Your smile is your first impression, so it’s natural to want it to look its best. Also natural? Teeth that have lost some of their luster. Whitening pens can help you erase stains from coffee, tea, berries, and more, giving you renewed confidence in your grin.
We dug deep into the world of whitening pens, listening to actual customers and determining which products are worth your time and money. The result? Five whitening pens that represent the best of the best, each with unique features that help them stand out.
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How Do Whitening Pens Work?
At their most basic, whitening pens are a grab-and-go method of whitening your teeth. Everything you need is built right into the package. You just click or twist the pen to dispense the gel, then brush it onto your clean (and dry!) teeth. Keep your lips off your teeth for about 60 seconds, avoid foods and beverages for 30-60 minutes, and enjoy a whiter smile.
The gel works the same way no matter which product you choose, even if they deliver varying levels of results. The whitening agent gets inside the enamel, breaking up the stains within, and then they are lifted out. Most pens use peroxide as their active ingredient. However, because they rarely come with anything to keep the gel on your teeth, they tend to be less effective than other whitening products.
While they all look quite similar, each whitening pen is unique. Some kits enhance their effects by including an LED light. Others stand out thanks to their flavor, all-natural ingredients, or professional formula. You’ll need to evaluate your specific needs, goals, and budget to determine which is the best option for you.
#1 Best Overall Kit: SNOW
Most whitening pens are less effective than strips and trays. But that’s not the case with SNOW. Due to the inclusion of an LED light, the gel can stay on the teeth longer and penetrate deeper into the enamel.
While SNOW loses some of the convenience most whitening pens offer, it delivers stunning results. The kit can brighten smiles by up to 7 shades with whitening sessions that take as few as nine minutes each. It comes with enough gel for at least 75 applications, bringing the cost to just $2 per session.
- The gel does not wash away since the light keeps it in place.
- All parts are small and easy to use on the go.
- The light is powered by your phone, so you don’t need to worry about batteries or charging.
- The addition of light makes treatment more complicated.
- You must stay connected to your phone while using the system.
#2 Best Flavor: MOON
The MOON Teeth Whitening Pen was born of a partnership with Kendall Jenner. While attaching a celebrity to a product can make it feel gimmicky, MOON is anything but. Founded by Shaun Neff, MOON aims to make oral care part of a pampering beauty routine, and their pen hits the mark.
Formulated with their proprietary Elixir III, the MOON Teeth Whitening Pen offers both whitening power and an amazing flavor, combining honeysuckle and strawberry extract with vanilla. It also includes light-reflecting particles, which help boost your smile as soon as the gel is applied. And despite its connection to a Jenner, this pen has an affordable price tag: just $19.99.
- The pen has a sleek design that feels more like makeup packaging.
- The peroxide taste is fully masked by the Elixir III.
- Lasting results might take a few days, but the light-reflecting particles make an instant difference.
- The only brick-and-mortar store selling is Ulta.
- Some customers found the formula burned their gums.
#3 Professional Formula: Philips Zoom
Philips Zoom was originally an in-office treatment. Dentists reported that their patients wanted a way to maintain their smiles between appointments, so Philips created the Zoom Whitening Pen, selling it both over the counter and through dental practices.
When you purchase the Zoom pen, you get one of the most powerful formulas any whitening pen has to offer. That’s why it can deliver up to a five-shade difference in your smile — three more than the average pen. And with a price around $23, it is much cheaper than their $600+ professional treatments.
Philips Zoom Advantages
- Can brighten the teeth by up to five shades.
- Cheaper than their professional treatment but uses the same formula — just a lower peroxide concentration.
- Disguises the flavor of peroxide with mint.
Philips Zoom Disadvantages
- The gel washes off the teeth very easily.
- The company states you should not use it if you have cosmetic or restorative dentistry.
#4 All-Natural: Lumineux Ultra-Bright
Many whitening products use harsh chemicals and laundry lists of hard-to-pronounce ingredients. Lumineux takes a different approach. As their motto states: “You shouldn’t have to choose between a product that is good for you and a product that actually works.”
Lumineux Ultra-Bright Whitening Pen is enamel-safe, dentist-formulated, and made of all-natural ingredients. Unlike other pens, it is so safe and gentle that you can actually use it every day. Just be ready to pay a premium; Lumineux costs $50 for a two-pen pack.
- It offers effective, peroxide-free whitening.
- The formula promotes gum health.
- It can be used daily to prevent stains from forming.
- The gel doesn’t stick to the teeth very well.
- It isn’t able to achieve the same level of whitening as peroxide-based formulas.
#5 Most Well-Known: Colgate Optic White
Whitening pens are typically less effective than other teeth whitening products because the gel quickly washes away. The Colgate Optic White Overnight Pen corrects this by hardening into a varnish-like film that stays on the teeth all night long.
On top of that, it’s one of the easiest pens to find. Just head to your local pharmacy or superstore to buy it.
Colgate Optic White Advantages
- The gel stays in place until you brush your teeth.
- Application is simple.
- The pen is backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Colgate Optic White Disadvantages
- The peroxide concentration is low, just 3%.
- Some customers found their gel was dried out when they opened the product.
What About Professional Whitening Treatments?
Teeth whitening isn’t new. People have been using DIY methods for thousands of years, and in-office treatments launched decades ago. But over-the-counter treatments didn’t hit the market until 2001, with the release of the Crest Whitestrip.
