Updated on April 24, 2024
15 min read

Best At-Home Teeth Whitening Kits in 2024 (And What to Skip)

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Want a brighter smile without emptying your wallet on professional whitening? At-home teeth whitening kits could be the answer.

With over 15 years of experience testing teeth whitening products, we understand the struggle of choosing the best product. But don’t worry, we can help you find the perfect solution for your speed, sensitivity, and budget needs.

Our General Recommendations

  • Best Budget Options: Whitening strips and pre-filled trays are both affordable and can give you great results.
  • Best If You Want to Splurge: Whitening kits with LED lights tend to be pricier, but often provide the fastest and most dramatic results.
  • Not Our Favorites: Whitening pens tend to be messy and not super effective. Most whitening toothpastes don’t have enough active ingredients to make a big difference.

Key Ingredients in Teeth Whitening

Home whitening kits use the same active ingredients as professional treatments but in lower amounts. It can take longer to see their effects, and they work best on surface stains.

The two heavy hitters in at-home whitening are:

  • Hydrogen Peroxide ⁠— Breaks down stains quickly and is super effective
  • Carbamide Peroxide ⁠— Breaks down into hydrogen peroxide, working similarly but over a longer period

These ingredients are generally safe, but they can make your teeth sensitive if you use them too much or in concentrations that are too high. Other common ingredients help with sensitivity, prevent cavities or make the product easier to use.

Remember, teeth whitening isn’t permanent, so you have to do occasional touch-up treatments. But don’t overuse the product and always follow the directions.

Everything We Recommend

  1. Best Overall: Crest 3D Whitestrips
  2. Best for Fast Results: Auraglow Complete LED Teeth Whitening Kit
  3. Runner Up – Whitening Strips: Zimba Flavored Teeth Whitening Strips
  4. Snow® At Home Teeth Whitening Kit: Snow® At Home Teeth Whitening Kit 
  5. Best Prefilled Tray: Opalescence Go 10% Peroxide Kit

Our 5 Favorite Teeth Whitening Products of 2024

Our team tested more than 30 products, each undergoing an extensive review process.

Here are the best at-home teeth whiteners available in 2024, according to our testing results and research:

1. Crest 3D Whitestrips

Best Overall
Crest 3D Whitestrips Professional Effects

Crest 3D Whitestrips are a classic choice for at-home whitening, and for good reason.  They’re effective, well-known, and backed by the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance.

Crest offers two versions of the 3D Whitestrips⁠, both of which we recommend:

  • Crest 3D Sensitive Whitestrips — Our #1 pick due to their minimal sensitivity and affordable price per strip. These use a lower concentration of hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth gently.
  • Crest 3D Whitestrips— These strips often provide faster results, but they’re pricier and might cause more sensitivity due to the higher peroxide content.

Each package contains 14 treatments (28 total strips⁠—14 upper, 14 lower) and instructions. Crest recommends one treatment daily for 30 minutes.

What Our Testers Say

Both types of Crest Whitestrips caused little to no sensitivity for our testers, and the results were noticeable within a few uses. The strips stick well to your teeth and are easy to use, even on the go.

Snow® At Home Teeth Whitening Kit

You may experience some tooth or gum sensitivity, especially with the regular strips. This is usually temporary.

Even with the Sensitive version, overuse can cause sensitivity. Our owner uses them regularly and finds he only experiences sensitivity if he uses them several days in a row.

Why We Chose Crest Sensitive as Our #1: Since the ingredients between almost all Whitestrips are similar, we chose the 3D strips as our top pick due to Crest’s strong brand recognition and reputation for safe and effective whitening products.

2. Auraglow Complete LED Teeth Whitening Kit

Best for Fast Results
Auraglow

If you’re looking for an affordable way to try at-home teeth whitening, the Auraglow Complete LED kit hits the mark. While many whitening kits use similar formulas, Auraglow’s generous supply of whitening gel (35% carbamide peroxide) translates to a lower cost per application.

The science is still out on whether LED lights actually speed up whitening, but you can think of it as a helpful bonus. It allows easier, hands-free gel application and can whiten the harder-to-reach surfaces of your teeth.

What Our Testers Say

One of our testers saw noticeable results after just one use of Auraglow’s kit. After multiple applications, her teeth were already a few shades lighter.

