Found: The 6 Best Teeth Whitening Kits Of 2023 That *Actually* Work
Sneak peek at the best teeth whitening kits of 2023
Sneak peek at the best teeth whitening kits of 2023
Oral care is still up and coming in the clean beauty space. While you can find effective natural-leaning options to freshen up your smile, it does take a bit more detective work to identify a gentle, high-quality formula—especially when it comes to teeth whitening.
Why? Two words: hydrogen peroxide. The ingredient is one of the only widely studied ingredients for teeth whitening, yet many people claim it can make your teeth sensitive. That being said, it's very difficult to find whitening kits that skip it, especially since we don't have an alternative ingredient that provides just as pearly results.
However! We still have very strict standards when it comes to teeth whitening kits. We made sure the versions below contain no PEG compounds, triethanolamine (a common pH adjuster that has some toxicity concerns), or other iffy ingredients. Take a look, snag a set, and prepare to show off your brilliantly white smile.
mbg's picks for the best teeth whitening kits of 2023
Best overall: SmileDirectClub Ultra-Gentle Sensitivity-Free Teeth Whitening Kit
- Contains an aftercare pen
- Features LED light
- Wireless device compatible with iPhone charger
- LED light device is pretty sensitive; I kept accidentally turning it on and off
Active ingredients:Hydrogen peroxidePeppermint oil
Number of treatments required:7
Treatment length:10 minutes
This whitening gel toes the line between gentle and powerful, promising up to seven shades whiter in just one week. The whitening pen itself is powered by hydrogen peroxide, but I personally don’t find it to be irritating (and I have pretty sensitive gums). It includes 20 treatments, as well as a patented 20-LED light (with an automatic 10-minute timer) to boost your results and an enamel-strengthening pen for whitening aftercare.
What our tester says
This is the whitening kit I personally use, and I noticed a shinier surface after just one round. As I mentioned, I have pretty sensitive teeth and gums, but I experienced no pain with this whitening gel. The pen is easy to use, and the gel doesn’t taste too funky, which is a feat for whitening formulas—it even has a slight peppermint flavor.
Countless reviews echo my praise: “I still get compliments on how bright my teeth are months after I used it,” one shopper writes. “The gel is easy to apply. The blue light is so convenient being able to plug up with your cell phone for power.”
Best budget: MOON Teeth Whitening Routine Kit
- Portable & easy
- Innovative design
- Physically lifts stains & prevents them over time
- Takes a few clicks to get the gel out of the applicator
Active ingredients:Hydrogen peroxideLavender oilHoneysuckle flower extractStrawberry fruit extractSodium fluorideKaolin clayBentonite clayWhite turmericBaking soda
Number of treatments required:14
This on-the-go whitening pen features hydrogen peroxide to easily lift stains, as well as lavender oil, honeysuckle flower extract, and strawberry fruit extract to provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Not to mention, it includes light-reflecting pigments for an instantly brighter smile. A great option for instant gratification!
The kit also includes a whitening toothpaste with sodium fluoride, peppermint oil, and a host of antioxidants, along with a “booster dust” you can use to manually buff away stains. The dust contains kaolin and bentonite clays, white turmeric, and sodium bicarbonate to physically lift discoloration—it’s like an exfoliating scrub for your teeth. Simply dip your pasted toothbrush into the dust one to two times per week to enhance your whitening results.
What our tester says
I love the ease of a portable whitening pen (I’ve written about it before), and this design is especially chic, user-friendly, and easy to tuck into just about any tote I own. I haven’t seen the most dramatic whitening results, but I will say that the easy application makes this one an A+ option to use every day.
This reviewer agrees: “The size is a big advantage compared to other products because it is basically the size of a sharpie pen. This is super convenient for putting in your pocket or purse and allows you to apply it whenever. I bring this up because I notice my teeth are whitest right after applying the product.”
