The Best Teeth Whitening Products for Pearly Whites, According to Our Testing
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SmileDirectClub's Teeth Whitening Kit is the winner
White sparkling teeth are universally flattering — there's really no denying this. So what's the best way to get a bright, sparkly smile? You could always schedule a professional treatment with your dentist, but today's at-home options work surprisingly well, and they come at a fraction of the cost.
"Peroxide-based whitening gels of any concentration, including those over-the-counter and in the dental office, have the same method of action," says cosmetic dentist and teeth whitening technology researcher Dr. Aodhan Docherty. "They dissolve into the enamel (without damage) and break down the tough stains built up inside."
From classic strips and convenient pens to fast-acting kits and high-tech LED trays, there are tons of teeth whiteners on the market. We tested over 20 to find options that are not only effective but also user-friendly and gentle, even on sensitive teeth.
Ahead, the best teeth whitening products that PEOPLE tested.
SmileDirectClub Bright On Premium Teeth Whitening Kit
Effectively whitened teeth a full 10 shades lighter after one week
Includes tray with LED light
Only five-minute sessions required
Does recommend two sessions per day, which may be inconvenient for busy folks
The LED tray isn't cordless
SmileDirectClub's Bright On Kit comes with a light-activated LED tray and eight pens filled with hydrogen peroxide gel. After applying the gel directly to your teeth, you plug the tray into your phone (or another USB port) and place it in your mouth. It would be nice if the tray was cordless or at least had a longer cord, but we appreciated the soft, slightly flexible design and user-friendly process.
The peroxide didn't make our gums burn or even tingle and we were pleasantly surprised by how comfortable it felt on her sensitive teeth. Unlike many whitening gels, there's no unpleasant aftertaste either. This kit calls for twice-a-day use, but each session is only five minutes — and you could probably do them back to back on a tight schedule.
We saw a noticeable improvement within a couple of days, and after a week of consistent use, we were thrilled to report our teeth were a full 10 shades lighter. This isn't the most affordable option on the market, but all things considered, we think the price is more than fair. And when you run out of gel, you can just buy more pens instead of getting another kit.
Price at time of publish: $66.98
Type: Pen with LED light | Active Ingredient: Hydrogen peroxide | Duration Per Use: 5 minutes
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Crest 3D Whitestrips Sensitive Teeth Whitening Kit
Best Whitening Strips
Pain-free strips designed for sensitive teeth and gums
Easy to stash strips in a bag for on-the-go use
Takes a few days to see noticeable results
After its 2001 launch, Crest Whitestrips was a tipping point for at-home whitening. The original product is still a mainstay, but there are now several enhanced versions worth considering. 3DWhitestrips Sensitive was our favorite of the three we tried. The effective yet gentle hydrogen peroxide strips whiten your teeth over the course of two weeks, a process that was literally painless on sensitive teeth and reactive gums.
We liked the straightforward process and appreciated how the individually wrapped strips can be stashed in your bag for on-the-go use. Since this kit lives up to its claims as a pain-free teeth whitening solution, we think the price is worth it. Overall, this product does the trick and provides a nice bright refresh to your smile.
Price at time of publish: $38.96
Type: Strips | Active Ingredient: Hydrogen peroxide | Duration Per Use: 30 minutes
Opalescence Go Tooth Whitening Prefilled Trays
Best Whitening Trays
Delivered at least a full shade lighter with every use
Trays are pre-filled with whitening gel, making it easy to pop in and use
Long duration isn't the most comfortable
Price is relatively steep
Opalescence Go comes with 10 single-use trays pre-filled with hydrogen peroxide gel, which you're supposed to wear for 30 to 60 minutes each. Unfortunately, they're not very comfortable and might make your mouth overproduce saliva. We were only able to keep them in for about 8 minutes the first time but extended the sessions as our teeth became acclimated.
While we wouldn't recommend this kit for beginners or folks with sensitive teeth, the trays definitely produce noticeable results. After each use, our teeth lightened a full shade. And if you can wear the trays for the full recommended time, the effects will likely be even more dramatic.