While higher peroxide gels can cause temporary sensitivity, this depends on the person using it. One of our testers had to use the sensitive variant of our number 1 pick because he couldn’t use the kit, but another tester had no sensitivity issues.

Auraglow whitening kit contents with logo

From our experience with this LED whitening kit, these are Auraglow’s positives:

  • One of the most affordable LED whitening kits
  • Large supply of whitening gel for low per-application cost
  • Comfortable, hands-free LED mouthpiece
  • Compact packaging
  • Includes xylitol, which can promote dental health

Like all products, Auraglow also has some weaknesses:

  • Higher peroxide formula could cause temporary sensitivity
  • Manually applying the gel can be a bit messy

3. Zimba Flavored Teeth Whitening Strips

Runner Up – Whitening Strips
zimba teeth whitening strips

While Zimba might not have the same immediate name recognition as some larger brands, these whitening strips are a surprisingly effective and affordable option. The added flavoring might not be essential for everyone, but it does provide a pleasant touch to the whitening process.

The real standout feature is the price. At under $20, Zimba strips undercut the cost of many popular competitors. If a well-known brand name isn’t your top priority, these strips deliver comparable results.

Other things I appreciated:

  • Convenient: The 30-minute application time is easy to fit into a daily routine and the strips adhere well.
  • Gentle Formula: As someone with occasional tooth sensitivity, I was pleased that these strips caused no discomfort.
  • Variety: For those who do enjoy flavor options, Zimba provides several choices.

If you’re focused on a budget-friendly whitening solution that doesn’t sacrifice results, Zimba is worth considering. They prove that a recognizable brand name isn’t always necessary for a brighter smile.

4. Snow® At Home Teeth Whitening Kit

Runner up – Whitening Kit
Snow Whitening

Snow® has been a big player in at home whitening for a while, but their recent price drop under $100 makes them a serious contender again.

If you were put off by the cost before, now is a great time to give it a try. Snow will still cost you more than Auraglow, but it delivers great value.

What Our Testers Say

So, what sets Snow apart from Auraglow? According to our testers, the Snow formula is less concentrated than Auraglow, which can be a major plus for those with sensitive teeth.

When it comes to application, this is where personal preference comes in. Snow uses a brush-on serum, while Auraglow has you apply the gel directly.

Both offer hands-free whitening thanks to the LED mouthpiece, so it’s more about what you find more convenient.

Snow® At Home Teeth Whitening Kit 1

These are other features our testers liked about Snow:

  • It’s designed for sensitive smiles and still delivers noticeable results.
  • One kit lasts over half a year or more, offering great value. This largely depends on how often you use it. If you only use it every few weeks to maintain, it might last you forever (your gel will probably expire before you run out).

If you’re looking for a gentle yet powerful whitening option with a convenient brush-on formula and are willing to pay a little extra, Snow is a fantastic choice.

5. Opalescence Go (10% Hydrogen Peroxide)

Best Prefilled Tray
Opalescence Go

Opalescence Go (10% Peroxide) offers a completely different approach to at-home teeth whitening, and we’re genuinely impressed. It’s the perfect option for those who want noticeable results without the fuss of messy gels or custom trays.

The trays are prefilled with the perfect amount of whitening gel and require no dental impressions. Just take them out of the package, put them on, and you’re ready to go.

What Our Testers Say

Many of our testers found that the UltraFit™ trays are remarkably adaptable. They mold to the teeth perfectly, so they don’t have to worry about slippage or gum irritation. This makes a huge difference compared to other trays we’ve tried.

While other brands boast about high peroxide content, we appreciate that Opalescence Go strikes a balance. The 10% concentration delivers noticeable whitening without the major sensitivity some of our testers sometimes experience with other whitening products.

Other features our testers appreciate include:

  • Flexibility — These trays are so convenient. Since the wear time is 30-60 minutes, it’s easy to whiten while running errands, watching TV, or just relaxing with a book.
  • Tasty Options — Having the choice between Mint and Melon flavors is a nice touch.
Opalescence product shot

One of our testers has been a whitening strip devotee for years, but she really likes Opalescence Go as an alternative. Strips are easy but sometimes leave her smile patchy.