Best with LED: GLO Science GLO Brilliant White Smile At Home Teeth Whitening Device
- Comes with lip care to simultaneously soften lips
- Clinically-backed results
- Easy to use device
- Requires three 8-minute treatments per day
Active ingredients:Hydrogen peroxide
Number of treatments required:15
Treatment length:8 minutes
“While it’s not an active ingredient, an LED light can help facilitate the whitening process,” says premier cosmetic dentist Victoria Veytsman, DDS. “This is because the LED light kickstarts a chemical reaction to help speed up the breakdown of peroxide, the active ingredient in the solution that gets applied to your teeth. This allows the peroxide to fizzle any stains off the teeth at a faster pace, leaving you with whiter teeth in less time.”
This kit includes a patented LED mouthpiece with five clinically-backed teeth whitening treatments (enough for three 8-minute sessions over five days). The mouthpiece calls upon the brand’s advanced heat technology to reach an optimal temperature that whitens teeth faster and brighter. In fact, a study conducted by the brand showed that three 8-minute daily applications, over five days, resulted in an average improvement of 10 shades.
What users say
It’s difficult to choose just one glowing review, but I think this one says it best: “[This] whitening device brightened my teeth and gave me back confidence in my smile again. I am a heavy coffee and tea drinker and felt my smile was not as bright as before. I was ashamed of it. After using this whitening device, I can see gradual improvement day by day. The instructions are super easy to use, and it is convenient to do every day.”
Best for sensitive teeth: Lumineux Teeth Whitening Kit
- Most natural option
- 30-day money back guarantee
- Some reviewers say the strips easily stick to each other
Active ingredients:Coconut oilSage oilLemon peel oilDead sea saltXylitol
Number of treatments required:4 days in a row, then once a week as needed
Treatment length:30 minutes
Some folks are fans of strips, since the adhesive evenly coats the tooth’s surface and leaves little room for error (whereas with a pen or tray, you must manually brush on the whitening gel). And if you’re looking for peroxide-free strips (which are hard to find!), you can’t go wrong with this Lumineux kit: The strips contain natural brighteners, coconut oil, sage oil, and lemon peel oil, while the pinch of Dead Sea salt delivers precious minerals—calcium, potassium, and magnesium, to name a few—to your enamel and gums.
To amp up your results, feel free to brush with the natural whitening toothpaste and take a swig of the alcohol-free mouthwash—both of which include xylitol to help strengthen enamel.
What users say
“These are the best toxin-free whitening strips I’ve found,” writes one reviewer. “They don’t cause any sensitivity, and you can see a difference with just one use.”
Some people say the super-thin strips can easily stick to the packaging, but it seems storing them in a cool area helps with that issue. “Store them in a cool place. Not the bathroom,” one shopper writes. That’s the mistake I made at first, and the bottom strip would not come out of the package properly so the bottom strip would then be wasted…when you store them in a cooler place, there are no problems, and boy do they work!”
Best for tough stains: Dr. Brite Wireless Advanced Whitening System
- Quick results
- Strengthens enamel
- Booster pen enhances results
Active ingredients:Hydrogen peroxidePeppermint oilHydroxyapatiteChamomile flower extractCarbamide peroxide
Number of treatments required:1-2, then as needed
Treatment length:10 minutes
This “Advanced Whitening” kit includes two types of gels: a standard whitening gel to use with the LED-powered tray (which offers both blue and red LED light), and a “Brite Booster” pen to really elevate your results. Each formula features hydroxyapatite, which is a naturally occurring mineral that makes up 97% of tooth enamel, so it simultaneously strengthens teeth as it whitens. It does come with a steep price tag, but you’ll only have to buy the full device once—the pen refills are $50 a pop.
What users say
Despite the hydrogen peroxide, reviewers say there’s little to no sensitivity involved with this system. “This is the best whitening system I have used,” one shopper writes. “I have not experienced any sensitivity and usually with other products I get extreme sensitivity. I 100% would recommend.”
And users are notably impressed by the formula’s ability to lift years-long stains with ease. “[I] have always been embarrassed by my yellow teeth and felt like I couldn't even smile with teeth showing,” one reviewer shares. “Now, I feel like I’ve got to show them off…I even had someone DM me on Instagram asking if I had edited my teeth to look whiter.” That’s when you know it’s good!
