What to Buy Oral & Dental Products The 8 Best Teeth Whitening Kits of 2023, Tested and Reviewed The SmileDirectClub kit visibly whitened our testers' teeth without any pain or sensitivity By Jaylyn Pruitt Jaylyn Pruitt Jaylyn Pruitt has been working with Dotdash Meredith since May 2019 and is currently a commerce writer for Health where she writes about health and wellness products. health's editorial guidelines Updated on December 23, 2022 Medically reviewed by Edmund Khoo, DDS Medically reviewed by Edmund Khoo, DDS Edmund Khoo, DDS, is an orthodontist and clinical associate professor at the New York University College of Dentistry. learn more Fact checked by Richard Scherr Fact checked by Richard Scherr Rich Scherr is an updates strategist and fact checker for Dotdash Meredith brands, including Health and Verywell. He is a seasoned financial and technology journalist who served as editor-in-chief of the Potomac Tech Wire for nearly two decades, and is a regular contributor to the sports pages of The Baltimore Sun. He has also been a news editor for America Online and has contributed to the Associated Press and The Washington Post. health's fact checking process Share Tweet Pin Email In This Article Expand Jump to a Section Our top picks Reviews Our Testing Process What to Know About Teeth Whiteners How Much to Expect to Pay for a Teeth Whitening Kit More Teeth Whiteners to Consider Your Questions, Answered Who We Are We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more. Health / Jessica Juliao 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. "The key Ingredients to teeth whitening products that actually whiten tooth enamel color are peroxide based, either carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide," says Dr. Velayo. "These ingredients penetrate the enamel to reverse intrinsic [internal] and extrinsic [external] stains." In other words, a peroxide-based treatment is your best bet for a long-lasting treatment. "When it comes to peroxide-based whitening treatments, important factors that impact effectiveness include concentration, duration, and delivery system," she adds. To find the best teeth whiteners, the Health team tested 21 products in our lab and continued testing at home, following manufacturer instructions and looking for convenience, comfort, effectiveness, and overall value. Our Top Picks Best Overall: SmileDirectClub Teeth Whitening Kit at Amazon Jump to Review Best Overall Runner Up: Spotlight Oral Care Teeth Whitening Strips at Amazon Jump to Review Best LED: Auraglow Whitening Kit at Amazon Jump to Review Best Pen: AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Pen at Amazon Jump to Review Best Trays: Opalescence Tooth Whitening Prefilled Trays at Amazon Jump to Review Best for Sensitive Teeth: Crest 3D Sensitive Teeth Whitening Kit at Amazon Jump to Review Best Strips: Lumineux teeth whitening strips at Amazon Jump to Review Best Gel: iSmile LED Teeth Whitening Kit at Amazon Jump to Review Best Overall SmileDirectClub Bright On Premium Teeth Whitening Kit 5 Amazon View On Amazon View On Walmart View On CVS Why We Like It: With five-minute treatments and painless application, our tester thought this product was effective and pain-free It's Worth Noting: You have to use it twice daily for full results After testing 21 different teeth whiteners, SmileDirectClub's whitening kit was an easy pick as our best overall—our tester's 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 our tester didn't experience that with SmileDirectClub's Teeth Whitening Kit. "I guess I associated effectiveness with pain, which now I'm really glad I know isn't necessarily the case!" she said. The kit uses an LED light device in combination with whitening gel to deliver its results, neither of which felt uncomfortable to our tester. "The gel is easy to apply to your teeth and didn't burn or tingle my teeth or gums," our tester said. "I have sensitive teeth and a seltzer habit, so I anticipated a little bit of discomfort and was really pleasantly surprised." While our tester had a hard time thinking of a downside to the product, they noted that the twice daily treatments could be inconvenient. Price at time of publication: $67 Product Details: Type: LED lightRecommended frequency of use: Twice a day for one weekRecommended duration of use: 5 minutesActive ingredients: 9% hydrogen peroxide Health.com / Jessica Juliao Best Overall Runner Up Spotlight Oral Care Teeth Whitening Strips 4.8 Amazon View On Amazon View On CVS View On Spotlightoralcare.com Why We Like It: The vacuum seal on these whitening strips makes them easy to wear It's Worth Noting: The strips must be worn for an hour 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 my teeth effectively—it has a vacuum-sealed effect," our tester said, giving top marks to the strips' comfort. Our tester found a difference of five shades at the end of testing, without tingling or sensitivity. The only thing our tester found inconvenient was the duration of treatment—strips must be worn for an hour each time. They still gave these strips a thumbs up, noting the product's affordable price point for its results. "For me, the only real caveat would be that it's a bit of an investment in terms of time," they said. "But if you have that downtime in your day, I say go for it!" Product Details: Type: StripsRecommended frequency of use: 14 daysRecommended duration of use: 1 hourActive ingredients: 0.01% hydrogen peroxide Health / Jessica Juliao Best LED Auraglow Complete LED Whitening Kit 4.5 Amazon View On Amazon View On Walmart View On Auraglow.com Why We Like It: This relatively inexpensive and pain-free kit offers maximum results It's Worth Noting: The device needs to be recharged and doesn't give a low-battery warning 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 our tester found was accurate, brightening their teeth even further. Two of our tester's negative points came from the device itself. They noted that the tray is quite large, especially for smaller mouths, and that the device needs