Opalescence Go’s prefilled trays guarantee even whitening, thanks to the comfy UltraFit™ design. It’s the perfect option for a step up from strips and a seriously impressive at-home whitening experience. That’s why Opalescence Go takes our top spot for “Best Prefilled Tray.”

Get your brightest smile with NewMouth's top teeth whitening picks for 2024.

How We Test and Choose Products

We take our product recommendations seriously. Our in-depth process involves over 100 hours of in-house testing, consulting with dental professionals, and analyzing peer-reviewed studies on at-home whitening.

Here’s what you need to know about our testing process:

  • We tested dozens of products, including kits, LED kits, strips, pens, and toothpaste.
  • Recommendations are based on what we’ve personally tested.
  • We retest products to rule out user error and ensure consistent results. Only the best pass our rigorous standards.
  • Our team has 10+ years of combined experience using at-home whitening products and has been managing the whitening content section of NewMouth for 3 years. We even have a specialist for sensitivity testing.
whitening page

Our testers closely evaluated each product based on these key factors:

  • Application Method ⁠— Strips, LED kits, pens – we compare them all.
  • Sensitivity — We track side effects like tooth sensitivity and gum irritation.
  • Safety — Products must use safe bleaching agents in appropriate ratios.
  • Ingredient Quality — We prioritize non-toxic ingredients.
  • Ease of Use — Did the product stay put? Were the instructions clear?
  • Treatment Time — We consider both wear-time and overall treatment length.
  • Results — What kind of results did we see, and how long do they last?
  • Pros and Cons — We weigh the positives and negatives of each product.

Meet the Experts

In addition to our own research, we talked to three dental professionals for expert advice. They provided insight regarding the safety of at-home whitening, ingredients to look for and avoid, and how to choose the right product for your needs. 

  1. Dr. Khushbu Aggarwal Gopalakrishnan, DDS — One of NewMouth’s in-house dentists
  2. Dr. Gurpreet Sidhu, DDS — A dental practice owner at Lighthouse Dental Centre in Langley, BC, Canada, with over 20 years of experience
  3. Dr. Kate Zoumboukos, DMD Dr. Zoumboukos is part of SW Austin Dental. She’s also a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry (FAGD) and a member of the American Dental Association (ADA)

Tips for Choosing At-Home Whitening Products

We’ve learned a lot through our extensive testing and want to share our insights. Remember, these are our informed opinions⁠—always consult your dentist before starting any whitening treatment.

Here’s what we generally lean towards:

  • Whitening strips for convenience ⁠— We favor whitening strips for their ease of use and affordability. They’re the perfect balance of results and accessibility compared to other whitening options.
  • Whitening kits for potential value ⁠— Whitening kits may offer better long-term value if you’re looking for more noticeable whitening. They often include higher-concentration gels, but the costs can add up. Some at-home whitening kits also include LED lights, but there isn’t strong scientific evidence to support their effectiveness yet.

If you have significant discoloration or want immediate results, in-office whitening treatments by a dentist remain the most effective option.

On the other hand, these are whitening methods we don’t recommend:

  • Whitening pens⁠ — These aren’t our favorite, as pens can be messy to use with less consistent results. They often require multiple daily applications for less noticeable whitening.
  • Whitening toothpaste ⁠— Brushing with a whitening toothpaste can give a temporary brightening effect, but the whitening ingredients don’t have enough contact time with the teeth to give significant results.

What to Look for in Teeth Whitening Products 

When choosing an at-home whitening product, choose reputable brands with good reviews and FDA-approved ingredients. The most effective ingredients are peroxides and phthalimido-peroxy-caproic acid (PAP).

Ingredients to avoid include:

  • SLS
  • Propylene glycol
  • Some flavorings
  • Alcohol
  • Cocamidopropyl betaine

Other key factors to consider include:

Effectiveness

To be truly effective, whitening products must address the cause of the stain. According to the three dental professionals we interviewed, hydrogen peroxide is the key ingredient to look for in at-home whitening products. 

“Hydrogen peroxide breaks down into water and oxygen. It is the most effective teeth whitener because it oxidizes organic structure and changes how light reflects from the surface,” says Dr. Sidhu. 

