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If you're looking to get a brighter smile but don't want to splurge on professional whitening services, there are many over-the-counter options that can offer you comparable results at a lower price. From strips and LED trays to toothpaste and pens, we've researched the best products to whiten your teeth safely and effectively.
Read on for our top picks.
Best Overall: GLO Science GLO Brilliant Teeth Whitening Device
The Brilliant Complete Teeth Whitening System from GLO Science was developed by the celebrity dentist, Dr. Jonathan B. Levine, and it delivers impressive results. The kit includes a LED mouthpiece that connects to a controller, a USB power adapter, ten vials of hydrogen peroxide GLO whitening gel, a tube of lip balm, and a carrying case. The ten vials are supposed to be enough for 40 or more applications, and additional GLO whitening gel can be purchased separately.
After applying the lip balm to your lips and brushing the whitening gel onto your teeth, the LED mouthpiece goes in your mouth. The light activates through the connected controller, which then applies heat and light onto the front of your teeth. Once activated, the LED light will stay on for eight minutes. The teeth whitening system can be used up to four times a day and will typically offer noticeable results within a few days.
A few whitening sessions a day for at least five days in a row is recommended. And overuse shouldn’t be an issue since the kit was designed to eliminate sensitivity. While this system certainly isn’t the cheapest option on the market, it delivers professional-level results. If you’re looking for the best overall teeth whitening product, the GLO Science system is worth splurging on.
Best Strips: Crest 3D White Professional Effects Whitestrips
Today, many brands offer a version of teeth whitening strips, but Crest has been in the game the longest. Not surprisingly, the toothpaste manufacturer still makes the best strips. While there are a few tiers of Crest Whitestrips currently on the market, the 3D White Professional Effects Whitestrips are the way to go.
Each box includes 20 individual packets of upper and lower strips, which are worn for a half-hour once a day. The no-slip strips stretch and mold to the shape of your teeth. With Crest’s Advanced Seal Technology, you can talk and even drink water while wearing them. And although the strips are notably grippy, they’re easy to remove and don’t leave a sticky residue. Although you can expect to see results within a few days, the full 20 days will provide dramatically whiter teeth.
Best Kit: Glowup Teeth Whitening Kit
Not all teeth are created equal, and neither should teeth whitening products. Those with darker, more set-in stains might want to opt for a stronger, more potent whitening formula, while those with sensitive teeth or lighter stains might prefer a gentler approach. And, of course, these needs could change over time—you might need a strong formula only at the beginning, and then rely on something lighter for upkeep.
Glowup is a great solution to these issues, providing LED teeth whitening kits that are tailored to both your short- and long-term needs. When ordering, you'll first take a survey asking you about your brushing habits, sensitivity, and so on. They'll then send you a customized kit with about a week's supply of whitening gels in either a light, medium, or strong formula.
To use, start by drying the front of your teeth, then apply the gel evenly over your teeth and insert the mouthpiece. The LED mouthpiece can be plugged into any smartphone, so it's convenient to use on the go or around your house. Each session lasts about 16 minutes—almost half the time of most whitening strips—and can lighten your teeth up to eight shades after a week of use.
Best with Light: Smile Direct Club Bright On Premium Teeth Whitening Kit
At-home grooming treatments are becoming more and more high-tech, and as a result, many teeth whitening systems include LED lights. But the one that shines brighter than the rest is the Bright On Premium Teeth Whitening Kit from SmileDirectClub.
In addition to a hands-free LED accelerator light, this system comes with a six-month supply of whitening pens. Each pen is filled with an enamel-safe, dentist-approved gel formulated to be effective yet also suitable for even the most sensitive teeth. The LED tray can be plugged into your smartphone, so you can whiten your teeth anywhere you go. For best results, SmileDirect Club suggests daily ten-minute sessions for at least a week.
Best Toothpaste: Colgate Optic White Express
Whitening toothpaste is an excellent solution for those who want a bright, sparkly smile. If you already brush your teeth twice a day, why not kill two birds with one stone and use a specially formulated whitening toothpaste, like Colgate Optic White Express? It contains hydrogen peroxide, which is the gold standard ingredient for bleaching teeth and is safe for ongoing daily use.
This toothpaste is not only practical but also fast when it comes to whitening teeth. According to Colgate, if you use it twice a day, you’ll have whiter teeth in as little as three days. That being said, you’ll see the best results with continuous use. Colgate Optic White Express also contains fluoride, so it’s the only toothpaste you’ll need to whiten your teeth and prevent cavities.
Best Gel: Opalescence PF 35% Whitening Gel
If you have reusable trays, all you need to whiten your teeth is a highly concentrated gel. Opalescence PF 35% Whitening Gel is the top choice of dentists and becoming quite popular among consumers. A pack includes eight syringes filled with mint-flavored carbamide peroxide, and each syringe contains enough gel for three to four applications.
Similar to other teeth whitening products, the Opalescence gel is intended to be applied for up to 30 minutes at a time. Since it contains 35 percent of the active ingredient, sessions longer than a half-hour aren’t recommended, especially for those with sensitive teeth.
Best for Sensitive Teeth: Lumineux Oral Essentials Whitening Strips
If sensitivity has prevented you from whitening your teeth in the past, we recommend Lumineux Oral Essentials Whitening Strips. These strips are formulated without hydrogen peroxide, which is typically the culprit when it comes to pain and other sharp sensations.
Unlike many other whitening products, Lumineux Oral Essentials Whitening Strips remove stains with coconut oil, sea salt, sage oil, lemon peel, and other naturally sourced ingredients. Not only are they gentle enough for sensitive teeth, but they’re also safe to use on veneers, crowns, and porcelain caps. Each box comes with 14 treatments, which can be applied up to three times a day for whiter teeth in just a week.
Best Pen: Go Smile On the Go Teeth Whitening Pen
The ON THE GO Teeth Whitening Pen from Go Smile is convenient, compact, and affordable. This whitening pen has a sleek application brush that dispenses pre-filled gel as you twist it, which makes it easy to evenly coat your teeth. The mint-flavored gel is formulated to stick to your teeth better than other whitening pens—a necessary feature for a product that doesn’t have strips or trays to hold it in place.
Since it doesn’t need to be wiped off, the gel contains less hydrogen peroxide than most whitening serums. After applying the gel, wait at least 20 minutes before eating or drinking anything. Using the entire pen is recommended to achieve noticeably whiter teeth, so the results aren’t as quick as other whitening systems. However, the portability and affordability of this pen are what really make it stand out. Throw the Go Smile pen in your purse, toiletry bag, gym bag, car, or desk drawer to whiten your teeth anytime, anywhere.
Our best overall pick is the GLO Science Brilliant Complete Teeth Whitening System (view at Amazon), which was developed by celebrity dentist Dr. Jonathan Levine and delivers professional-level results within a few days. If you're looking for something a bit more affordable, we recommend the tried-and-true Crest 3D White Professional Effects Whitestrips (view at Ulta).
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was researched and edited by Lily Sperry, a lifestyle writer and commerce editor here at The Spruce. When looking for the best teeth whitening products, she consulted dozens of third-party reviews, keeping both affordability and effectiveness in mind. She's a fan of the Glowup Whitening Kit, which was worked well on her sensitive teeth.