Best for quick results: Snow At-Home Teeth Whitening Kit
- 30-day money back guarantee
- 2-year warranty
- Almost instant results
Active ingredients:Hydrogen peroxideCarbamide peroxide
Number of treatments required:21
Treatment length:9-30 minutes
This high-quality kit contains three different whitening wands: two silver wands that whiten up to eight shades, and a gold wand, which whitens up to 12 shades. Both work in as little as nine minutes a day! Formulated by a cosmetic dentist, the advanced proprietary whitening gel delivers professional-level results in record time; in fact, the brand notes 97% of participants saw results after just one use!
What users say
Users definitely notice a change in just a few days. “I drink a lot of hot herbal tea every day, and my teeth were a little stained from the tea. I already can tell a difference after five days,” one shopper recounts.
Even the nonbelievers are floored! “If I'm being honest, I was skeptical at first [because with] every other whitening product I've tried before I saw no results or it would make my teeth sensitive,” says another reviewer. “This, I must say, I saw results within two sessions [and] no sensitivity at all. I recommend it 100%.”
How we picked:
Some prefer strips, others gels and trays, while others love the ease of a portable pen. You'll find whitening kits with each type of product here.
Clinically backed results
We thoroughly sifted through ingredient lists and claims to find the best formulas with effective, clinically backed results. The options on this list come either dentist-formulated or dentist-recommended, too.
Testing & testimonials
Everything on this list comes recommended and tested by trusted professionals and editors. We also used real customer reviews to inform our choices.
Here, you'll find budget-friendly options that work just as well as splurge-worthy kits. Teeth whitening kits can get expensive, but we made sure to include more affordable bundles that don't skimp on quality.
|Product||Price||Active ingredient||Subscription discount?||Treatment length||Number of treatments|
|SmileDirectClub Ultra-Gentle Sensitivity-Free Teeth Whitening Kit||$50||Hydrogen peroxide||No||10 minutes||7|
|MOON Teeth Whitening Routine Kit||$34.99||Hydrogen peroxide||No||N/A||14|
|GLO Science GLO Brilliant White Smile At Home Teeth Whitening Device||$159||Hydrogen peroxide||No||8 minutes||15|
|Lumineux Teeth Whitening Kit||$45||Coconut oil & sage oil||Yes||30 minutes||4|
|Dr. Brite Wireless Advanced Whitening System||$200||Hydrogen peroxide||Yes||10 minutes||1-2|
|Snow At-Home Teeth Whitening Kit||$150||Hydrogen peroxide & Carbamide peroxide||Yes||9-30 minutes||21|
What to look for
Here's what to consider when purchasing a kit:
"Peroxide is the most common ingredient in teeth whitening kits," says Veytsman. "When looking for whitening strips, gels, pens, etc., some concentration of peroxide should be on the ingredient list, whether in the form of hydrogen peroxide, carbamide peroxide, etc. Peroxide is the active ingredient that works to oxidize or 'fizzle' the stains off, leaving you with a brighter, whiter smile."
However, if you have sensitive teeth, you might want to look for a lower concentration of peroxide, like carbamide peroxide. "Carbamide peroxide is actually a little more gentle," says board-certified endodontist Alexa Martin, DMD. Research has shown that a 16% and 35% carbamide peroxide concentration1 are effective and safe for teeth without additional side effects (aside from some sensitivity).
Especially if you do have sensitive teeth, you'll want a product that simultaneously strengthens and soothes your gums and enamel. Think anti-inflammatory ingredients like aloe vera (which actually functions as a natural tooth brightener), vitamin C, xylitol, hydroxyapatite, and other botanical extracts.
Teeth whitening products come in various forms, the most common being gels, strips, pens, and trays. Gels tend to be the most potent, which means they may also cause the most sensitivity.
"Pens and strips tend to have a lower percentage [of peroxide] but will also be easier to 'clean up' if you're on the go (like driving)," says Martin. "Strips are great to store in your bag for vacation [or] to use while you're getting ready." Choose your own adventure here, depending on your lifestyle and commitment level.
Are teeth whitening kits safe?
