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Brighten up your smile with these convenient, at-home teeth whitening pens
When it comes to certain teeth whitening products or procedures, you learn to grin and bear the discomfort — but that’s not the case with whitening pens, which offer a convenient and portable way to brighten your smile without increasing sensitivity.
“The two main side effects of bleaching the teeth are gum irritation and tooth sensitivity," explains Dr. Britany L. Baker, DMD. "These side effects are greatly reduced when people use teeth whitening pens, because the concentration of the active ingredient that makes the tooth lighter is lower than professional whitening. They really do work and I recommend them for patients who suffer with teeth sensitivity.”
Designed to create immediate and lasting results, whitening pens don’t whiten as drastically as in-office whitening sessions or teeth whitening strips, but they’re far more convenient — just apply the gel to your teeth, wait 30 to 60 seconds, and then either rinse or let the product dissolve on its own, revealing a brighter smile.The thin brush tips allow for a more precise application that can penetrate hard-to-reach crevices between teeth for a more uniformly brightened smile. “The major benefit of using a whitening pen is the convenience factor," adds Dr. Shahira Saad, DDS. "It can easily be carried around in your pocket or purse for frequent on-the-go touch-ups.”
To help you find the best teeth whitening pen for your needs, we tested 13 products from the top brands on the market both in our lab and at home. Over several weeks, we evaluated their effectiveness, noting their ease of use, any sensitivity or lingering taste, and keeping in mind their practicality for on-the-go touch-ups. We also kept in mind overall value for each product.
Keep reading for the best teeth whitening pens to help you achieve a more luminous, pearly white smile, including products designed to instantly brighten, those made for sensitive teeth, and more.
Best Overall: VieBeauti Teeth Whitening Pen
It noticeably brightened our teeth after one week of consistent use.
There’s no need to rinse or brush your teeth after use, so it’s great for taking on the go.
It takes less than 1 minute to use from start to finish.
The pen leaves teeth feeling fresh and clean, rather than sticky or gooey.
We noticed slight sensitivity when accidentally getting it on our gums.
Out of all the teeth whitening pens we tested, VieBeauti’s product was the clear winner thanks to its intuitive instructions, quick and fuss-free application, overall value, and most notably, the dramatic results we saw in just one week. We used all three pens included in this value pack over the course of several weeks, noticing a distinctly brighter smile after just a few days — by the end of our testing period, our teeth were a full two shades whiter.
While you’ll need to brush your teeth before using this pen, there’s no need to brush or rinse afterwards, making this a fast and convenient product for touch-ups on the go. We loved that it didn’t leave any sticky residue in our mouths — in fact, it felt more like that after-dentist clean feeling. While we felt a mild tingling sensation when we accidentally applied some on our gums, it didn’t cause any other lingering discomfort or sensitivity.
It’s incredibly straightforward to use: You simply twist the cap until the gel appears, then apply it to your teeth and wait for 30 seconds before it dissolves. It’s mess-free and fits easily in a purse, making this a great travel companion that you can pull out on the go.
Given that there are three pens included in this kit, we also found it to be an excellent value, as they each go a long way — particularly for anyone looking to use this primarily for touch ups, rather than for twice-a-day use over an extended period of time.
Price at time of publish: $14.99 (orig. $29.99)
Active Ingredients: 35% carbamide peroxide | Treatment Length: 30 seconds, twice daily
Runner-up, Best Overall: Philips Zoom Whitening Pen 5.25% HP (1 Pen)
We noticed shinier teeth after one use, and visibly brighter teeth after one week.
It’s easily portable and a great value purchase.
Philips is a highly trusted and widely used brand.
There’s a slight aftertaste, but it goes away within moments.
If you’re looking for a pen with all of the same positive attributes as our top pick, but from one of the most trusted and recognizable name brands in dental care, then the Philips Zoom Whitening Pen is for you. It’s portable and compact, making it a practical addition to any purse or gym bag for on-the-go touch-ups.
While you are required to brush your teeth first, there’s no need to do so afterwards — the gel dissolves within less than a minute, leaving teeth feeling smooth and clean. The only downside is we did notice a slight aftertaste, but it was manageable and didn’t linger long.
