Lighten up! Dentists explain how to buy the best teeth whitening kit for your needs.
Beauty trends may come and go, but when it comes to your smile, nobody's ever said “Yellow is the new white.” Pearly whites are always preferable, which is why we got in touch with top dentists to learn the top causes of teeth stains—and which teeth whitening kits work best to do away with discoloration for good.
“Stains on the teeth can be a product of extrinsic sources, like foods or drinks that have dark ingredients, or intrinsic sources, such as a yellowing of the inner layer of the tooth,” explains Scott Cayouette, DMD, a Charleston-based dentist and fellow in the Academy of General Dentistry. “Smoking and the natural process of aging can also contribute to discoloration.”
As for the right way to get your smile to shine bright, there’s no single option that’s best for all. Instead, consider your body and preferences first: “Choose a product that fits your lifestyle,” says Trey Wilson, DDS, a New York City-based dentist. “And know that there is variability to whitening results, since genetics, diet, oral hygiene habits, and medication all play a part.”
Nervous to jump on the bleaching bandwagon? Ask your dentist to evaluate your tooth sensitivity level before you choose a bleaching product to ensure that you’re opting for one of the right strength. “I generally recommend using a product that contains between 10 and 12% hydrogen peroxide, which is the whitening agent,” says Dr. Cayouette.
Whether you want to whiten your smile gradually or brighten up in one long sitting, there's a DIY kit out there for you. Read about our top ten picks, here.
- Best White Strips: Crest 3D White White Strips with Light
- Best Whitening Toothpaste: Supersmile Professional Whitening System
- Best Express Whitening Kit: Crest 3D White Strips 1-Hour Express Whitening Kit
- Best LED Blue Light: AuraGlow Deluxe Home Teeth Whitening System
- Best for Sensitive Teeth: Glo Brilliant Teeth Whitening Kit
- Best Budget-Friendly Toothpaste: Crest Pro-Health Daily Two-Step Toothpaste System
- Best Pen: AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Pen
- Best Taste: Zimba Professional Teeth Whitening Kit
- Best Clean Formula: Cali White Vegan Teeth Whitening Kit
- Best for On-the-Go Whitening: VS1 Teeth Whitening All-in-One Kit
Best White Strips: Crest 3D White White Strips with Light
Trusted Crest white strips get a major update in this whitening kit thanks to the addition of a handheld blue light device that penetrates the enamel to target stains. You start the whitening process by applying the flexible whitening strip for 60 minutes, which uses a low dosage of hydrogen peroxide to gently whiten your teeth. The blue light is then applied post-strip for 10 minutes to boost the whitening effects. Not only will your teeth be noticeably whiter after 10 consecutive treatments, but you’ll keep seeing the effects for the next 36 months.
Best Whitening Toothpaste: Supersmile Professional Whitening System
Not a fan of the sometimes-slobbery mouth tray method for achieving pearly whites? Ditch the plastic piece and simply brush as normal with Supersmile’s toothpaste and whitening accelerator gel duo, which work together to fight cavities, strengthen enamel, and amp up your bright white smile. Plus, the boosting accelerator can also be paired with other whitening toothpastes to help remove surface stains.
Best Express Whitening Kit: Crest 3D White Strips 1-Hour Express Whitening Kit
If you’re heading to a big event or just need results ASAP, look no further than Crest’s trusted one-hour express whitening strips. The brand’s signature advanced seal grips the strips to your teeth, so you can talk—and even drink water—as you whiten your smile. The quick results you’ll get from these white strips require a slightly higher dosage of hydrogen peroxide, which can irritate sensitive teeth. But if you’re in a bind and need results, these fast-acting strips are easily your best bet—plus, results will last for up to nine (!!!) months.
