Dreaming of a pearly white smile? You’re not alone.
While you can visit a dentist for professional teeth whitening, a typical treatment doesn’t come cheap: It costs around $650 per visit.
This is where teeth whitening pens come in. They’re thin, plastic tubes that contain whitening gel. They remove dental stains from food and beverages, such as coffee, red wine, and berries.
Curious to learn more? We’ve rounded up the best options recommended by dentists. Keep reading for the top teeth whitening pens to keep your smile bright.
One of the biggest benefits of teeth whitening pens is their ease of use.
Most work by twisting the bottom to release the whitening gel, which is often carbamide peroxide, or a combination of urea and hydrogen peroxide.
Carbamide peroxide whitens teeth slower than hydrogen peroxide, but it helps reduce tooth sensitivity, said Dr. Joseph Salim, DMD.
To use a whitening pen, paint the whitening gel onto each tooth with the pen’s soft brush tip. Unlike other whitening treatments, the brush can get hard-to-reach areas where stains build up most, such as in between the gums, said Dr. Jennifer Jablow, celebrity dentist and founder of intelliWHiTE.
Depending on the model, you either leave the gel to dry or leave it on for a specified amount of time before rinsing it off. “Usually, gels solidify and form a film that adheres to one’s teeth,” said Salim. “This film causes the whitening effect.”
When choosing teeth whitening pens for this list, we considered three main factors: ingredients, price points, and customer reviews.
Tooth sensitivity, for instance, was top of mind. Certain ingredients, such as hydrogen peroxide, have been known to both cause or aggravate sensitive teeth.
Finally, we spoke with licensed dentists to round up the top 10 whitening pens they trust most.
We’ve indicated the price range for each product as follows:
- $ = under $15
- $$ = $15–$30
- $$$ = over 30
This popular product is a good option for sensitive teeth since it contains 35 percent carbamide peroxide. This is equivalent to approximately 13 percent hydrogen peroxide. It comes with 15 whitening treatments and has a clear tip that lets you know how much you’re using.
“It’s extremely easy to use,” said Salim. “The pen’s little brush allows one to precisely paint the teeth [with the whitening gel].” Thanks to the quick-drying gel, you can see results in 60 seconds.
This pen has over 9,273 reviews on Amazon, with many users calling it “one of the best whitening pens” they’ve ever used.
Best for sensitive teeth
This product is made to brighten teeth and fight tooth decay — all in one. It contains xylitol, which has been known to strengthen tooth enamel.
Since it’s made with 44 percent carbamide peroxide, it’s safe for those with sensitive teeth. Thanks to a refreshing peppermint taste, you can worry less about having a bad taste in your mouth after use.
Want to brighten teeth as you sleep? Consider this pen made by a brand many dentists trust. The serum, which is vegan, gluten-free, and sugar-free, changes from a whitening liquid into a film covering the teeth. This is easily brushed away in the morning.
Since it’s made with 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, don’t expect fast results. Jablow explains that if the product contained a higher level and was used without a mouthguard, it could cause side effects.
This is a great option for those who prefer to buy in bulk. You have a choice of 6 months of whitening or a 1-year supply. According to the company, you can expect brighter teeth in a week — sometimes nine shades brighter.
That being said, Salim cautions that since it has a high concentration of hydrogen peroxide, it’s not ideal for people with sensitive teeth.
Best whitening power
Coming in with one of the highest concentrations of peroxide, this pen packs a whitening punch. You can use it twice a day, morning and night, to break down stains that embed in the enamel of your teeth.
The Philips Zoom Whitening Pen comes highly recommended by dentists. Dr. Lauren Steddum, DMD, and partner dentist with CarolinasDentist and Lightwave, tells Healthline that she uses Philips’s whitening products exclusively in her office.
Best ease of use
Formulated with 35 percent carbamide peroxide, this product can help break down stains to reveal whiter-looking teeth.
