If you love your coffee, red wine, or other dark-colored beverages, your teeth likely show the effects. But just because you have cravings doesn’t mean you can’t also have a bright smile!
20 years ago, you would’ve needed to pay upwards of $600 for professional treatment or hope for the best with a whitening toothpaste. But today, there are tons of convenient, affordable, and effective whitening systems that provide great results from home.
But not all teeth whitening products are the same, and some deliver better results than others. We’re here to help you find your ideal solution, so we’ve compiled our picks for the top at-home teeth whitening kits, strips, and pens.
Table of Contents
Best LED Whitening Kits
LED whitening kits combine whitening agents and blue wavelengths to amplify tooth brightening. They accomplish this by breaking apart the gel faster, allowing it to get to work as soon as it is applied. LED light also can open the pores of the teeth faster so the gel gets deeper into the tooth to break up set-in stains.
Full disclosure: there is skepticism around LED lights in whitening kits. However, studies have shown them to be effective at whitening teeth. It’s a good idea to do some reading on them before making your purchase, though.
GLO Brilliant: Professional Results
It’s the biggest conflict in teeth whitening: should you visit the dentist for enhanced technology or whiten at home? GLO Brilliant doesn’t force you to choose one or the other. They give you the power of the professional GLO system in a pocket-sized device.
Using Guided Light Optics (where GLO gets its name), this system pairs heat with LED lights to deepen the reach of the whitening gel and achieve the brightest smile possible. It’s one of a handful of at-home teeth whitening systems with FDA approval and has received two Edison Awards for excellence in product development.
GLO Brilliant Advantages
- Many customers notice a difference after a single session.
- The LED light is designed to last for years, so in the future, you can save money by simply repurchasing the whitening solution.
- Combining heat with LED speeds up the whitening process and can brighten teeth by five shades in just five days.
- The fact that they have FDA approval means the company has put their product to the test and has completed more documentation than most competitors.
GLO Brilliant Disadvantages
- Each whitening session requires you to apply the gel four different times — more than what other products require.
- The battery doesn’t hold a charge well, so you’ll need to charge it daily.
SNOW: Ideal for On the Go
Most whitening products are small and pretty easy to take on the go, but portability isn’t at the center of their design. With SNOW, it is. The whitening gel is in pens, not syringes, making spills and overapplication unlikely. And the LED light piece is powered by a cable that connects to your phone, so you never need to worry about keeping it charged.
Despite being a powerful treatment, SNOW has proven especially effective for people with sensitive teeth, and the company has already brightened millions of smiles. Their $149 sticker price is on the higher end of the spectrum; however, you can get 75 or more treatments from the kit, which brings the cost down to just $2 per session, making SNOW one of the most affordable whitening products in the long run.
- The LED light gets power from your phone, so you don’t need to remember to charge it.
- Everything is highly portable and comes with a bag for easy transport.
- You get two different types of whitening pens, so you can customize your approach based on the results you want.
- The gel is gluten-free, cruelty-free, vegan, and doesn’t cause sensitivity, so most customers can use it.
- Not everyone appreciates pen applicators. While they are quick and simple, the gel tends to wash off quickly, giving it minimal time to work.
- You are connected to your phone for the duration of each whitening session.
Best Whitening Strips
Teeth whitening strips are one of the easiest ways to brighten your smile. You simply dry your teeth, open the strip, press it to your teeth, then remove it after the right amount of time has passed. The strip contains an adhesive to hold it in place plus the gel, making it an all-in-one solution.
All whitening strips work in the same way, but there are still features that make each one unique, from affordable pricing to all-natural ingredients. The right one for you depends on your preferences.
BURST Whitening Strips: Most Affordable
If price is your top concern, you can’t do better than BURST. Purchase their whitening strips using their website’s subscribe and save option and you’ll pay just $1 per whitening session. That’s the lowest price on this list and one of the lowest among all home whitening treatments.
BURST specifically designs their products to fulfill unmet needs in the dental industry, as identified by BURST Ambassadors — practicing dental professionals in the U.S. Their formula combines traditional ingredients with natural ones, making it simultaneously powerful, fast-acting, and gentle.
- You can keep your whitening sessions to just 10-15 minutes a day.
- BURST Whitening Strips are the most affordable strips on the market when you purchase through their website.
- They combine traditional whitening agents with more natural ones for a well-rounded approach to brightening your smile.
- Sometimes, the adhesive doesn’t fully keep the strip in place.
- The gel doesn’t cause tooth sensitivity for most, but it can burn the gums.
Lumineux Whitening Strips: All Natural
As Lumineux states on their website: “You shouldn’t have to choose between a product that is good for you and a product that actually works.” That’s why their whitening strips use essential oils and sea salt to break up stains rather than peroxide.
