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Best Teeth Whitening Kits, According to Dentists

Best Teeth Whitening Kits
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Our evaluations and opinions are not influenced by our advertising relationships, but we may earn a commission from our partners’ links. This content is created independently from TIME’s editorial staff. Learn more about it.

Updated May 13, 2024

Although all teeth are beautiful, there’s nothing like a pearly white smile when you’re meeting someone for the first time. That said, taking multiple trips to the dentist for teeth whitening sessions isn’t always doable or affordable—enter teeth whitening kits. Teeth whitening kits are often cheaper and require less effort while producing satisfactory results.

“People are always looking to improve their smile and look their best,” says Gary Liu, DMD, board-certified pediatric dentist at Kind Smiles in Irvine, California. “Teeth whitening kits are great options to whiten yellowing teeth from natural aging and stains from drinking coffee or tea.”

In addition to Dr. Liu, I tapped Lauren Becker, DDS, New York City-based general and cosmetic dentist, and Alice Hoang, DMD, FAGD, FICOI, a general dentist at Brooklyn Mint Dental to find the best teeth whitening kits on the market keeping ingredients, duration, frequency, and type in mind.

What to look for when buying teeth whitening kits

Ingredients

It’s important to know about the ingredients in teeth whitening kits to ensure you choose those that will do more good than harm when whitening your teeth. That said, Dr. Liu notes it often takes a combination of ingredients including hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide to bleach or oxidize the colored particles found on teeth and make them appear whiter. When shopping for teeth whitening kits, you’ll notice most contain hydrogen or carbamide peroxide as they are the stronger bleaching agents. However, it’s important to note that higher percentages of hydrogen peroxide (35%) and carbamide peroxide (22%), are more likely to cause teeth sensitivity, adds Dr. Liu. In addition to hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide, Dr. Becker and Dr. Liu add that potassium nitrate and fluoride are other common ingredients in many teeth whitening kits.

As far as ingredients to avoid when shopping for teeth whitening kits go, Dr. Liu advises avoiding phthalimido-peroxy-caproic acid (PAP) and instead opting for products containing PAP+. Furthermore, Dr. Becker notes charcoal is not an ingredient that should be applied to teeth for whitening purposes as it can erode enamel and weaken teeth. A best practice is to avoid products containing triethanolamine, sodium chloride, and urea peroxide, adds Dr. Hoang.

Type

Not all teeth whitening kits are created equal. Some of the most common teeth whitening kits are toothpaste, gels, trays, pens, or LED-based. I recommend reading through the list of pros and cons of each (provided below) to better understand each kind.

Duration and frequency

Duration and frequency are essential to consider when reviewing the best teeth whitening kits as different kits are accompanied by different instructions. Toothpaste-based whitening kits typically require less time with each use or session. However, they’re often advised to be used daily as a result. On the other hand, teeth whitening trays and LED-based kits are often recommended to be used for longer periods but need fewer treatments and produce longer-lasting results, as they tend to be stronger.

Our top picks for the best teeth whitening kits

Best affordable teeth whitening kit: Crest 3D White Brilliance 2-Step Kit

Best affordable teeth whitening kit
Crest 3D White Brilliance + Whitening Two-Step Toothpaste Mint 4.0 oz and 2.3 oz

Crest 3D White Brilliance + Whitening Two-Step Toothpaste Mint 4.0 oz and 2.3 oz

If you want to purchase a teeth whitening kit without breaking the bank, the Crest 3D White Brilliance 2-Step Kit is a solid option. When I first started using teeth whitening products, this was the first one I tried. I particularly liked this kit because it wasn’t time-consuming and I didn’t have to change up my normal brush routine to use it as I had already been brushing at least two times per day. All I had to do was add an extra toothpaste which didn’t require much effort. It is important to note that this toothpaste does not contain hydrogen peroxide.

Specifications:

  • Type: Toothpaste
  • Frequency of use: Twice a day (minimum)
  • Duration of use: Two minutes (one minute with step one, one minute with step two)
  • Active ingredients: Stannous fluoride 0.454% (0.15% w/v fluoride ion)
  • Price at publish: $14.99

The bottom line:

For less than $15, this two-step toothpaste-based whitening kit is a solid option for those seeking to whiten their teeth on a budget.

Get it here: Crest 3D White Brilliance 2-Step Kit


Best one-step teeth whitening kit: Crest Pro-Health Advanced Antibacterial Protection Toothpaste

Best one-step teeth whitening kit
Crest Pro-Health Advanced Antibacterial Protection Toothpaste

Crest Pro-Health Advanced Antibacterial Protection Toothpaste

If you’re looking for a teeth whitening kit that’s simple enough for most people can use, Dr. Becker recommends the Crest Pro-Health Advanced Antibacterial Protection Toothpaste. Although this is less of a teeth-whitening kit and more of an individual product, it still works to whiten teeth and prevent stains as it contains fluoride. Brush with it twice a day or as advised by a dental professional.

