February 24, 2024

Chats du Monde

World of Health & Pet

The 11 Best Teeth Whiteners of 2023 to Tackle Stains

16 min read

Teeth whiteners are an easy, convenient way to brighten your teeth a few shades, but they can also work under the enamel to remove built-up staining. Bianca Velayo, DMD, of Green Valley Smiles Dentistry in Henderson, Nevada, explains that, if you’re looking for long-lasting results, the ingredient list and product type should be your top considerations.

Dr. Velayo recommends looking for peroxide-based products if you’re hoping to whiten tooth enamel. You can opt for either carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide as both will reverse internal and external stains on teeth, she notes. But Dr. Velayo adds that while a peroxide-based treatment is your best bet for a long-lasting treatment, how well the product works will come down to the concentration of the peroxide, how long you use it, and how it’s applied.

To find the best teeth whiteners, we tested 21 products in our lab and are continually testing at home. We’ve narrowed down our list of top products by following expert guidance and ranking each option based on criteria such as convenience, comfort, effectiveness, and overall value. Here are the best teeth whiteners, according to our test.

Best Overall

SmileDirectClub Bright On Premium Teeth Whitening Kit


Amazon


Our Ratings

  • Comfort

    5/5

  • Effectiveness

    5/5

  • Convenience

    4.7/5

  • Value

    5/5

After testing 21 different teeth whiteners, SmileDirectClub’s whitening kit was an easy pick as our best overall—our teeth visibly whitened in just a week without causing or exacerbating any sensitivity. Anyone who has had their teeth professionally whitened or has used gel-based whitening in the past typically anticipates a certain degree of discomfort in the whitening process, but we didn’t experience that with SmileDirectClub’s Teeth Whitening Kit. If you’ve ever associated effectiveness with pain, you’ll be really glad it doesn’t have to necessarily be the case.

The kit uses an LED light device in combination with whitening gel to deliver its results, neither of which feels uncomfortable. It’s easy to apply to your teeth and doesn’t burn or tingle.

Be aware that this product should be applied twice daily, which could be inconvenient if you’re looking for a lower-maintenance product, twice daily treatments could be inconvenient.

Price at time of publication: $67

Product Details:

  • Type: LED light
  • Recommended frequency of use: Twice a day for 1 week
  • Recommended duration of use: 5 minutes
  • Active ingredients: 9% hydrogen peroxide

Health.com / Jessica Juliao


Best Overall Runner-Up

Spotlight Oral Care Teeth Whitening Strips

Spotlight Oral Care Dental Teeth Whitening Strips

Amazon


Our Ratings

  • Comfort

    5/5

  • Effectiveness

    4.8/5

  • Convenience

    3.9/5

  • Value

    5/5

After testing the Spotlight Oral Care Dental Teeth Whitening Strips, we chose it as our best overall runner-up teeth whitener. While whitening strips are one of the most convenient whitening methods thanks to their easy application, most of us are familiar with the slippery application that strips tend to have. Spotlight Oral Care’s whitening strips offer a way around that for easier, more effective application. The product adheres to both the front and back of our teeth effectively—it has a vacuum-sealed effect. We also love how comfortable it is to wear these whitening strips. 

We see a noticeable difference of five shades at the end of testing, without tingling or sensitivity. The only thing we find inconvenient is the duration of treatment—strips must be worn for an hour each time. We still give these strips a thumbs up though for the product’s affordable price point for its results. The only real caveat would be that it’s a bit of an investment in terms of time. But if you have that downtime in your day, we believe it’s worth it.

Product Details:

  • Type: Strips
  • Recommended frequency of use: 14 days
  • Recommended duration of use: 1 hour
  • Active ingredients: 0.01% hydrogen peroxide

Health / Jessica Juliao


Best LED

Auraglow Complete LED Whitening Kit

AURAGLOW Deluxe Teeth Whitening Kit

Amazon


Our Ratings

  • Comfort

    4.5/5

  • Effectiveness

    5/5

  • Convenience

    3/5

  • Value

    5/5

Auraglow’s Deluxe Teeth Whitening Kit uses a handheld LED device to whiten teeth in 30-minute sessions over the course of one week. The device claims to whiten up to 10 shades in that amount of time, which we found to be true.

But, while we found our teeth were noticeably whiter after testing, the device itself did leave us wanting more. The tray is quite large, especially for smaller mouths. And this product needs to be recharged at least once a week with regular use yet doesn’t give a low-battery warning. 

