As many of us spend more time at
home hunched over our laptops while practicing social distancing, it’s no surprise that more and more of us are taking self-isolation as an opportunity for DIY beauty — whether that’s in the form of a manicure or zapping away body hair from the comfort of our bathrooms. Another thing you might be curious about trying: at-home teeth whitening.
With so many options on the shelves, it’s hard to know where to start — so we went straight to the pros for guidance. “A whitening treatment’s effectiveness depends on two factors: The concentration of hydrogen peroxide and how well and long the bleaching product remains isolated on your teeth,” explains Brian Kantor, DDS, a NYC-based cosmetic dentist at
Lowenberg, Lituchy & Kantor. “The length of time your teeth will stay whiter varies and is influenced by how often you drink coffee, tea, dark soda, red wine, or smoke. People whose teeth have more of a yellow or brown tone usually bleach better than people with gray tones in their enamel.”
Think of the delivery method this way: According to Dr. Kantor, things like strips will work better if you need serious whitening, versus a pen, which is great for touchups but won’t deliver dramatic results since the product isn’t on the teeth long enough to penetrate.
From the tried-and-true Crest Whitestrips to a dentist-developed system that rivals in-office treatments, here are the best whitening kits that have the pros’ stamp of approval.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn a commission.
Spotlight Oral Care Whitening System
If you have sensitive teeth, you might have been resistant to try a whitening kit. Let us introduce you to this peroxide-free option, with ingredients like menthol and vitamin E oil to gently lift stains without stinging. (For a limited time, you can get 15% off with promo code FALL15.)
Spotlight Oral Care Whitening System, $, available at LookFantastic
Apa White Duo
Dental hygienists we spoke to were fans of this system, which uses carbamide peroxide to noticeably whiten teeth in just five days. First, you use the pen to coat teeth in the gel solution, then you cover them with the films and leave them in place for 90 minutes. It might seem like a long time, but the pros we spoke to promise the fast results are totally worth it. (Here’s a list of
new Netflix shows to watch while you wait.)
apa Apa White Duo (11 piece), $, available at DermStore
SmileDirectClub Teeth Whitening Kit
This expert-approved teeth whitening kit by SmileDirectClub is not only convenient (you can whiten your teeth in five minutes), but it’s also super affordable. The kit comes with nine whitening pens and an LED light modeled after the ones dentists use for in-office treatments.
Smile Direct Club bright on Premium Teeth Whitening Kit with LED, $, available at Amazon
GLO Science GLO Lit Teeth Whitening Tech Kit
Ready to get a bit more technical? Glo’s blue LED light kit (which activates the hydrogen peroxide gel) has Bluetooth-enabled pairing so you can track your schedule and progress.
GLO Science GLO Lit™ Teeth Whitening Tech Kit, $, available at Sephora
Crest 3D Whitestrips Glamorous White
It’s a go-to for a reason. “They contain hydrogen peroxide, which is the major ingredient that whitens teeth by breaking down stains on the molecular level,” says Dr. Kantor. “The bleach within the strips remains in contact with the tooth enamel long enough to deliver noticeable results.”
Crest 3D Whitestrips Glamorous White, Teeth Whitening Kit, $, available at Amazon
Colgate Optic White Advanced LED Whitening
Looking for quick results? Colgate’s newest teeth-whitening innovation comes with an LED light mouthpiece (just charge it up before use) and 20 tubes of gel to get you a brighter smile in just 10 days. Got a Zoom date this weekend? You can have it delivered from
Amazon in a matter of days.
Colgate Optic White At Home Teeth Whitening Kit, $, available at Amazon
AuraGlow Deluxe At-Home Teeth Whitening System
With nearly 10,000 reviews on Amazon, this viral teeth-whitening kit is trusted by many. In addition to an LED accelerator light, the system comes with enough gel syringes for 20 treatments.
AuraGlow Deluxe At-Home Teeth Whitening System, $, available at Amazon
Moon Kendall Jenner Teeth Whitening Pen
This model-approved whitening pen won’t deliver drastic results — the all-natural formula calls on fruit acids rather than peroxides. But for a hit of fresh, vanilla-mint breath and an instant brightening effect, it’s worth keeping in your clutch.
Moon Kendall Jenner Teeth Whitening Pen Vanilla Mint Flavor, $, available at Ulta Beauty
Snow All-In-One Teeth Whitening Kit
This choice Bed Bath & Beyond find has hydrogen peroxide to deliver visibly brighter teeth in as quickly as one week.
Snow All-In-One Teeth Whitening Kit, $, available at Bed Bath & Beyond
“Of all the toothpastes I’ve tried personally, this one contains an ingredient that keeps plaque off teeth longer than any other,” says Youlanda Bates, a registered dental hygienist in Las Vegas. “It keeps your teeth feeling smoother longer, which is important to me both personally and professionally.”
Colgate Colgate Total Advanced Deep Clean Toothpaste – 4 oz, $, available at Walmart
Colgate also make a toothpaste hygienists recommend for sensitive teeth. “I love how it treats dental hypersensitivity while at the same time providing great taste and foam,” says certified registered dental hygienist Ana Laura Otero, who works in Pembroke Pines, Florida. It promises to replenish natural calcium within your teeth’s enamel, all the while building up protection against sensitivity with each use.