Satisfied customers note its ease of use. Simply twist to dispense the gel and paint it on your teeth using the brush. As long as you follow directions, there should not be any mess.
Its one drawback is how long it takes to dry. It takes around 30 minutes, which is much longer than other similar products.
If you don’t feel like shelling out more money than you must, consider the Polar Teeth Whitening Pen. It’s affordable and doesn’t skimp on results. It contains 12 percent dental-grade hydrogen peroxide, which works at a higher level to help give you whiter teeth, fast. Its quick 30-second drying time also makes it easy to take on the go.
Don’t let the celebrity endorsement fool you — according to users, this pen delivers. In collaborating with Kendall Jenner, the company had a goal to make oral care less boring. Users comment on the pen’s pleasant taste — with notes of lavender, strawberry, and honeysuckle — and say it’s “worth the hype.”
Best for daily use
This pen aims to remove years of stains with its carbamide peroxide formula. While many whitening pens toe the line between whiter teeth and sensitivity, this one takes no chances. It’s gentle and can provide more than 20 treatments with a very thin application.
Sixty percent of users give it 5 stars. Many say how easy it is to use and like the natural mint flavor.
Best blue light device
This whitening pen and blue light combo by Go Smile is designed to provide visible results after one treatment.
The device makes treatment easy by beeping after 30 seconds to let you know when it’s time to change sections. The included USB cord to charge the device makes it travel-friendly. Many customers are impressed, with one writing, “Literally within one use, I saw a huge difference!”
As convenient as teeth whitening pens, they may not be as effective as visiting a dentist’s office.
For instance, Dr. Mariya Malin, general dentist, says that whitening pens do not work on brown or gray stains. “Also, this whitening method will not work on crowns, veneers, or fillings,” she added.
There’s also a risk of the whitening gel reaching other areas of the mouth. “If the lips collapse down, the saliva dilutes and washes away the peroxide,” explained Jablow. “This can cause less than desired results and side effects such as sore gums, tongue, etc.”
Many dentists recommend using a whitening pen in combination with in-office treatments.
Below are some alternatives to consider:
In-office teeth whitening
If you’re looking for instant results, this might be it.
It’s a relatively short procedure — up to 2 hours — that lifts teeth shades about three to four shades brighter in a single appointment.
This may come in handy for big events, such as weddings, photoshoots, and graduations.
As with any teeth whitening procedure, there are some drawbacks. “This procedure is very effective, but it can make teeth temporarily very sensitive for 24 hours post-treatment,” said Steddum.
Thankfully, dentists are trained to help prevent this. “Aftercare will be monitored and touchups by any adjunct whitening product can be used in addition to whitening treatment,” said Malin.
Custom teeth whitening trays
Custom teeth whitening trays bring the dentist to your home.
Impressions of your teeth are used to make trays that fit your teeth perfectly.
There’s a 14 percent hydrogen peroxide gel in the trays. For those with sensitive teeth, Steddum says you can use concentrations as low as 6 to 9 percent hydrogen peroxide.
“Wear trays for 15 to 30 minutes once a day for 7 to 14 days, or until you achieve desired whiteness/brightness,” Steddum said.
From there, use for touchups throughout the year to maintain a bright, white smile.
This is another over-the-counter whitening option that helps solve yellow or stained teeth.
They’re small pieces of polyethylene, which is a thin piece of flexible plastic. Each strip contains a bleaching agent, such as hydrogen peroxide, to whiten teeth.
If overused or not used correctly, it can permanently damage your tooth’s enamel. “They are very dehydrating and cause sensitivity and gum irritation,” explained Jablow.
Teeth whitening pens provide something to smile about: They’re safe, affordable, and relatively effective.
Each tube contains a whitening gel that removes dental stains from food and beverages. But since there are so many to choose from, this list can help narrow down your options.
If you decide teeth whitening pens are not for you, there are always alternatives, such as professional teeth whitening treatments from a dentist.