to be recharged at least once a week with regular use, without giving a low-battery warning. Overall, our tester noted that the slight discomfort from the device wasn't enough to take away from the results—especially considering the price (and pain) that often accompanies teeth whitening. "Given how much I know professional whitening costs, and remembering the pain and sensitivity I had with the trays my dentist gave me years ago, I would absolutely say this is worth the price and the inconvenience for a couple of weeks," our tester said. "I could tell my teeth were looking whiter, but it wasn't until I looked at the chart that I could see just how much whiter," they said. "These are very surprising results to me!" Price at time of publication: $100 Product Details: Type: GelRecommended frequency of use: Daily for 1 weekRecommended duration of use: 30 minutesActive ingredients: 35% carbamide peroxide Health / Jessica Juliao Best Pen AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Pen 4.2 Amazon View On Amazon View On Walmart View On Auraglow.com Why We Like It: The entire treatment is just a pen, which makes it easy to take with you for quick touch ups without a lot of gear It's Worth Noting: It does sacrifice more extreme results in the name of portability Whitening pens are an easy solution to teeth whitening and quick touch ups. The Auraglow Teeth Whitening Pen includes more than 20 treatments with an easy-to-use brush applicator. While our tester found that the pen didn't offer as extreme results as other products on our list, they ultimately thought it worked well as an on-the-go device. "I think this product is straightforward and easy to use," they said. "It is easy to bring with you when you are traveling somewhere, and it doesn't require much time—literally 60 seconds." Price at time of publication: $37 Product Details: Type: PenRecommended frequency of use: 7 days or whenever neededRecommended duration of use: 1 minuteActive ingredients: 35% carbamide peroxide Health / Jessica Juliao Best Trays Opalescence Go Tooth Whitening Prefilled Trays 4.2 Amazon View On Amazon View On Walmart Why We Like It: It only takes a short amount of time to see results It's Worth Noting: These may not work well for people with tooth or gum sensitivity 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 percent hydrogen peroxide treatment, which is higher than some of the other options on our list, meaning you'll get faster results. Our tester noticed almost immediate results after one use, while noting that the higher dose caused some discomfort and sensitivity. Our tester tried the higher formulation, but Opalescence also makes its trays in a 10 percent 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 traysRecommended frequency of use: 5-10 daysRecommended duration of use: 15-20 minutesActive ingredients: 15% hydrogen peroxide; also available in 10% Health / Jessica Juliao Best for Sensitive Teeth Crest 3D Whitestrips Sensitive Teeth Whitening Kit 4.8 Amazon View On Amazon View On Walmart View On Ulta Why We Like It: Perfect for sensitive teeth, these strips provide a noticeable difference right away without any pain or tingling It's Worth Noting: While results are almost instant, they're not as drastic as other whitening products 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 that we tried during our test. The difference is a lower peroxide level; the sensitive strips contain 5.25 percent hydrogen peroxide compared to Crest's standard 6.5 percent. "This product was super comfortable and not painful at all," our tester said. "I'm very surprised since my teeth and gums are very sensitive and this process was literally painless." Our tester noticed a difference right away while using the strips, but they note that it wasn't as drastic as other, stronger products might be. Price at time of publication: $40 Product Details: Type: StripsRecommended frequency of use: Once daily for 14 daysRecommended duration of use: 30 minutesActive ingredients: 5.25% hydrogen peroxide Related: The Best Toothpastes for Sensitive Teeth Health / Jessica Juliao Best Strips Lumineux Teeth Whitening Strips 7 Treatments Amazon View On Amazon Why We Like It: These comfortable strips won't get in the way while you wear them It's Worth Noting: The strips only cover the teeth visible during smiling and don't whiten all teeth Peroxide use is a concern for many people looking to whiten their teeth. While peroxide itself isn't an issue, some may be worried about the negative side effects, like increased sensitivity, it can pose for teeth. While all of the dentists we spoke with noted that peroxides are the most effective ingredient for whitening, they also noted that exposure should be limited. "People should limit their exposure to tooth whitening products as aggressive bleaching with high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide as in professional strength products can cause enamel softening and changes in the surface roughness of enamel," says Dr. Hovanisyan. "It can also 'weaken' the enamel, creating susceptibility to demineralization and caries." 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. Our tester found the same thing while using the whitening strips, finding that the strips were effective after two to three uses. They also found that the strips were easy to apply, staying on teeth even while talking during the 30-minute application period, though they only cover the front 6-8 teeth on each row. Our tester also appreciated that the strips didn't have a bitter or chemical taste, which is sometimes the case with teeth whitening strips; instead, they had a refreshing flavor thanks to their all-natural ingredients list. Price at time of publication: $23 Product Details: Type: StripsRecommended frequency of use: 7 days, then 1-2 times per week for maintenanceRecommended duration of use: 30 minutesActive ingredients: Coconut oil Health / Jessica Juliao Best Gel iSmile LED Light Activated Teeth Whitening Kit 4.7 Amazon View On Amazon View On Shopismile.com View On Target