The 6 Best Teeth Whitening Pens On The Market, Backed By Top Dentists
At-home teeth whitening treatments tend to fall into three buckets: strips, trays, or pens. Each category has its pros and cons (strips work fast but can have a funky taste; trays aren't the most user-friendly), but if you're looking for an option to deliver pearly whites at the drop of a hat, we suggest you opt for the latter.
A teeth whitening pen is top-notch for lifting stains with sheer precision since you can literally paint the gel directly on any discoloration giving you grief. Not to mention, there's something about a pen applicator that just feels fun—painting on a minty gel sounds far more appealing than slapping on a set of whitening strips, no?
Application perks aside, there are plenty of teeth whitening pens on the market that can brighten up your smile in a snap. Here, we've compiled the best of the best.
Sneak peek at the best teeth whitening pens
Sneak peek at the best teeth whitening pens
How we picked.
In the clean oral care space, it can be difficult to find formulas that actually, well, work. These options are top-of-the-line, featuring effective whitening agents that won't wreck your tooth enamel.
Teeth whitening pens trump in terms of ease, but that doesn't mean they need to have a simple design. Each product on this list is thoughtfully formulated, from the ingredients to the packaging, and they have the reviews to show for it.
Pearly whites at every price point—here, you'll find budget-friendly options as well as areas to splurge, if you choose. Regardless of the price tag, all of these tools are of the highest caliber.
Everything on this list comes recommended and tested by trusted professionals and editors. When testing wasn't possible, we used real customer reviews to inform our choices.
What to look for.
As you browse the oral care aisles, allow the below criteria to help refine your search:
- Peroxide concentration: "Peroxide concentration is probably the most important ingredient when looking to whiten your teeth," says dentist Richard Lipari, DDS. If you have sensitive teeth, however, you don't want to apply a too-intense concentration. 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); however, you should always chat with a professional if you have some lingering concerns.
- Enamel-strengthening ingredients: Because peroxide can be sensitizing, it's important to seek out anti-inflammatory, tooth-strengthening agents on the label (think aloe vera, vitamin C, hydroxyapatite, and other botanical extracts).
- Functionality: In terms of the actual device, you'll want to make sure that it's user-friendly and high quality. Many whitening pens can be difficult to wind up or deposit way too much gel on the brush, which can ultimately dull your results.
- Portability: Whitening pens are great for removing stains on the go, so the most practical options tend to be small and portable. No one wants a clunky device!
mbg's picks for the best teeth whitening pens of 2023:
Best budget: Cali White Vegan Teeth Whitening Pen
- Not a lot of gel in the bottle
This vegan number is formulated with 35% carbamide peroxide (a compound consisting of hydrogen peroxide and urea), which has been shown to have a significant lightening effect without additional side effects, other than fleeting sensitivity. The brand promises results in as fast as one treatment, with a smile two to eight shades lighter after seven to ten days.
What users say:
This pen may not give you brilliant pearly whites (no whitening pen works that fast), but this affordable option provides a noticeable brightness. Take it from this customer review: “Not going to lie, saw this in my Amazon recommendations with the word ‘vegan’ and decided to try it. To my surprise it seems to do *something.* I've only used it like four times, but I definitely notice a change. Do I have super white, movie-star teeth? No. But I used to smoke, and I drink lots of coffee and tea, and I think this has removed some of the stains.”
Best for instant results: Dr. Brite Extreme Whitening Oral Pen
- Fast-acting without sensitizing teeth
- Difficult to wind up at first
With a name like “Extreme Whitening Oral Pen,” you can expect this high-powered number to put in the work. The star ingredient is hydroxyapatite, which is a naturally occurring mineral that makes up 97% of tooth enamel, so it simultaneously strengthens teeth as it whitens. Plus, you’ll find aloe vera, coconut oil, and vitamin C to further promote oral health, along with peppermint and spearmint oil for a minty fresh flavor.
What users say:
Despite its fact-acting results, reviewers praise Dr. Brite for remaining gentle on their enamel. “I'm pleased with this. It doesn't feel too harsh, but I still notice a difference in the shade of my teeth,” one customer writes. Another specifically comments on its quick results: “I drink coffee every day, and this pen made my teeth a few shades whiter in just a few uses.”
Best for daily use: MOON Kendall Jenner Teeth Whitening Pen
- Fun application
- Takes a few clicks to get the gel out of the applicator
This number was co-created by Kendall Jenner, who is constantly flashing her pearly whites during photoshoots, at events, etc. And with a few consistent treatments, you, too, can sport a dazzling, camera-ready smile. The formula features hydrogen peroxide to easily lift stains, while lavender oil, honeysuckle flower extract, and strawberry fruit extract provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (it also comes recommended by premier cosmetic dentist Victoria Veytsman, DDS!).
What users say:
This is the whitening pen I personally use. It’s chic, user-friendly, and easy to tuck into just about any tote I own. 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.” I haven’t seen the most dramatic whitening results (it’s difficult to give up coffee for two weeks, OK?!), but I will say that the easy application makes this one an A+ option to use every day.
Best with LED light: SmileDirectClub Teeth Whitening Kit with LED Light
- Works fast
How do LED lights help whiten your teeth, you ask? Well, the light actually just boosts the whitening gel formula; it helps activate the peroxide ingredients even faster, which gives them extra power to lift stains off your teeth. After using SmileDirectClub’s treatment duo five minutes a day for one week—once in the morning and once in the evening—the brand promises noticeably brighter results that last six months. Not bad for an at-home kit.
What users say:
Although this powerful treatment includes hydrogen peroxide (which can sensitize teeth), users say it’s pretty gentle on the enamel: “I have very sensitive gums due to [an] exposed nerve, and this did not bother me one bit,” writes one reviewer. “It’s very gentle and works great. I highly recommend."