Specifications:

  • Type: Toothpaste
  • Frequency of use: Twice a day (or as instructed by a dentist)
  • Duration of use: At least one minute
  • Active ingredients: Stannous fluoride 0.454% (0.14% w/v fluoride ion)
  • Price at publish: $14.99

The bottom line:

This toothpaste made with fluoride can be used by most people looking to incorporate healthy daily habits into their hygiene routine to whiten their teeth.

Get it here: Crest Pro-Health Advanced Antibacterial Protection Toothpaste


Best teeth whitening kit for sensitive teeth: Colgate Optic White Toothpaste Advanced

Best teeth whitening kit for sensitive teeth
Colgate Optic White Advanced Hydrogen Peroxide Toothpaste Sparkling White 3.2 oz

Colgate Optic White Advanced Hydrogen Peroxide Toothpaste Sparkling White 3.2 oz

If a teeth whitening kit for sensitive teeth is what you’re looking for, consider the Colgate Optic Advanced White Toothpaste. Since it’s only made with 2% hydrogen peroxide, it’s suitable for sensitive teeth—especially since it’s intended to be used for six months. "It's one of the least abrasive on the market, making it gentler on tooth wear and less likely to exacerbate tooth recession and sensitivity,” says Dr. Hoang. This toothpaste also offers a peppermint flavor which your tastebuds will appreciate.

Specifications:

  • Type: Toothpaste
  • Frequency of use: Twice a day
  • Duration of use: Six weeks
  • Active ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide (2%) and sodium monofluorophosphate (0.76%) (0.12% w/v fluoride ion)
  • Price at publish: $4.99

The bottom line:

This is one of the best teeth whitening toothpastes for people with sensitive teeth, as it’s made with only 2% hydrogen peroxide and it features a peppermint flavor.

Get it here: Colgate Optic White Toothpaste Advanced


Best teeth whitening strips: Lumineux Teeth Whitening Strips

Best teeth whitening strips
Teeth Whitening Strips 7 Treatments - Enamel Safe - Whitening Without The Sensitivity - Dentist Formulated & Certified Non-Toxic

Teeth Whitening Strips 7 Treatments - Enamel Safe - Whitening Without The Sensitivity - Dentist Formulated & Certified Non-Toxic

If you’re looking for teeth whitening strips made with naturally derived ingredients, Dr. Hoang recommends Luminex Teeth Whitening Strips. With active ingredients including coconut, sage oil, lemon peel, and dead sea salt, you can rest assured that your teeth will be treated with healthy ingredients while enhancing their color. All it takes is using these strips for 30 minutes per day for four consecutive days and then one or two days each week after the initial round of treatment. Although I think you’ll enjoy using these whitening strips, Lumineux offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Specifications:

  • Type: Strips
  • Frequency of use: Once per day for four consecutive days (then, once or twice a week)
  • Duration of use: 30 minutes
  • Active ingredients: Coconut oil, sage oil, lemon peel, and dead sea salt
  • Price at publish: $36.08

The bottom line:

These whitening strips are suitable for those looking to enhance the color of their teeth with plant-based ingredients.

Get it here: Lumineux Teeth Whitening Strips


Best teeth whitening pen: Auraglow Teeth Whitening Pen

Best teeth whitening pen
Auraglow Teeth Whitening Pen

Auraglow Teeth Whitening Pen

As far as the best teeth-whitening pens go, the Auraglow Teeth Whitening Pen is a great pick for its simple, intuitive design and short treatments. Although this whitening pen is intended for daily use, it only takes one minute (or less). If any residual gel happens to be on your teeth after the 60-second application, it will dissolve on its own.

Specifications:

  • Type: Pen
  • Frequency of use: Once a day (or two times per day for better results)
  • Duration of use: One minute
  • Active ingredients: Carbamide peroxide (35%)
  • Price at publish: $19.95

The bottom line:

Although this teeth whitening pen is only advised to be used for a minute or two each day, it quickly produces results.

Get it here: Auraglow Teeth Whitening Pen


Best teeth whitening trays: Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening Trays

Best teeth whitening trays
Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening Trays

Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening Trays

Smart Brilliant offers dentist-level teeth whitening trays that can be used at home. Simply take your impressions (which can be done at home) and send them back to the lab to receive your custom-fitted trays. There are trays available for various levels of tooth stains whether light, medium, or heavy. Note that the whitening gel is made with 22% carbamide peroxide and that the recommended session time is between 45 minutes to an hour (or up to three hours) depending on your tolerance level and what your dentist recommends.