Best LED Blue Light: AuraGlow Deluxe Home Teeth Whitening System
Rather than a solo blue LED light often used by other brands, AuraGlow’s compact light boasts five LED bulbs to rapidly speed up the whitening process. Just apply the dental-grade whitening gel, powered by carbamide peroxide—a combination of urea and hydrogen peroxide—directly to the mouth tray and turn on the LED light. An automated timer turns the light off every 10 minutes, so you can keep track of your treatment’s progression and ensure you only use the kit for the recommended 30 minutes at a time. Each kit comes with enough gel for 20+ treatments (with the Dr. Cayouette-approved 10% dosage of hydrogen peroxide) and a storage case. Plus, it has over 5,000 Amazon reviews from users who say it really works.
Best for Sensitive Teeth: Glo Brilliant Teeth Whitening Kit
Developed by some of NYC’s top aesthetic dentists, the Glo kit gives you all the supplies you need to achieve a glo-wing smile at home. The high-end device is powered by the brand’s patented Guide Light Optics (G.L.O), which uses a combination of warm heat and LED lights to accelerate your whitening treatment and remove coffee, tea, wine, and smoking stains. The quick 8-minute applications won’t cause tooth sensitivity and is even safe to use on crowns, bridges, and veneers. The best part? This FDA-registered kit is clinically-proven to give you whiter teeth in just five days.
Best Budget-Friendly Toothpaste: Crest Pro-Health Daily Two-Step Toothpaste System
If you’re set on streamlining your whitening system, combine Crest’s budget-friendly toothpaste system—which includes a purifying cleanser and perfecting gel—to purge plaque and polish in just two simple steps. Not only will your teeth appear whiter within a week, but the powerful two-step system also improves your overall oral health thanks to the hydrogen peroxide and stannous fluoride included in the formula. Stannous fluoride is an antibacterial agent that’s proven to reduce tooth sensitivity and protect against gingivitis.
Best Pen: AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Pen
You can skip messy trays and sticky strips altogether with this portable whitening pen that allows you to tackle treatments on-the-go. The sleek pen contains a mint-flavored whitening gel that can be directly applied to your teeth one to two times per day. It’s also easy to use: Simply paint the gel, powered by 35% carbamide peroxide, directly onto the surface of your teeth into every nook and cranny. You’ll have to stay smiling for 60 seconds as the gel dries—and avoid eating or drinking for one hour post-application—but you’ll start seeing results within 7 to 10 days.
Best Taste: Zimba Professional Teeth Whitening Kit
Unlike some other whitening strips that have a prominent medicinal taste, Zimba uses all-natural flavors to make every 30-minute whitening treatment just a bit more enjoyable. The premium-grip white strips are boosted with either coconut oil or mint fragrance (you choose the flavor) for a great-tasting treatment without artificial sweeteners. Each box comes with 28 strips—enough for the recommended 14-day treatment—making this a super affordable, easy-to-use treatment that’s also gentle enough for sensitive teeth. Best of all, your noticeably whiter smile can last for months after the two week treatment—all for less than $25.
Best Clean Formula: Cali White Vegan Teeth Whitening Kit
While the end goal might be a brighter smile, it’s just as important to feel good about the process that got you there. Luckily, this powerful whitening gel is not only strong enough to whiten your teeth at least two shades brighter in just one week, but it also uses a vegan, gluten-free, organic, and kosher formula that’s free of parabens and sulfates. You’ll also rest easy knowing the mouth tray uses BPA-free plastic, has adequate ventilation, and is designed to minimize gum irritation. Plus, it can easily be attached to any LED light—including the five LED lights included in the kit.
Best for On-the-Go Whitening: VS1 Teeth Whitening All-in-One Kit
There’s no denying that teeth whitening has come a long way since the days you had to visit a dentist to get the treatment done—and this innovative, USB-powered system is proof. The affordable kit includes six whitening pens and one 16-light LED mouthpiece—everything you need to effectively (and quickly) whiten your teeth in just 10 minutes, no matter where you are. Start by brushing your teeth to ensure the gel pen evenly distributes the whitening serum across the surface of your teeth, apply the gel, then insert the LED light activator, which conveniently plugs directly into your phone. Wait 10 minutes before removing the light to reveal your new pearly whites.