However, in our opinion, the slight discomfort from the large tray and the inconvenience of the battery aren’t enough to take away from the satisfaction we got from the results. And given how much we know professional whitening costs, and remembering the pain and sensitivity we’ve had with professional trays at the dentist’s in the past, we would absolutely say this is worth the price and the inconvenience for a couple of weeks.

Price at time of publication: $100

Product Details:

  • Type: Gel
  • Recommended frequency of use: Daily for 1 week
  • Recommended duration of use: 30 minutes
  • Active ingredients: 35% carbamide peroxide

Health / Jessica Juliao


Best Pen

AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Pen

AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Pen

Amazon


Our Ratings

  • Comfort

    4.5/5

  • Effectiveness

    3/5

  • Convenience

    5/5

  • Value

    3.5/5

Sometimes we don’t have the time or resources to work with a whitening kit, which is why we wanted to find a great whitening pen that delivers brighter (and easier) results. The Auraglow Teeth Whitening Pen is our pick for the best teeth whitening pen from testing, and it includes more than 20 treatments with an easy-to-use brush applicator.

We find that the pen doesn’t offer as extreme results as other products on our list, but ultimately it works well as an on-the-go device. We think this product is straightforward and easy to use. It’s hard to beat a teeth whitener that’s easy to bring with you anywhere and doesn’t require much time (literally 60 seconds).

Price at time of publication: $37

Product Details:

  • Type: Pen
  • Recommended frequency of use: 7 days or whenever needed
  • Recommended duration of use: 1 minute
  • Active ingredients: 35% carbamide peroxide

Health / Jessica Juliao


Best Trays

Opalescence Go Tooth Whitening Prefilled Trays

Opalescence Go - Prefilled Teeth Whitening Trays

Amazon


Our Ratings

  • Comfort

    2/5

  • Effectiveness

    5/5

  • Convenience

    4/5

  • Value

    5/5

Opalascence Go Prefilled Trays wins our pick for best teeth whitening trays. A whitening tray can offer a happy medium between white strips and an LED device, typically with a more comfortable and sometimes more effective output. The Opalescence Go Prefilled Trays use a 15% hydrogen peroxide treatment, which is higher than some of the other options on our list, meaning you’ll get faster results.

We noticed almost immediate results after one use, although the higher dose causes some discomfort and sensitivity. We tried the higher formulation, but Opalescence also makes its trays in a 10% hydrogen peroxide formulation.

Opalescence is also a favorite brand of dentists, particularly Dr. Velayo. “More clinical studies, articles, and reviews have been published on Opalescence whitening than any other professional whitening brand. It’s part of the reason why it’s so highly trusted,” she says.

Price at time of publication: $80

Product Details:

  • Type: Gel trays
  • Recommended frequency of use: 5–10 days
  • Recommended duration of use: 15-20 minutes
  • Active ingredients: 15% hydrogen peroxide; also available in 10%

Health / Jessica Juliao


Best for Sensitive Teeth

Crest 3D Whitestrips Sensitive Teeth Whitening Kit

Crest 3D Whitestrips Sensitive Teeth Whitening Kit

Amazon


Our Ratings

  • Comfort

    5/5

  • Effectiveness

    4.5/5

  • Convenience

    5/5

  • Value

    4/5

Tooth sensitivity is one of the biggest concerns for people looking to get whiter teeth. “Whitening […] temporarily dehydrates the tooth, which makes teeth more sensitive following a high concentration whitening treatment,” explains Lucy Hovanisyan, DDS, of ProHealth Dental. “Whitening can also induce tooth sensitivity, as peroxide can pass through the enamel to the dentin layer of the tooth and irritate the pulp (nerve) of the tooth.”

While tooth sensitivity is often just a fact of whitening treatments, some products are designed for sensitive teeth—like the Crest 3D Whitestrips. The difference is a lower peroxide level; the sensitive strips contain 5.25% hydrogen peroxide compared to Crest’s standard 6.5%.

Our editor who tested these strips was surprised by how gentle this product was as her teeth and gums are very sensitive. However, she found the testing process painless. She also noticed a difference in the color of her teeth right away while using the strips. It’s worth noting, though, that results may not be as drastic as other, stronger products offer.