Specifications:

  • Type: Tray
  • Frequency of use: Depends on tray purchased
  • Duration of use: 45 minutes to an hour (up to three hours)
  • Active ingredients: Carbamide peroxide (22%)
  • Price at publish: From $149

The bottom line:

Those seeking a dentist-level teeth whitening kit at home will appreciate these trays designed to remove stains over time.

Get it here: Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening Trays


Most convenient teeth whitening kit: Opalescence Go Pre-Filled Teeth Whitening Trays

Most convenient teeth whitening kit
Opalescence Go 15- Prefilled Teeth Whitening Trays - 15% Hydrogen Peroxide - (10 Treatments) Made by Ultradent Products. Teeth Whitening Kit -Mint - 5194-1

Opalescence Go 15- Prefilled Teeth Whitening Trays - 15% Hydrogen Peroxide - (10 Treatments) Made by Ultradent Products. Teeth Whitening Kit -Mint - 5194-1

Dr. Liu recommends the Opalescence Go Prefilled Teeth Whitening Trays as an alternative to dentist-prescribed whitening trays. When you use these trays, your teeth will be treated with hydrogen peroxide, fluoride, and potassium nitrate. Although these trays don’t require users to make impressions prior, they typically fit well and offer full coverage from molar to molar. Furthermore, these trays work without the use of LED lights which can be particularly helpful for those who may be looking for teeth whitening trays they can easily take on the go.

Specifications:

  • Type: Trays
  • Frequency of use: Once per day for five to 10 days
  • Duration of use: 15 to 20 minutes
  • Active ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide (15%), fluoride, and potassium nitrate
  • Price at publish: $83.98

The bottom line:

These teeth whitening trays can whiten most people’s teeth even without an LED light thanks to their smart design and use of hydrogen peroxide, fluoride, and potassium nitrate.

Get it here: Opalescence Go Pre-Filled Teeth Whitening Trays


Best wireless LED teeth whitening kit: Auraglow Teeth Whitening Kit

Best wireless LED teeth whitening kit
Auraglow Teeth Whitening Kit with LED Light 35% Carbamide Peroxide Gel 20+ Whitening Treatments (2) 5mL Whitening Gel Syringes

Auraglow Teeth Whitening Kit with LED Light 35% Carbamide Peroxide Gel 20+ Whitening Treatments (2) 5mL Whitening Gel Syringes

For an LED teeth whitening kit that doesn’t require any wires (once its LED accelerator light is charged, that is) consider the Auraglow Teeth Whitening Kit. For less than $50, this tray-based teeth whitening kit contains enough carbamide peroxide gel for twenty 30-minute treatments. And, it includes a storage case for when it’s not in use.

Specifications:

  • Type: Tray
  • Frequency of use: Once per day for seven to 14 days depending on your teeth whitening goals
  • Duration of use: 30 minutes
  • Active ingredients: Carbamide peroxide (35%)
  • Price at publish: $48

The bottom line:

With enough carbamide gel to last for 20 treatments, this teeth whitening kit is a solid pick for those seeking longer-term at-home teeth whitening options.

Get it here: Auraglow Teeth Whitening Kit


Best wired LED teeth whitening kit: Colgate Optic White ComfortFit Teeth Whitening Kit

Best wired LED teeth whitening kit
Colgate Optic White ComfortFit Teeth Whitening Kit

Colgate Optic White ComfortFit Teeth Whitening Kit

Colgate’s Optic White ComfortFit Teeth Whitening Kit is powered simply by plugging it into a smartphone or tablet. "Colgate has proven whitening products and this offering by them is great for people wanting to try an LED-based product,” says Dr. Liu. “It has great peroxide ingredients and a convenient LED light that you can hook up to your smartphone!" It is made with two rows of LED lights which only take 10 minutes to treat teeth during each session (after the whitening gel pen is applied).

Specifications:

  • Type: Combination
  • Frequency of use: Once per day for 10 days, then use as directed
  • Duration of use: 10 minutes (after application)
  • Active ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide
  • Price at publish: $64.99

The bottom line:

Made with LED lights that are powered by plugging it into a smartphone, this whitening kit is easy to use and can be taken on the go.