At-home teeth whitening kits are totally safe—assuming you use them correctly. Always follow the instructions on the product, and always speak with a dentist if you have any specific concerns.
"If you have any gum issues, gum recession, cavities that haven't been treated, or extreme teeth sensitivity, I would recommend being extra careful when using at-home whitening kits," adds Veytsman. "I also suggest connecting with your dentist should you experience any discomfort when using whitening products or dental products in general."
The most common side effect from whitening products is sensitivity and irritation, likely from the peroxide. "The peroxide, the same way it stings when you put on a wound, is irritating to the soft tissue inside the tooth, which contains thousands of nerve endings," says Martin. "Start slow [with] shorter windows of time, and see how your teeth respond."
Some people can only handle whitening once or twice a week, and that's OK! But according to Martin, the discomfort shouldn't last for too long: "Studies show that even if you get irritation during the bleaching (sometimes your gums around your teeth will be sore and white, too!), it's completely reversible," she notes.
You'll still want to avoid staining your gums with the product the best you can, but rest assured that any irritation should ebb. If it doesn't, that's your sign to consult a professional.
Is there a downside to teeth whitening?
The biggest downside is the sensitivity some may experience during the process. However, according to Martin, the irritation should disappear once you're done.
Timing is another potential gripe. At-home kits take multiple rounds to brighten up your smile, whereas a professional can whiten your teeth in one go. Plus, "Professional teeth whitenings aren't as harsh on the enamel, and your dentist can take proper precautions to ensure your teeth are prepped with products that will help to desensitize them and ease discomfort," says Veytsman. That said, professional treatments are often more expensive.
Can yellow teeth become white?
With time and effort, yes! Martin regards yellow and brown stains (from coffee and tea, for example) as "extrinsic stains" that respond quite well to whitening products. "The bleach can target this externally and lighten things up," she notes.
"People who have naturally grayer teeth, or someone who had 'tetracycline staining' (gray discoloration from taking a certain type of antibiotics as a kid), will not respond well to whitening strips," she adds.
The same goes for teeth that have internal stains: "If you have a tooth that had trauma and is now discolored or an old root canal that may need to be redone, you will need this same ingredient of bleach inside your tooth—this is a procedure an endodontist (who specializes in the inside of the tooth!) can do for you that is minimally invasive," she adds.
Do teeth whitening kits really work?
"While I typically recommend in-office whitenings for dramatic whitenings or for removing hard-to-budge staining, at-home whitening kits are great for refreshing your smile and lifting mild staining," says Veytsman. "The active ingredient that oxidizes the stains off is peroxide, usually coming in the form of hydrogen peroxide, carbamide peroxide, etc."
The peroxide targets the pigments in your enamel, naturally breaking them up and neutralizing the color, adds Martin. So, yes, teeth whitening kits really do work—like other at-home ventures, it won't be as potent as an in-office treatment, but with some time and patience, you'll likely see results!
How teeth whitening impacts health & longevity
Wanting whiter teeth isn't only about the aesthetics. A brighter smile is nothing to brush off, of course, but a whiter smile is often a healthier smile—and oral health is crucial for longevity.
Your mouth, after all, is the gateway to your body and the beginning of your gastrointestinal tract, and your gut affects virtually every function of your body.
"[Your mouth] is right next to the brain," functional medicine psychiatrist Kat Toups, M.D., says on the mindbodygreen podcast. "And what's in the mouth and nose can travel right up into the brain so easily." In fact, the bacteria P. gingivalis, the key pathogen in periodontitis, was identified in the brain of Alzheimer's disease patients2. Another study suggests a possible link between F. nucleatum 3(another periodontal pathogen) and Alzheimer's disease3.
That being said, you should prioritize oral care for the sake of your overall health. It may take more than a whitening kit to secure a healthier smile, but it's not a bad way to start—especially when you use these clean, high-quality options.
Looking for clean oral care? You can't go wrong with any of these teeth whitening kits, though I personally love SmileDirectClub's user-friendly design and MOON's on-the-go ease. Consider these formulas an investment for a brighter smile—arm yourself with a whitening toothpaste, too, to really elevate your routine.