Professional treatments and at-home whitening pens can brighten your smile. But there are some key differences to keep in mind.
- Power: Professional whitening treatments use a higher concentration of peroxide, delivering more whitening strength.
- Speed: Whitening pens take weeks to achieve their maximum results, but a professional treatment can deliver an eight-shade difference in an hour.
- Price: In-office treatments cost $600 or more per session, while whitening pens come in at under $2 per application.
- Custom Approaches: Dentists can tailor the treatment strength, frequency, and results to your needs, but over-the-counter products are one-size-fits-all.
- Convenience: With professional whitening, you have to work your schedule around an office visit. But you can complete at-home treatments whenever it works for you.
Which is better? It depends on the person. It all comes down to what meets your needs.
How to Evaluate Whitening Pens
What makes a whitening pen better than its competition? There are so many variables to consider, and the weight you give to each one depends on your unique needs. When we evaluated the whitening pens on our list, we looked at five variables with the most universal need: effectiveness, affordability, quality of ingredients, convenience, and comfort.
This is an essential feature in any whitening product. We didn’t get the chance to use all the pens on our list, but we pored over customer reviews and testimonials to ensure all these pens can deliver results.
Everyone’s budget is different, but ultimately, we all have one. So, affordability always matters. Whitening pens should never break the bank, but some represent a more solid value than others.
Quality of Ingredients
Knowing a product can get the job done is essential. But you also need to know how they whiten your teeth. In addition to the active ingredient — usually peroxide — you need to know if the inactive ingredients are safe and help enhance the experience.
Most whitening pens are very easy to use. However, there can be small differences that make a big difference for you. Before you buy, be certain that the entire process will work with your daily schedule.
In general, whitening pens are comfortable to use, but certain factors can make them more or less comfortable, such as taste, texture, and sensitivity.
When Is Using Whitening Pens Not a Good Choice?
Whitening your teeth can be a major confidence boost. But not everyone should use whitening pens. Check with your dentist before using any whitening product, and consider avoiding whitening pens, and possibly whitening products in general, if:
- You want to see a major change in your smile.
- You are allergic to any ingredients in a given product.
- You have active tooth decay or gum disease.
- There are cracks or chips in your teeth.
- You currently have a fixed appliance.
- You have cosmetic or restorative dentistry.
- You have stains that cannot be changed with a whitening product.
- You are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Additionally, if you take any medications, check if there are any potential interactions with whitening products.
Combining Whitening With Other Treatments
Sometimes, a brighter smile is all you need to feel your best. In other cases, you want a complete smile transformation. The good news is that it’s possible to combine whitening with other cosmetic dental treatments.
However, it depends on the changes you want to make. Never double up on whitening treatments unless they come in a kit designed for it — for example, a kit with overnight whitening strips and a pen to use before meals. You can combine whitening with things like dental veneers, caps, and crowns, but get clearance from your doctor first. Some whitening formulas will damage them.
The best treatment to combine with whitening is clear aligner therapy. Most whitening products won’t damage aligners, and you can even use the aligners to help keep the gel on your teeth. Many at-home whitening companies, like Byte, even offer whitening with your treatment bundle.
Whitening pens are a great way to boost your smile without investing a lot of time or money. They’re also very versatile; you can whiten your smile or just maintain your current color. We are confident that one of these five options will work well for you. Choose any one of them and you’ll be smiling bright in no time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it safe to whiten your teeth with whitening pens?
Yes, whitening pens are considered safe to use. Just be careful to purchase legitimate products, since some whitening kits sold online are counterfeit. These counterfeiters often attempt to imitate MOON because of its Jenner connection.
Do LED lights make a difference?
Yes, they enhance the effects of the active ingredients in teeth whitening products. So, if you want to use a whitening pen and an LED light, purchase SNOW.
Is it safe to use a whitening toothpaste and a whitening pen at the same time?
We suggest you ask your dentist. Whitening toothpastes are pretty gentle and wash away quickly, so they aren’t likely to cause a problem. However, one that prevents sensitivity might be better.
How do teeth whitening pens work?
Usually, they open the pores of the teeth, then peroxide mixes with the oxygen in the air and carbon in your teeth to break apart and extract stain molecules.
Is it important to get a professional cleaning before using a whitening pen?
It depends on if you are using the pen to whiten your teeth or maintain their current color. We suggest you get a professional cleaning before whitening your teeth, but if you are maintaining the color, it isn’t feasible to get cleanings that frequently.
How long should I expect my teeth to stay white?
There is no universal answer. First, some products just deliver more lasting change. Second, your genetics and habits will impact how long your teeth stay white.
Can I make my results last longer?
Yes, we suggest you try the following:
- Use a straw when drinking pigmented beverages.
- Eat fewer staining foods.
- Rinse your mouth with water after meals.
- Brush twice per day, and floss once per day.
- Use a whitening toothpaste.
- Don’t smoke.
If I experience sensitivity, will it be permanent?
No. It should go away within a few days of finishing treatment. Just know that any sensitivity you had before whitening your teeth will still be there when you finish.
Is it safe to whiten my teeth while straightening them?
If you are using clear aligners, yes. But if you have a fixed appliance, the answer varies. Talk to your doctor about your options to determine if whitening is a viable option for you.