Price at time of publish: $84
Type: Trays | Active Ingredient: Hydrogen peroxide | Duration Per Use: 30–60 minutes
iSmile LED Light Activated Teeth Whitening Kit
Best LED Light
Accelerator light speeds up the whitening process
Only 10 minutes per day required
Effectively got teeth four shades whiter in two weeks
Slight gum discomfort was experienced during testing
"Blue light LED teeth whitening is used by many dentists for professional treatments," says Dr. Docherty. And this user-friendly kit from iSmile was a hit during testing. We liked the convenience of applying the gel directly to the silicone mouth tray, which connects to the LED accelerator light. While we experienced mild gum discomfort, wearing it for the recommended 10 minutes was no problem.
More to the point, it was extremely effective. Our teeth were four shades whiter after two weeks. If your teeth tolerate it well and you have some spare time, you can opt for two daily sessions to speed up the effects. Considering the professional-level results, this is a great value for at-home whitening.
Price at time of publish: $44.95
Type: Tray with LED light | Active Ingredient: Carbamide peroxide | Duration Per Use: 10 minutes
AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Pen
Best Whitening Pen
This pocket-sized pen is super easy to use, gently lightening your teeth over time without causing sensitivity.
It might make your mouth water, and the results aren't dramatic.
Whitening pens are super convenient, especially for on-the-go use. We like this one from Auraflow, which leans on a high concentration of carbamide peroxide to lighten your teeth without causing sensitivity. Just click the bottom until the gel appears at the tip, brush it on, let it dry for a minute, and go about your day. It did tingle for a second, but overall, it was comfortable.
However, your mouth may start to water waiting for the gel to dry. Since you're not supposed to swallow, we made sure there was a nearby sink to spit into. Also, the instructions say not to eat or drink anything for an hour after applying the gel. The results won't be as dramatic as other kits (our teeth were one shade lighter after two weeks), but with consistent use, you'll see a noticeable difference.
Price at time of publish: $24
Type: Pen | Active Ingredient: Carbamide peroxide | Duration Per Use: 1 minute
Hismile VIO405 Teeth Whitening Kit
Best for Fast Results
Saw a noticeable difference after just two uses
10-minute process is easy and convenient
Anti-sensitivity primer helps protect the teeth from the intense LED treatment
Removing the tray gets slightly messy
Odd taste compared to other whitening products we tested
If you don't have the time (or patience) for gradual results, the HiSmile VIO405 Kit has you covered. Promising results in as little as one use, the secret is a special anti-sensitivity primer that preps the teeth for the intense LED-accelerated treatment to follow. While the gel has an odd taste, we didn't experience any pain or burning sensation during testing.
Since you're supposed to use an entire tube of gel for each 10-minute session, removing the tray is a bit messy. Still, we found the quick process is easy and convenient. Our teeth were notably stained to begin with, and we saw a noticeable difference after just two uses. The price is steep for an at-home kit, but the results are no joke.
Price at time of publish: $119.20
Type: Tray with LED light | Active Ingredient: Phthalimidoperoxycaproic acid | Duration Per Use: 10 minutes
Spotlight Oral Care Teeth Whitening Strips
Best for Sensitive Teeth
Gentle strips gradually whiten your teeth
Included gum oil helps prevent irritation
Strips are comfortable to wear
Must use for 1-hour long sessions each day for best results
These whitening strips are very comfortable to wear. Like a vacuum-sealed effect, the hydrogen peroxide backing adheres to the teeth and prevents them from slipping around. The 14-day system promises to gradually lighten sensitive teeth without irritation, and it comes with a tube of vitamin E oil to soothe your gums after each use.
We didn't feel any tingling or pain during testing, but if you have particularly sensitive teeth, you may want to apply the strips every other day. Since you're supposed to wear them for a full 60 minutes, this kit is a bit of a time commitment. However, you can count on noticeable results — our teeth were five shades whiter after two weeks.
Type: Strips | Active Ingredient: Hydrogen peroxide | Duration Per Use: 60 minutes
Auraglow Complete LED Whitening Kit
Best for Advanced Users
Highly concentrated strips of carbamide peroxide
Gel has a nice minty flavor
No pain or sensitivity was experienced
Large silicone tray may cause some discomfort for smaller mouths
If your teeth can handle more intense treatments, Auraglow's Complete LED Whitening Kit might be your best bet. It comes with 20 highly concentrated carbamide peroxide treatments and a rechargeable LED accelerator that promises results ten times faster than most other at-home systems.
