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If you drink coffee, love red wine, or smoke, you might want to consider teeth whitening. Just about everything we consume can cause teeth stains — and brushing alone often isn’t enough to keep those stains at bay. Luckily, the best teeth whitening kits can help get rid of discoloration and uncover a smile you’re proud to flash.
How to Find the Best Teeth Whitening Kits
Teeth whitening kits use peroxide-based bleaching agents to help dissolve stains on your teeth. The best at-home whitening kits contain anywhere from 3% to 20% peroxide (carbamide or hydrogen peroxides), which is a safe amount to use and administer yourself. For comparison, an in-office teeth whitening system contains 15% to 43% peroxide and should be applied by a dentist or dental hygienist.
When it comes to the best teeth whitening kits, “The higher the percentage [of peroxide], the faster it may work, but it can increase sensitivity,” says Dr. Apurva Dave, DMD, who practices in Stony Point, New York. “Also, bleaching has to be repeated multiple times before the teeth are conditioned to a particular preferred shade,” he says, so be patient and know that results aren’t overnight.
There are many factors to consider when bleaching your teeth. Dr. Dave warns that what works for you may not work as well on someone else. Whether your teeth are full of plaque, have bondings, or are just sensitive, it helps to consult your dentist for advice about at-home kits.
What Are the Best Teeth Whitening Kits?
Keep in mind: the best teeth whitening kits aren’t always necessarily the strongest. You’ll also want to choose a good teeth whitening kit based on your preferred style of application. The newest teeth whitening kits can either come as whitening strips, whitening gels, pens, trays with whitening gel, and whitening toothpaste. Some kits even include LED lights to help activate the gel in a tray.
Below, we rounded up some of the best whitening kits available to try now and what you need to know about each system.
1. Crest Whitening Emulsions
If you don’t want to deal with strips, pens, or lights, Crest’s Whitening Emulsions Kit is the best of both worlds: easy-to-use and effective. It only requires a whitening gel and an applicator, so you can apply in seconds and get on with your day. Just squeeze the gel on the applicator, swipe over dry teeth, and wait 30 minutes. Crest says the gel stays on your teeth longer than a traditional whitening pen, so your teeth will brighten long after you apply — no rinsing, brushing or removal required.
Reviewers, especially frequent coffee-drinkers, swear by it, noting that they saw results within less than a week. The kit is also perfect for those with tooth sensitivity, since the gel formulation is easy on the enamel, and safe for daily use. For fast results that last, Crest Whitening Emulsions is an easy winner.
2. Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening Trays
For a comprehensive whitening kit, check out Smile Brilliant’s whitening trays. You send Smile Brilliant a mold of your teeth, which the brand then uses to create a custom-fitted tray. This ensures totally even dispersion of the whitening gel, once you’re ready for that step. We also like that Smile Brilliant offers three tiers of whitening power, depending on your level of staining, and options for sensitive or non-sensitive teeth.
3. Opalescence Go Teeth Whitening Kit
As recommended by Dr. Dave, these strips have a higher concentration of peroxide at 15%, while still being gentle on your teeth and gums. The pre-filled UltraFit trays mold to any set of teeth and have a refreshing mint flavor. The best part is that this whitening kit is vegan, gluten free, and kosher-certified. It’s the priciest on our list, but it just might be worth it.
4. MySweetSmile Teeth Whitening Powder
Closer to toothpaste than a teeth whitening kit, this whitening powder from MySweetSmile is a great option if you’re not into the whole kit process. To use the MySweetSmile powder, just dip your toothbrush in the powder and brush your teeth for four minutes. Then brush with regular toothpaste to remove any powder. You only have to do this once or twice a week to see results, and MySweetSmile says its peroxide-free formula will prevent any kind of sensitivity or pain from coming up.
5. Colgate Optic White Overnight Teeth Whitening Pen
Colgate’s teeth whitening pen is designed to minimize tooth sensitivity while whitening your teeth. Its precision brush will allow you to apply a controlled amount of serum that’s easier to limit irritation around your gums and soft tissue. Using it overnight is effective, as the solution hardens and can work while you sleep. Like Opalescence, this is also vegan, gluten-free, and sugar-free.
6. Smile Direct Club Teeth Whitening Gel Kit With LED Light
Smile Direct Club’s kit contains the same enamel-safe whitening agents used by dentists. It contains both applicator pens and an LED light to help activate the whitening. Its results are powerful, as the brand says it can make your teeth up to nine shades brighter (while lasting up to a year) with consistent use.
7. Crest 3D White Whitestrips Teeth Whitening Kit
Crest 3D whitening strips are praised for their effectiveness, and for good reason — Crest says the whitening system could help remove up to ten years of set-in stains.
For this “Glamorous White” kit, you can use the strips (top and bottom) once a day for two weeks. Simply press them onto your teeth, hold to let them settle and stick, and then remove after a few minutes.
These strips are the only whitening strips accepted by the American Dental Association (ADA), which is based on its finding that this product is safe and has shown efficacy in whitening teeth when used according to the manufacturer.