Colgate Enamel Health Multi-Protection Toothpaste Cool Mint , $, available at Target
For those who want some whitening with their tooth-cleaning ritual, NYC-based dental hygienist TK TK recommends this formula, which strengthens as it improves the color of your teeth. “The silica provides a gentle way to remove surface stains, and the hydroxyapatite is an essential building block when remineralizing teeth,” she says. Bonus: “The peppermint oil is a great addition that fights bacteria and freshens breath.”
apa Apa White Toothpaste, $, available at Neiman Marcus
You can also get sensitivity relief with the help of a few natural ingredients, like the aloe and coconut oil found in this formula. “My patients love that, on top of sensitivity relief, this product is also free of gluten, dyes, sulfates and artificial sweeteners,” Ochi says. “And in addition to relieving sensitivity, it contains fluoride and xylitol which helps prevent cavities.”
hello Toothpaste, $, available at hello
Ochi urges her patients to always choose brushes with extra-soft bristles, like the ones on this brush, which don’t compromise its effectiveness in any way. “This brush has tapered bristles that are able to sweep under the gums to remove unwanted plaque,” Ochi says.
gum GUM® Summit®+ Toothbrush, $, available at gum
Ochi also loves this option, which has soft, tapered bristled infused with activated charcoal and a plant-based handle. And although you can purchase it on its own, Ochi notes that it’s actually free with a subscription from Hello’s website, “so there’s no excuse not to replace old, worn out toothbrushes,” she says.
hello Toothbrush, $, available at hello
Bates is a fan of electric toothbrushes, especially those that help her patients become better brushers. “With features such as a timer that notifies you when to move to each quadrant of the mouth and a warning light when you use too much pressure, you can’t beat this toothbrush,” she says.
Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean Sonicare Electric Toothbrush, $, available at Philips
Bates also sings the praises of this high-tech option, which features a Bluetooth-activated phone app that lets you know if you’re using the right brushing technique.
Oral-B Bluetooth Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush, $, available at Target
If you like the idea of charcoal bristles but prefer the power of an electric toothbrush, this clever device combines the two. “It’s a sleek powered toothbrush that features three brushing modes, a timer, and charcoal bristles,” Ochi says. “And the best part: Replacement brush heads are only $6.”
burst The BURST sonic toothbrush, $, available at burst
If a dental hygienist doesn’t nag you to floss more, are they really dental hygienists? Multiple hygienists, including Otero, recommend this easy-to-find kind. “My patients love when I use Glide waxed floss on them. It is soft to their gums and easy to roll in the fingers without being slippery,” Otero says.
Oral-B Oral-B Glide Cool Mint Pro-Health Deep Clean Floss, $, available at Target
“This floss is coated in a light cardamom natural blend of wax and expands to help remove plaque between the teeth,” Ochi says of one of her favorite flosses. “It’s gentle on gums and easy to maneuver between the teeth.”
dr tungs Dr. Tungs Smart Floss, 30 Yd, $, available at Walmart
For a vegan option that’s also ridiculously cute — yes, floss can be cute — Ochi recommends this Sephora-sold option. “It comes in variety of flavors, it’s coated in a vegan wax and coconut oil, and their bright and cheerful packaging brings a little fun to flossing for my patients,” Ochi says.
cocofloss Cocofloss, $, available at Sephora
For extra between-teeth cleaning, Dico is a fan of these manual, disposable picks. “They have flexible, comfortable bristles to gently remove plaque, dislodge food and massage gums,” she says. “This is great for those who have larger spaces between teeth, and super-handy if you’re dining out.”
gum GUM® Soft-Picks® Advanced, 90 Count, $, available at gum
Otero recommends alternating the use of floss or picks with this device, which nearly every dental hygienist we spoke to raved about. “It’s excellent for patients with restorations, implants, bridges, braces, or permanent retainers,” Otero says.
Waterpik WP-560 White Cordless Advanced Water Flosser, $, available at waterpik
Bates says this alcohol-free formula is the closest you can get to a prescription mouthwash over the counter. “In my 17 years of experience as a dental hygienist, I’ve seen more of an improvement in gum health with this than any other mouthwash,” she says. “I also advise my patients to use it in their Waterpik tank so that the mouthwash is getting delivered under the gum line where harmful bacteria thrive.”
CloSYS Original Unflavored Mouthwash for Sensitive Mouths, $, available at Amazon
Available in several flavors, this rinse is another favorite of Bates because it’s alcohol-free and contains fluoride. “Fluoride naturally combines with tooth enamel to strengthen it against sensitivity and decay,” she says. “I advise my patients to use this mouthwash in the morning and CloSYS in the evening.”
act ACT Mint Anticavity Flouride Mouthwash, 18 oz., $, available at Walmart
Another option for those who want a more natural rinse, this mouthwash is alcohol-free and contains coconut oil, tea tree oil, and xylitol in additional to titular charcoal. “It’s sure to keep your breath fresh without stinging your mouth,” Ochi says.
hello activated charcoal extra freshening mouthwash, $, available at hello
“Lately I’ve had many patients [who] swear by activated charcoal powder. It seems to do the trick and is becoming more popular,” says Bates, who has been impressed with the whitening results she’s seen. “I always advise patients that if they happen to start feeling sensitivity, then they should stop for a while and use fluoridated products. And any crowns or veneers will not whiten — only natural teeth.”
active wow Coconut Charcoal Powder Natural Teeth Whitening, $, available at Target
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