We liked the minty taste of the gel, and while the tray is made of soft silicone, it was too large for smaller mouths, so our lips had to stretch around it. Wearing the tray for a half-hour wasn't very comfortable, but the pro-level results were worth it in the end, and we appreciated the pleasant minty flavor of the gel. In the end, our teeth were several shades lighter after two weeks, and we didn't experience any pain or sensitivity.
Price at time of publish: $59.99
Type: Tray with LED light | Active Ingredient: Carbamide peroxide | Duration Per Use: 30 minutes
Things to Consider When Buying Teeth Whitening Products
There are a few types of at-home teeth whiteners. On the more basic end are single-use strips (like Spotlight Oral Care's Teeth Whitening Strips), which you leave on for 30 to 60 minutes, and whitening pens filled with brush-on gel. There are also higher-tech options with reusable plastic or silicone trays and blue LED accelerator lights. This type of kit typically offers faster results with shorter sessions.
Most teeth whiteners call on hydrogen peroxide, which has a clinically proven bleaching effect. According to Dr. Docherty, this is the same active ingredient used by dentists for in-office whitening treatments. But since hydrogen peroxide can cause sensitivity, some gels include gentler alternatives like carbamide peroxide or PAP (phthalimidoperoxycaproic acid). However, the Crest 3DWhiteStrips Sensitive uses hydrogen peroxide in a smaller concentration and is a great choice for sensitive teeth and/or gums.
Aside from cost savings, one of the main draws of at-home teeth whiteners is convenience. Some systems offer noticeable results in sessions as short as five or 10 minutes (such as the SmileDirectClub LED Teeth Whitening Kit), while others require you to wear strips or a tray for 30 to 60 minutes. Additionally, you may need to avoid eating or drinking shortly after each use. Look for a kit that fits your schedule and lifestyle.
How We Tested
Before getting started, we compared our teeth to a dental color chart and recorded the shade. After unboxing the kits, we read through the directions and followed the brand's step-by-step guidelines. Unless we experienced pain or severe discomfort, we left the strips, gel, or trays on for the recommended time.
We noted the feel of their teeth and gums during and after each session. Upon completing the systems, we then compared the new shade of their teeth to the initial color. Each kit was scored for comfort, effectiveness, convenience, and overall value, and those with the highest average ratings earned a spot on this PEOPLE Tested list of the best teeth whitening products.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do teeth whitening products work?
According to Dr. Docherty, peroxide whitening gels dissolve into your tooth enamel and break up the stains without causing damage. "Those stains then exit the enamel, and the tooth appears lighter," he explains.
How do blue LED lights work for teeth whitening?
When combined with peroxide gel, Dr. Docherty says blue LED accelerator lights "provide consumers with noticeable whitening results that are affordable and easy to use." In other words, they help speed up the process of at-home teeth whitening. You can expect your teeth to lighten with fewer and often shorter sessions.
Can you whiten sensitive teeth?
Dr. Docherty says you can. If your teeth are extra-sensitive, he recommends using desensitizing toothpaste for two weeks before starting, as well as throughout the whitening process.
"Remembering less is more when it comes to the amount of whitening gel used," Dr. Docherty adds, noting that you can do every-other-day sessions to minimize irritation. Lastly, he says to avoid applying gel or whitening strips on receding gums or exposed roots.
How long does it take to see results when whitening your teeth at home?
It depends. Some LED-accelerated teeth whitening systems offer results in as little as one or two sessions. But with gentler formulas, it may take a week or two of consistent use before you notice a change.
What Is PEOPLE Tested?
We created the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval to help you find the very best products for your life. We use our unique methodology to test products in three labs across the country and with our network of home testers to determine their effectiveness, durability, ease of use, and so much more. Based on the results, we rate and recommend products so you can find the right one for your needs.
But we don't stop there: We also regularly re-review the categories in which we've awarded the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval — because the best product of today might not be the best of tomorrow. And by the way, companies can never buy our recommendation: Their products must earn it, fair and square.
In short, PEOPLE Tested provides recommendations you can trust — every day, every purchase.
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