Why We Like It: Our tester found this 10-minute treatment even more effective than previous professional treatments It's Worth Noting: The device can cause slight discomfort on the gums Like some of the other products on our list, the iSmile Teeth Whitening Kit uses gel in combination with an LED device, but our tester found that this device had a clean and easy application, which is rarely guaranteed with gel products. "It's convenient how you can apply the solution onto the mechanism before putting it in your mouth," they said. "This allows it to be less messy and for the solution to be [evenly] applied when you bite down." It's also fairly quick, only requiring 10-minute treatments over the course of a week, which brought our tester up five shades. "Extremely effective in whitening my teeth. I think [it] may have been more effective than previous whitening treatments I have done in the past at the [dentist's] office," said our tester. The only drawback, they noted, was the slight discomfort. "No teeth whitening product that has to sit in your mouth for 10 minutes will ever be extremely comfortable, but given the gel gripping and only 10-minute application time, it is not a tedious process at all," they said, noting that they were looking forward to buying gel refills and continuing to use the product. Price at time of publication: $50 Product Details: Type: LED deviceRecommended frequency of use: Once daily for 7 daysRecommended duration of use: 10 minutesActive ingredients: 35% carbamide peroxide Related: The Best Electric Toothbrushes Health / Jessica Juliao Our Testing Process To find the best teeth whiteners, the Health team tested whitening devices in our lab and at home. 21 testers used a variety of whitening products, including LED devices, white strips, toothpastes, and pens for effectiveness, comfort, convenience, and value. Before testing, our testers 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. 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. "In addition to [peroxide], consumers should look for potassium nitrate, fluoride, and/or xylitol because of their added benefits to improve patient comfort and post op sensitivity," says Dr. Velayo. 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, D.D.S., 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, so dentists warn that you should use caution if adding one to your dental routine. "UV whitening lights [are] temporary, and can dehydrate the teeth and cause tissue damage," says Dr. Velayo. 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. While you may see slight results from toothpastes, they likely won't last. "The typical hydrogen peroxide toothpaste on the market has around 1% hydrogen peroxide concentration, give or take," says Dr. Velayo. "That makes for simply not enough time in contact with the teeth, and not a high enough concentration to make a huge improvement." 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 our tester loved for their easy use and great taste but didn't like as much for their limited coverage. Our most expensive pick is the Hismile PAP+ Teeth Whitening Kit at $149, which our tester 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. Opalescence Whitening Toothpaste with Fluoride at Amazon: Our tester saw some results during normal use with this toothpaste, but they found that consistent use made their teeth sensitive and inconsistent use takes teeth back to their previous shade. Crest 3D Whitestrips, Professional Effects, Teeth Whitening Strip Kit: Our tester had results of more than 10 shades whiter but found that application—particularly slippery strips and drool buildup—to be quite aggravating. Colgate SuperNova Rechargeable At-Home Teeth Whitening Kit: While easy to use, the device requires long recharge periods and the whitening gel can leave a sticky film on teeth after 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 use of duration. Dr. Velayo pointed 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, warning that you might not get the results you think you will. "Charcoal pastes tend to work by abrasion," Dr. Roark explains. "Charcoal abrasive pastes wear away the stain, which also wears away at the outer enamel layer of 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." Ultimately, any whitening kit or device will only work as well as its upkeep. If you're planning on whitening your teeth and want long-lasting results, you should be prepared to make changes to your eating and drinking habits. "People who drink a ton of coffee/tea, smoke, and eat lots of sauces daily will not get long term results," says Dr. Rubinshtein. 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. "People with very thin enamel may experience high levels of pain and discomfort with teeth whitening," says Dr. Rubinshtein. "People with gum disease and cavities should deal with that first prior to considering teeth whitening." 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." Dr. Rubinshtein also notes that in-office and at-home treatments work in similar ways, but you should exercise more caution when whitening teeth on your own. "Both types of whitening require the use of peroxide based bleaching agents. In the office we use a higher concentration because it is monitored by professionals and at home, we use a weaker amount of it," he says. "If these whitening treatments are not done correctly, they can burn the gums and cause extreme amounts of teeth sensitivity." 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. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Kalliath C, Mukunda A, Pynadath M, Venugopal V, Prethweeraj J. Comparison between the effect of commercially available chemical teeth whitening paste and teeth whitening paste containing ingredients of herbal origin on human enamel. Ayu. 2018;39(2):113-117. doi:10.4103/ayu.AYU_82_18 Gottenbos B, de Witz C, Heintzmann S, Born M, Hötzl S. Insights into blue light accelerated tooth whitening. Heliyon. 2021;7(2). doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2021.e05913.