamel rods are naturally stain-resistant, the tiny spaces in between the rods create the perfect hiding spot for stains and discoloration to settle. This is what can give teeth their yellowish tint.

In a nutshell, all over-the-counter teeth whitening products, from strips to mouthwash, use the same active ingredient: Hydrogen peroxide. According to Reactions, the hydrogen peroxide breaks up the chemical bonds of molecules responsible for giving the stains their color, and the result is whiter teeth. While all these products may have the same active ingredient, how they are applied can vary the degree to which they whiten. For example, strips tend to have the best results because they are applied directly on the teeth for an extended period of time.

As for the safety factor, all over-the-counter products are safe when used correctly. However, some individuals may have isolated reactions to these products such as sensitive teeth or gum irritation. Ultimately, if you are very worried about your oral health but still want to whiten your teeth, it's best to seek professional help.