Get it here: Colgate Optic White ComfortFit Teeth Whitening Kit


Best over-the-counter teeth whitening kit: Crest 3D White No Slip Whitestrips Dental Whitening Kit

Best over-the-counter teeth whitening kit
Crest 3D White No Slip Whitestrips Dental Whitening Kit

Crest 3D White No Slip Whitestrips Dental Whitening Kit

These Whitestrips from Crest are available online and at most supermarkets and pharmacy stores. I’ve used these strips several times before and particularly like how easy they are to peel and use—I never chipped my nails while removing them from the packaging. And, I could wear them while doing chores around the house or reading a book without feeling distracted or discomfort. Considering 44 strips are included, there are almost enough to last for an entire month which is impressive considering its $45 price tag.

Specifications:

  • Type: Strips
  • Frequency of use: Once per day for three to 20 days
  • Duration of use: 30 to 60 minutes
  • Active ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide
  • Price at publish: $45.28

The bottom line:

If you’re looking for whitening strips you can simply order or grab and go, these easy-to-use ones from Crest can be found online and in brick-and-mortar stores.

Get it here: Crest 3D White No Slip Whitestrips Dental Whitening Kit


How we selected the best teeth whitening kits

Expert advice

I chose the best teeth whitening kits considering the insights and recommendations of full-time New York and California dentists. When interviewing dentists, I asked them what people should look for in a teeth whitening kit regarding type, frequency, duration, and ingredients. They also recommended teeth whitening kits of various kinds including trays, toothpastes, strips, and more.

Easy application

Since the thought of adding a step to your dental hygiene routine may feel overwhelming, especially if you haven’t used a similar product before or you don’t have a lot of free time, I specifically chose ones with straightforward directions that many people can understand and ones that don’t require a great deal of effort to use and obtain results.

Ingredients

Since my experts recommended whitening kits containing hydrogen or carbamide peroxide, most of my picks contain these active ingredients.

Types

Different people prefer different kinds of kits so I made sure to include those that are LED, toothpaste, strips, and pens.

Types of teeth whitening kits

There are many teeth whitening kits on the market. To determine which one best fits your dental needs, you should know their pros and cons.

Toothpaste

Dr. Liu notes that whitening toothpastes containing peroxides can whiten teeth, but usually do so at a slower rate and require more consistent and routine use as the whitening agent only covers teeth for a couple of minutes during each use.

Gels

According to Dr. Liu, gel-based whitening kits often whiten teeth more effectively as the trays that are typically used can more effectively cover one’s teeth.

Strips

Whitening strips are often easy to use as they simply stick onto teeth and can usually be pulled off effortlessly. “These are the safest and most effective teeth whitening kits you can buy at home,” explains Dr. Liu.

Pens

Whitening pens can be a viable option for those looking for compact teeth whitening kits that can be put in a bag and are easily accessible while traveling. However, “they take longer to whiten, since the gels wash out faster without a tray or strip to hold the gels in place,” explains Dr. Liu.

LED

LED-based teeth whitening kits may work faster to improve teeth color as they “activate the peroxide gels to accelerate the whitening effect,” says Dr. Liu. However, if you have sensitive teeth or are trying to whiten your teeth without developing sensitivity issues, these kinds of kits may cause sensitivity issues as a result of how quickly they work.

How to use a teeth whitening kit

How you use a teeth whitening kit will vary depending on the type you select. For example, many toothpaste-based teeth whitening kits instruct people to use them once or twice per day or as directed by their dentist and only require them to put some toothpaste onto their brush and brush. On the other hand, other teeth whitening kits require two or more steps such as applying a gel with a teeth whitening pen before LED lights or squirting whitening gel into a tray before placing it into the mouth for a recommended time. Regardless of the kit used, a best practice is to thoroughly read the directions and speak with your dentist before using.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What is the most effective product to whiten teeth?

According to Dr. Becker, there isn’t one specific product that’s most effective at whitening teeth as every person differs regarding how well they upkeep their teeth and their sensitivity level. The product that’s most effective at whitening teeth for one person may not provide the same results for another.

Can yellow teeth become white again?

Whether yellow teeth can become white again will vary by individual. Dr. Becker notes that the cause of teeth discoloration often plays a big role in whether yellow teeth can whiten. “Most yellow teeth can become whiter and lighter with a good tooth whitening regimen. However, intrinsic stains from long-term antibiotic use, cavities, and previous root canal treatment cannot be whitened by dental teeth whitening,” notes Dr. Liu.

Are home teeth whitening kits worth it?

According to Dr. Liu, home teeth whitening kits can be worth it depending on your unique circumstances and if you’re willing (and able to) to wait a bit longer to see results. “They [home kits] have comparable results to dentist-prescribed teeth whitening trays, but may take longer to achieve the same results,” explains Dr. Liu. With this in mind, it’s always best to speak with your dentist to see which whitening option best suits your dental needs.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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