Many studies have also determined hydrogen peroxide to be a safe and effective whitening agent when used correctly.3,4

Some whitening products also use abrasives. These work through mechanical action by removing surface stains. They are present in ingredients like hydrated silica and calcium carbonate.

Surface vs. Deep Stains

To understand how whitening products work, it’s important to distinguish between the two main types of tooth stains⁠⁠—surface stains (extrinsic) and deep stains (intrinsic).

Imagine your teeth as a car. Surface stains are like dirt and grime from daily driving⁠—they’re more common.

They originate from external factors, which include:

  • Food
  • Drinks (wine, tea, berries
  • Smoking
  • Certain medications

A good car wash (at-home whitening) can remove them.

On the other hand, deep stains are like rust spots that have formed beneath the paint⁠—embedded within the tooth’s structure.

These stains can be caused by:

  • Medication side effects
  • Dental trauma
  • Aging
  • Excessive fluoride exposure during tooth development

You’ll need a professional auto body shop (dentist) to fix those.

How to Tell Which Stain Type You Have

To determine the type of stain you have, consider your lifestyle factors as clues. You can also observe the color of your teeth.

Surface stains tend to be yellowish or brownish. Deep stains can be gray, blueish, or have a darker, more stubborn appearance.

If you see noticeable brightening after just a few at-home whitening treatments, you likely have surface stains. If there’s minimal change after a week or two, you may have deeper stains.

Delivery Method

The best whitening method will depend on your preference. Each product has different delivery methods, which can affect user experience.

  • Prefilled Trays ⁠— Convenient and comfortable. Dr. Aggarwal recommends them as LED lights haven’t been proven essential. “[They] contain potent whitening gels… and will whiten your teeth.”
  • Custom Trays — Molded to your teeth, but require manual gel filling and sometimes don’t have enough room for the gel (we tested a custom tray solution and liked it significantly less than out-of-the-box kits and strips).
  • LED Kits — May or may not speed up whitening. “More studies are needed to determine their effectiveness,” our dental experts state.
  • Strips — Popular and often affordable. “Dry your teeth and place the strips for 10 to 30 minutes.”
  • Pens — We don’t recommend these due to the increased risk of burning sensations and mess, they also don’t seem that effective.
  • Toothpaste — Good for maintaining results, not dramatic whitening. “Choose a product with a low Relative Dentin Abrasivity (RDA) score,” our dental experts say.

Application Time

Application times for at-home whitening products typically range from 10 to 60 minutes per session. Products with higher peroxide concentrations usually require shorter sessions, but they also carry a higher risk of tooth sensitivity.

It’s important to monitor your progress regularly during treatment. If you experience discomfort, take a break or switch to a product with a lower peroxide level.

Bleaching Concentration

The higher the peroxide concentration, the faster the whitening. However, it also has a higher sensitivity risk. Follow instructions carefully and consult your dentist if you have sensitive teeth.

LED Lights

Research is mixed on whether LED lights boost whitening. Dr. Zoumboukos says, “The LED light itself will not whiten teeth⁠—the bleaching product will.”

In-office lights differ from at-home ones, potentially offering faster results.

Safety

At-home teeth whitening is generally considered safe when you follow the product instructions and avoid overuse. Those with thin enamel might benefit from gentler whitening options with lower peroxide concentrations or whitening agents like PAP.

Choosing products with the ADA Seal of Acceptance is a good way to ensure safety and effectiveness. This seal indicates that the product has undergone rigorous testing and meets the American Dental Association’s standards.

What Type of Whitening is Right for You? 

Before starting any whitening treatment, whether at home or professionally, it’s crucial to consult your dentist, especially if you have concerns about sensitivity or oral health.

This is emphasized by our dental experts, including Dr. Zoumboukos, who states: “There is a risk that your teeth or gums will become sensitive to the bleach solution. Tooth bleaching will not alter the color of your existing dental restorations, and discussing possible outcomes with your dentist before starting any treatment will help clarify possible outcomes.”

Beyond getting professional guidance, consider your lifestyle when choosing a whitening method. If you desire immediate results, professional bleaching may be the best option. However, at-home solutions offer greater convenience and flexibility.

Last updated on April 24, 2024
12 Sources Cited
Last updated on April 24, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
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