The only synthetic ingredient in these strips is carbomer — the adhesive that holds the strip in place — and there’s currently no all-natural substitute. Despite what you might expect, these all-natural ingredients rival traditional ones in terms of results. While you won’t get a Hollywood-white smile with these strips, you’ll still enjoy noticeable changes.
Lumineux Oral Essentials Teeth Whitening Strips Advantages
- They skip the peroxide, making the strips gentle and better-tasting.
- You can use them long-term on a daily basis. Other strips can harm your teeth if you use them too often.
- They don’t cause tooth sensitivity.
Lumineux Oral Essentials Teeth Whitening Strips Disadvantages
- Some customers report that the bottom strip is a little too small for their teeth.
- It takes longer to see results than with traditional formulas.
SNOW The Magic Strips: Dissolvable
Few names in the world of teeth whitening are as big as SNOW — in fact, they make our list of the best whitening pens as well! Like any teeth whitening method, strips have their pros and cons, and one of the biggest drawbacks is removing them.
This step gets messy, but SNOW eliminates it. Their strips dissolve in your mouth, so there is no waste to deal with, just a whiter smile to enjoy. On top of this, whitening sessions are just 15 minutes long in most cases.
SNOW The Magic Strips Advantages
- Since they dissolve, they aren’t as messy as other strips — no muss, no fuss.
- They can dissolve in as little as 15 minutes (though might take up to 30).
- The strips adhere to your teeth without slipping and sliding around.
SNOW The Magic Strips Disadvantages
- The adhesive is super sticky and can get caught on the fingers and lips. It’s great for holding the strips in place, not so great for getting them there.
- Some customers say that the flavor is a little too similar to perfume.
Best Whitening Pens
Whitening pens are the grab-and-go method of teeth whitening. Since there is nothing to hold the gel to your teeth, they aren’t as effective as trays or strips, but they are excellent for maintaining a white smile. You just click or twist the pen to dispense the gel, brush it onto clean, dry teeth, and prevent your lips and saliva from touching your teeth for about 60 seconds.
There aren’t a lot of differences between the various whitening pens on the market, but most will have a feature that helps them stand out, such as a special flavor, professional formula, or wide availability. The good news is that most are highly affordable, so you can try out a few options and then decide which is best for you.
MOON Whitening Pen: Best Flavor
The MOON Teeth Whitening Pen is a partnership between MOON and Kardashian-famous Kendall Jenner. We know: celebrity products feel gimmicky, but this one is legit. MOON was founded by Shaun Neff with the goal of making oral healthcare part of the standard beauty experience and their pen certainly hits the mark.
Formulated with their proprietary Elixir III, MOON’s pen delivers powerful whitening paired with amazing flavor — a combination of honeysuckle, strawberry extract, and vanilla. It also has light-reflecting particles in the formula, which helps make your smile appear bright instantly after application.
- The pen’s sleek design feels more like makeup than an oral care product.
- The peroxide taste is fully masked by the Elixir III.
- Lasting results might take a few days, but the light-reflecting particles give your smile an instant boost.
- The only brick-and-mortar store offering MOON is Ulta.
- Some customers have reported that the formula burns their gums.
Philips Zoom Whitening Pen: Professional Formula
Philips Zoom was originally just an in-office treatment. When dentists reported that their patients needed a way to maintain their smiles between sessions, Philips launched the Zoom Whitening Pen, selling it through dental practices and directly to consumers.
Zoom’s pen is one of the most powerful on the market and can deliver up to a five-shade difference in your smile — that’s three more shades than the average pen. And while it cannot match the results of their in-office treatment, at just $23, it’s much more affordable than their $600+ professional treatments.
Philips Zoom Advantages
- It can brighten the teeth by up to five shades, beating the majority of whitening pens.
- It uses the same formula as their professional treatment — just a lower peroxide concentration.
- The formula disguises the flavor of peroxide with mint.
Philips Zoom Disadvantages
- The gel washes off the teeth very easily so there is minimal time for it to take effect.
- The company states you should not use it if you have cosmetic or restorative dentistry.
Choose GLO Brilliant if…
You want professional whitening technology in the palm of your hand while skipping the dentist’s office price.
Choose BURST Teeth Whitening Strips if…
You want a convenient, affordable whitening option with a gentle formulation.
How to Evaluate Teeth Whitening Systems
What makes one teeth whitening system better than others? That depends on who you ask. Your goals and priorities won’t be the same as someone else’s. When selecting our picks for the best teeth whitening systems, we looked at five factors we feel have the most universal impact: effectiveness, affordability, quality of ingredients, convenience, and comfort.
A whitening product can have all the bells and whistles in the world, but if it doesn’t brighten your smile, it’s a waste of money. Effectiveness is the top feature any whitening product must have. You can’t test drive every option, but you can do what we did — dig deep into testimonials and reviews to see which products actually work.