Price at time of publication: $40

Product Details:

  • Type: Strips
  • Recommended frequency of use: Once daily for 14 days
  • Recommended duration of use: 30 minutes
  • Active ingredients: 5.25% hydrogen peroxide

Health / Jessica Juliao


Best Strips

Lumineux Teeth Whitening Strips 7 Treatments

Best Teeth Whiteners to Tackle Stains
Amazon

While using peroxide to bleach your teeth isn’t harmful, it should be limited because it can soften your enamel over time. says Dr. Hovanisyan. If you’re worried about peroxide use, Lumineux’s line of whitening products is peroxide-free, using essential oils instead of more standard chemicals to whiten teeth. Its ingredient list includes lemon peel oil, coconut oil, sage oil, and Dead Sea salt. 

If you’re wondering how well all-natural whitening solutions stand up to chemical whitening, the answer might be surprising. A study of chemical teeth whitening and all-natural teeth whitening products found that while chemical whitening provided more drastic results, all-natural products weren’t far behind—plus they left teeth with fewer surface issues after use.

We found that these strips were effective after two to three uses. We also found that the strips were easy to apply and stayed on our teeth even while talking, though they only cover the front 6-8 teeth on each row. We also appreciated that the strips don’t have a bitter or chemical taste, which is sometimes the case with teeth whitening strips; instead, they have a refreshing flavor thanks to their all-natural ingredients list.

Price at time of publication: $23

Product Details:

  • Type: Strips
  • Recommended frequency of use: 7 days, then 1–2 times per week for maintenance
  • Recommended duration of use: 30 minutes
  • Active ingredients: Coconut oil

Health / Jessica Juliao


Best Gel

iSmile LED Light Activated Teeth Whitening Kit

Teeth Whitening Kit

Amazon


Our Ratings

  • Comfort

    4/5

  • Effectiveness

    5/5

  • Convenience

    4/5

  • Value

    5/5

Like some of the other products on our list, the iSmile Teeth Whitening Kit uses gel in combination with an LED device, but this device has a clean and easy application, which is rarely guaranteed with gel products. That’s why it’s our tested pick for best teeth whitening gel. It’s convenient how you can apply the solution onto the mechanism before putting it in your mouth. This allows it to be less messy and for the solution to be evenly applied when you bite down.

It’s also fairly quick and effective, only requiring 10-minute treatments over the course of a week, which brought us up five shades in lightness. We think it may have been more effective than previous whitening treatments we’ve done in the past at the dentist’s office.

The only drawback is the slight discomfort. No teeth whitening product that has to sit in your mouth for an extended period of time will ever be extremely comfortable. But, given it only requires 10 minutes of application time, we never felt like it was a tedious process at all.

Price at time of publication: $50

Product Details:

  • Type: LED device
  • Recommended frequency of use: Once daily for 7 days
  • Recommended duration of use: 10 minutes
  • Active ingredients: 35% carbamide peroxide

Related: The Best Electric Toothbrushes

Health / Jessica Juliao


Best Budget LED

Cali White Teeth Whitening Kit with LED Light

Amazon Cali White Teeth Whitening Kit with LED Light

Amazon


Our Ratings

  • Ease of Use

    5/5

  • Comfort

    4.7/5

  • Effectiveness

    4/5

  • Convenience

    4.5/5

  • Value

    4.9/5

The Cali White Teeth Whitening Kit is an extremely simple, quick and simple teeth whitening kit. The LED process is a 10-minute three-step process, and then you’re done and ready to take on the world with a lighter and brighter smile. The sessions are quicker than LED options (10 minutes versus 30) and this is a more affordable option as well, which gives this product a lot of value. 

The device is easy-to-use. The process required us to squeeze out the gel onto the tray, put the tray into our mouths, and turn on the LED light. That’s it! At the end of the lightning session, the LED light automatically turned off, which is good if you lose track of time or forget to use a timer. 

The tray is a little big, so we had a little bit of trouble trying to breathe through our nose during use. By the end of initially testing this product, our teeth were one to two shades lighter. We didn’t experience any discomfort beyond the mint-tasting paste causing our gums to tingle throughout use. However, though it comes with a travel case for the guard, we do wish it included a travel case for the LED light too. Plus, the travel case is a little flimsy.

Price at time of publication: $29

Product Details:

  • Type: LED device
  • Recommended frequency of use: Once daily for 7-10 days
  • Recommended duration of use: 10-30 minutes
  • Active ingredients: 35% carbon peroxide

Most Convenient

Colgate ComfortFit LED Teeth Whitening Kit

Amazon Colgate ComfortFit LED Teeth Whitening Kit

Amazon


Our Ratings

  • Ease of Use

    5/5

  • Comfort

    5/5

  • Effectiveness

    3.8/5

  • Convenience

    5/5

  • Value

    5/5

This LED teeth whitening kit is powered by a cell phone outlet. To use it, we plugged it in, put our phone in our pocket, and finally the tray in our mouth. Once it was on, we were free to go about our business doing other things. This feature makes it great for nighttime use, especially during your nighttime skin routine.