Best for sensitive teeth: : Dr. Ginger's Coconut Oil Tooth Whitening Pen
- Reviewers say the applicator can break easily
Coconut oil has plenty of anecdotal benefits for tooth health: "I absolutely believe it has whitening properties, can decrease sensitivity, and there's even the idea that it can deter cavities from getting worse," says holistic dentist and assistant clinical professor at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine Ester Rubin about oil pulling with coconut oil. While this pen does include a small concentration of hydrogen peroxide, it’s surely the most gentle of the bunch.
What users say:
For those with sensitive teeth and gums (self included), the mere thought of painting on a whitening pen might make your teeth ache in agony. Rest assured, you won’t feel the sting with this natural-leaning number. “I have tried other products in the past, and the harsh ingredients have made my already sensitive teeth almost unbearable,” writes a reviewer. “I am very pleased to say that this has not increased my sensitivity at all. I love how easy it is to use, and I am not so worried about weird ingredients or bleaching agents in my mouth with the [natural ingredients] of this product. It goes on quickly and absorbs in about two minutes, I would say. There is no nasty taste, just a super clean feeling when you are done.”
Dentist recommended: Auraglow Teeth Whitening Pen
- Great for touch-ups
- Reviewers say not a lot of gel in the bottle
“I like the Auraglow pen, which is easy to find online or on Amazon,” says Lipari. The 35% carbamide peroxide gel claims to whiten up to 10 shades in seven days, and they have the clinical results to show for it: 100% of participants saw whitening results after use. It’s no wonder the portable tool comes lauded by plenty of oral care experts, Lipari included.
What users say:
Shoppers love the ease and convenience of Auraglow. “I found that Auraglow is one of the fastest working teeth whiteners I have tried,” one shopper writes. “The price is affordable, [and] you don’t have to sit around for a ½ hour waiting for it to lift one shade! I did a 10 minute session, and I get one shade of lift, which is real fast! Also it hasn't increased sensitivity.” Other reviewers did note that it’s difficult to tell how much gel is left in the bottle, since it comes in an opaque applicator; it may take a couple of clicks to tell how much goop you’re dealing with.
How they work.
"Teeth whitening pens basically work by applying a layer of bleaching gel directly onto the enamel of the teeth," says Lipari. "This gel typically consists of carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide… The higher the peroxide concentration, the more significant whitening effect the pen can have." And as Veytsman mentions, these pens are pretty simple to use: "You just paint it on your teeth and it fizzles the stains off, preventing them from settling into the enamel," she says.
However, the ingredient is super strong (hydrogen peroxide has the power to bleach fabrics, after all!), and many people claim it can make your teeth sensitive. Plus, preliminary research has found that hydrogen peroxide can penetrate the enamel and potentially degrade the proteins in this layer; it also has the ability to disrupt your oral microbiome, as it's incredibly antibacterial.
That being said, hydrogen peroxide is one of the only ingredients clinically shown to brighten teeth, so it's pretty difficult to find a peroxide-free formula, even in the clean and natural space. "So if you have sensitive teeth, it may be advisable to start with a product that has a lower peroxide concentration," advises Lipari. "You also want to avoid getting the gel on the gum tissue to avoid irritating the tissue."
Whitening pens are great to use in a pinch since they're so easy to grab and use on the go. "Teeth whitening pens can be used after you eat or drink a teeth-staining food or drink, such as coffee, tea, or red wine," says Veytsman. "If you just had coffee, I would recommend rinsing your mouth to get all of the staining liquid out and follow it up by using a teeth whitening pen."
If you want to use them for long-term whitening, however, consistency is key—you can't expect a bright movie-star smile with a single treatment. ""I recommend being consistent with the whitening pen for seven to 10 days while avoiding strongly pigmented foods and drinks for that seven- to 10-day period," Lipari suggests. Various pens have slightly different instructions, so do be sure to follow the directions from your chosen product; generally, though, you may start to see some results after 10 days.
Do teeth whitening pens work?
Yes, whitening pens can certainly promote whiter and brighter teeth. However, it does take some time for them to work, so don't expect dramatic results from your first round. "The most predictable way to whiten your teeth with the most dramatic result is still an in-office whitening treatment," says Lipari. "These treatments typically take between 30 to 60 minutes and are usually done once per year."
Do teeth whitening pens or strips work better?
"I think alternating between them is the most effective method for at-home whitening," Lipari says. Although, you might want to consult a dentist before doubling up, especially if you're going to use two hydrogen peroxide products and have sensitive gums.
Are teeth whitening pens safe?
The clean oral space has some catching up to do, but generally, yes whitening pens are safe (assuming you use them as directed; make sure you follow the instructions on the box!). Of course, you should look out for any iffy ingredients commonly found in beauty and personal care items, like PEGs. You can read more about what ingredients to avoid in whitening products here.
Are there any side effects?
According to research, the most common side effects from at-home teeth whitening products are tooth sensitivity and gingival (gum) irritation. Specifically, 55% of folks tend to experience mild sensitivity, 10% experience moderate, and 4% may experience severe sensitivity. It should be fleeting, so you should always consult a professional if your side effects stick around for a while.
The data on damaging the enamel isn't as clear. Some research claims that in-office bleaching treatments can damage the enamel significantly more than at-home products; others assert that 35% hydrogen peroxide did not damage enamel. It may depend on the types of ingredients used in your specific product, as well as the frequency. That said, make sure to always follow the instructions on the box.
Teeth whitening pens may sound simple (don't you just paint and go?), but there are a few factors to consider before selecting your tool. If you have sensitive gums, mind the peroxide concentration, and do make sure to use the pen as directed. Pair it with a whitening toothpaste, and you'll have a dazzling smile in no time.