Some of us have bigger budgets than others, but everyone has a limit on what they’re willing to spend on teeth whitening. For every whitening kit you consider, look at both the price tag and how that cost breaks down per session. This gives you the most well-rounded look at a product’s affordability.
Quality of Ingredients
Knowing a product can whiten your teeth is essential. Knowing how it whitens your teeth is just as important. You need to be assured that the ingredients are safe and that they meet your needs — vegan, gluten-free, etc. All products should list their ingredients. If you find one that doesn’t, steer clear.
As a busy adult, you don’t want whitening your teeth to strain your schedule. Some products are very easy to use — clean your teeth, peel the strip, and stick it on. Others require more effort, like GLO, where you need to measure gel and reapply it four times per session. Before you buy, decide how much time you’re willing to dedicate to your teeth-whitening routine.
Even the best teeth whitening products can feel a little awkward. However, you might have specific sensory concerns, like the taste or the texture. Look for a product that you can feel comfortable using.
What About Professional Whitening Treatments?
There are some huge benefits to whitening your teeth at home. It’s convenient, discreet, and affordable. But there are also advantages to visiting your dentist for teeth whitening treatment.
In-office teeth whitening delivers fast results. With at-home kits, you’ll spend days, even weeks, whitening your teeth before you can see a multi-shade difference in your smile. Dentist-administered whitening can brighten your smile by multiple shades in about an hour. While it might cost more money, it saves you a whole lot of time.
At-home kits are also limited in their power because, when used incorrectly, teeth-bleaching chemicals can be dangerous. Dentists have access to more concentrated formulas, allowing their treatments to achieve a brighter white.
Finally, in-office teeth whitening results last longer than those from at-home systems. Since they use more powerful whitening agents, they reach deeper into the teeth. As a result, it takes longer for stains to begin showing again.
So, if in-office whitening offers these benefits, why choose at-home kits? For most people, it comes down to price and convenience. In-office whitening typically costs between $600 and $1,000 per treatment, and at-home kits are a fraction of that cost. And even though dentist-directed treatment is finished after one sitting, many people find it easier to whiten their teeth as they go about their routine at home, even if it takes more sessions.
When Is Teeth Whitening Not a Good Choice?
Teeth whitening is safe for the overwhelming majority of adults. However, there are some who are not good candidates for treatment, at home or otherwise. Avoid teeth whitening or at least consult with your dentist if you:
- Are allergic to peroxide or other common whitening ingredients.
- Have any active dental conditions, including gum disease.
- Have fillings, veneers, or crowns.
- Currently have braces.
- Have cracks or chips in your teeth.
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Have stains that whitening cannot correct.
Additionally, if you take any medications, make sure that there are no risks of interactions with the specific product you choose.
If you want your smile to be the best it can be, teeth whitening kits can help you reach your goals. Take time to think about the features that matter most to you and do plenty of research so you can select the best possible fit. If you choose any of the items on our list, we’re confident you’ll love your results.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it safe to whiten your teeth at home?
Yes! All of the products on our list are safe to use unless you are contraindicated for whitening your teeth or allergic to one of the ingredients. Just make sure you read the instructions carefully and follow them to a T.
Can I use whitening toothpaste and a whitening kit at the same time?
Talk to your dentist about it first. While we can’t think of a reason this would be a problem for most people, you never know. And when it comes to your enamel, it is better to be safe than sorry. In any case, a toothpaste for sensitive teeth might be better.
How do whitening kits remove stains?
The whitening gel opens the pores of the teeth, letting the solution get inside. Once there, it breaks up the stains into smaller chunks and lifts them out through the opened pores.
Should I get a professional cleaning before whitening my teeth?
It’s not required, but it is a great idea. Tartar can prevent even whitening, and when it is later removed, it will reveal the stains underneath.
How long will my teeth stay white?
There is no set time frame. The product you use, your habits, and your genetics all play a role. You might find that your smile stays bright for two years or that you need maintenance treatments every six months or so.
Is there anything I can do to keep my smile whiter for longer?
We suggest you take the following steps:
- Drink staining beverages through a straw
- Eat fewer heavily pigmented foods
- Rinse with water after eating
- Brush twice per day and floss once per day
- Use a whitening toothpaste
- Don’t smoke
If I develop sensitivity from whitening, will it last forever?
No, once you stop whitening your teeth, within a few days, the pores of the enamel will close and the sensitivity will go away.
Can I whiten my teeth while wearing braces?
Most whitening products won’t damage the braces themselves (but some might so talk to your doctor first). However, they cannot get below the brackets, so when your braces come off, you’ll have stains in the shape of your brackets.
I’ve heard whitening can cause white spots on the teeth. Is this dangerous?
No, this happens when the enamel becomes dehydrated from peroxide pulling the moisture in the teeth out. It’s totally normal and will go away once you are done whitening.