We love that there’s an auto timer where the LED light turns off after 10 minutes so you can turn your brain off while using this teeth whitening kit. What’s more, we didn’t experience any irritation while using the formula and it comes with both top and bottom trays. All of these were winning features in our eyes, making it well worth the price point.

To top it off, this kit is good for traveling due to how mobile it is with the power source. The results exceeded our expectations, bringing us up a few shades without any hassle.

Price at time of publication: $65

Product Details:

  • Type: LED device
  • Recommended frequency of use: Once a day for 3 months (but results are noticeable after 3 days)
  • Recommended duration of use: 10 minutes
  • Active ingredients:  Hydrogen peroxide

Best for Stains

PurelyWHITE DELUXE Teeth Whitening Kit

Target PurelyWHITE DELUXE Teeth Whitening Kit

Target


The PurelyWHITE DELUXE Teeth Whitening kit is our pick for best teeth whitening kit for stains. It’s an LED-powered device that’s great at targeting 10 years’ worth of stains and spots on the teeth with minimal sensitivity.

There’s no app with this teeth whitening kit, and the process is simple and reminiscent of many other whitening kits on the market. We immediately saw a difference in certain spots of our teeth after using the kit, however, the whiteness did seem to fade over time.

While this device doesn’t need to charge, we did experience some issues with the batteries. Turning it on and off can be a struggle, and in order for it to operate properly at times we had to completely remove the batteries. The timer stopped working after our fifth use, so if you need a teeth whitening kit with a timer this may not be the best option for you.

Price at time of publication: $50

Product Details:

  • Type: LED whitening device
  • Recommended frequency of use: Once per day
  • Recommended duration of use: Up to 15 applications
  • Active ingredients: Peroxide

Our Testing Process

To find the best teeth whiteners, we tested whitening devices in our lab and at home. 21 staffers used a variety of whitening products, including LED devices, white strips, toothpastes, and pens for effectiveness, comfort, convenience, and value.

Before testing, we determined their tooth shade and compared their shades two and four weeks later. In our lab test, we used products once according to manufacturer instructions and then took the products home and continued to follow the instructions on the package.

We also spoke to experts to discuss what to look for in teeth whiteners including:

  • Bianca Velayo, DMD, of Green Valley Smiles Dentistry in Henderson, Nevada
  • Lucy Hovanisyan, DDS, of ProHealth Dental in Hoboken, New Jersey
  • Professor at UCLA School of Dentistry, Edmond R. Hewlett, DDS in Los Angeles, California
  • Cosmetic dentist Daniel Rubinshtein, DDS in New York City
  • Cindy Roark, DMD, MS, Senior Vice President & Chief Clinical Officer at Sage Dental based in Boca Raton, Florida

Health / Jhett Thompson


What to Know About Teeth Whiteners

Key Ingredients to Look for in Teeth Whitening Kits

The most common ingredient in teeth whitening kits is peroxide, either hydrogen or carbamide. These ingredients work to remove stains both on the surface of teeth and on deeper layers. In addition to these ingredients, you’ll also want to look for a few others that can help to ease the after-effects of whitening, which can be painful for sensitive teeth.

Dr. Velayo recommends also looking for potassium nitrate, fluoride, and/or xylitol because they can minimize sensitivity.

It’s worth noting that an ingredient making its way into whitening kits lately is PAP (or phthalimido-peroxy-caproic acid), which should be avoided. According to Edmond R. Hewlett, DDS, Professor at UCLA School of Dentistry, unlike hydrogen peroxide, PAP may lead to lingering sensitivity.

Types of Teeth Whitening Kits

Gel

Whitening gel comes into play in almost all whitening kits, typically acting as the activator in LED kits and whitening pens, as well as on their own, applied directly to teeth or in trays. Whitening gels are normally made with either hydrogen or carbamide peroxide.

LED

LED-powered devices are another popular choice. They work by using the peroxide gel as a base and activating the gel. The LED works to speed up the gel’s effects, accelerating the process and enhancing results through an oxidation process.

LED devices also have their own set of negative side effects (such as causing tissue damage), so dentists warn that you should use caution if adding one to your dental routine.

Pens

Whitening pens contain a peroxide gel, which is typically applied with a brush head. The peroxide available in pens is often lower than in a gel kit and their lower duration makes them less effective than at-home treatments, but their effectiveness is sacrificed for their ease of use on the go.

Toothpastes

Whitening toothpastes also contain peroxide, but at a much lower concentration than most whitening products. Dr. Velayo explains that whitening toothpastes usually only offer a concentration of 1% hydrogen peroxide and sit on the teeth for much shorter lengths of time than other whitening methods. While you may see slight results from toothpastes, they likely won’t last.

She adds that if you want a longer-lasting whitening effect from your toothpaste, check its relative dentin abrasion (RDA), which you can find on the manufacturer’s website; the higher the RDA, the more effective the toothpaste is for whitening.

Health / Jhett Thompson


How Much to Expect to Pay for a Teeth Whitening Kit

Teeth whitening kits are available at a variety of price points, with some coming in at under $30 and others over $150; most of our picks are less than $100. You can generally expect price points to be an indicator of effectiveness, with many less expensive products offering shorter-term or less substantial results. More expensive products typically use an LED device and a higher concentration of peroxide to promote more extreme, longer-lasting results. Our least expensive pick is the Lumineux Teeth Whitening Strip Kit at $23, which we loved for its easy use and great taste but didn’t like as much for its limited coverage. Our most expensive pick is the Hismile PAP+ Teeth Whitening Kit at $149, which we loved for its quick, effective results.

More Teeth Whiteners to Consider

We also tested the following teeth whiteners. While our testers had a lot of great things to say about them, they ultimately fell short of the recommendations that made our list based on overall results and negative side effects.

  • Crest 3D White Whitestrips at Amazon: While our tester saw results of up to 6 shades whiter during use, they found that the strips made their teeth very sensitive with consistent use.

Health / Jhett Thompson


Your Questions, Answered

How do teeth whitening kits work?

“Teeth whitening products are meant to whiten the superficial layer of your enamel using some sort of acid solution,” says cosmetic dentist Daniel Rubinshtein, DDS.

Teeth whitening kits and products work by removing stains, either intrinsic or extrinsic—that is internal or external stains. You can think of external stains as the ones you might get from a coffee habit, while intrinsic stains are treated on a deeper, chemical level.

While some people might be looking to avoid peroxides in teeth whitening, Bianca Velayo, DMD, of Green Valley Smiles Dentistry in Henderson, Nevada, explains that peroxide is what ultimately makes the process effective. “[Peroxides] penetrate the enamel to reverse intrinsic and extrinsic stains,” Dr. Velayo explains. “Peroxide gels break down into water, oxygen, and reactive oxygen molecules. These reactive oxygen molecules treat both the enamel and the dentin, oxidizing the bonds of discolored stain molecules. By changing the stained molecules, the tooth becomes lighter.”

What types of teeth whitening kits do dentists recommend?

To see results, dentists recommend products that have a good combination of peroxide concentration and duration of use. Dr. Velayo points out that shorter-duration products, like toothpastes, don’t do much in terms of whitening, but they also include ingredients you might want to avoid.

Charcoal toothpastes and whitening products have been popular in recent years, but Cindy Roark, DMD, MS, Senior Vice President & Chief Clinical Officer at Sage Dental, specifically recommends against them. She warns that you might not get the results you think you will as charcoal works by using abrasion to remove the stain. As a result, the charcoal also wears away at the outer enamel of your teeth. “Enamel is clear, but the dentin under-layer is yellow. So it stands to reason that the more enamel you wear away, the yellower your teeth become,” she explains.

Are teeth whitening kits safe?

The dentists we spoke with agreed that teeth whitening kits are safe, but that people with certain conditions should avoid whitening, at least until after proper dental treatment. Dr. Rubinshtein suggests that anyone with thin enamel can expect to experience pain while whitening their teeth, and those with gum disease and cavities should resolve those issues before deciding to whiten their teeth.

People with past dental work should also speak with a dentist before whitening. “Individuals with restorations such as fillings, crowns, bridges, and implants should understand that these restorations won’t lighten, as only natural teeth can be whitened,” says Dr. Hovanisyan. “In such patients, whitening treatment could result in color differences between natural teeth and restorations.”

Who We Are

Jaylyn Pruitt has a Master of Library and Information Science with a focus on health information. Her goal is to provide easy-to-understand information with a patient perspective in mind.

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