We found that a little goes a long way with this pen; after using it at least twice a day for two weeks, we still had plenty of solution leftover. It uses hydrogen peroxide to help lift stains and spots, and we noticed our teeth were shinier after just one use. After a full week of using the pen as directed, our teeth were visibly whiter and some small stains were removed entirely.
Price at time of publish: $21.36
Active Ingredients: 5.25% hydrogen peroxide | Treatment Length: 60 seconds, twice daily
Best Budget: Polar Teeth Whitening Polar Teeth Whitening Pen Single
Our teeth were 4 shades lighter after 3 weeks of consistent use.
It has a pleasant minty taste that's not overpowering.
A little goes a long way — one pen lasted us for a full month.
The process is more time consuming, as the gel takes a longer time to set.
You need to brush the gel off after use, unlike some other whitening pens we tested.
We noticed slight gum sensitivity after using as directed for one month.
This teeth whitening pen boasts 12 percent dental grade hydrogen peroxide, which is almost double the amount included in the Philips Zoom Whitening Pen — we found that it drastically whitened our teeth (a full 4 shades!) after 3 weeks of use. Our dentist even commented that our teeth were looking brighter.
While the higher percentage of the active whitening agent did cause some slight gum sensitivity after regular use, we didn’t find it too painful — certainly less so than what you would experience after a professional whitening session.
Our biggest hangup was that the gel requires 60 seconds to dry, and then an additional hour to set before brushing it off. If you’re looking for a more portable option, we’ve got plenty of other convenient products on this list. But for those with room to incorporate this into their morning or bedtime routine, the time commitment will pay off with a brighter smile in less than a month. Plus, it’s an excellent value purchase, as the pen lasted us a full month. We appreciated that the clear tube also allowed us to keep an eye on how much solution was left inside, so we knew when we were due for a refill.
Price at time of publish: $9.99
Active Ingredients: 12% hydrogen peroxide | Treatment Length: 60 minutes, once daily
Best for Invisalign: Invisalign Whitening Pen
We noticed that our teeth were visibly brighter and more even in tone after just a few uses.
It’s formulated with mint oil to help freshen breath.
The gel leaves a slightly tacky residue on teeth for a few moments after use.
The pen is opaque, so you can’t see how much product you have left.
Invisalign users are already on their way to a straighter smile, so why not double down and whiten your teeth at the same time? This gel is small and compact, making it easy to bring along to the office or on vacation. For best results, it’s suggested to first brush and dry your teeth before application, then to leave your mouth open for 30 seconds before letting the gel set for another 15 minutes.
We found that there was a slight learning curve to dispensing the gel, which works best when held upside down and shaken a few times before use (if you’re using it primarily at home, you can also store it upside down to ensure it’s always ready to use).
The gel has a refreshing minty flavor that we liked, but it did leave a slightly squishy residue in our mouths after application, which we were able to get rid of by spitting a few times. We appreciated that it didn’t cause any sensitivity to our teeth or gums, and that it visibly brightened and evened out the tone of our teeth.
Price at time of publish: $16.99 (orig. $19.99)
Active Ingredients: 5% hydrogen peroxide | Treatment Length: 30 seconds, one to four times daily
Best Instant Brightening: Moon Oral Beauty Kendall Jenner Teeth Whitening Pen
It’s ideal for on-the-go use, as it doesn’t require you to brush your teeth before or after.
We noticed our teeth were immediately more luminous after use.
We saw gradual whitening progress over the course of a few weeks.
The pen is on the smaller side, so you’ll need to re-purchase more often compared to some other options we tested.
We wish the body was clear, so that we could see when we were due for a refill given the compact size.
Looking for a megawatt KarJenner smile? This petite pen, which was co-created with Kendall Jenner and Moon Oral Beauty, is a practical way to keep your pearly whites looking paparazzi-ready at all times, thanks to its slim design which makes it easy to fit in your pocket or purse.
It’s super easy to apply — there’s no teeth brushing required, so you don’t need to plan around having a sink nearby — requiring only 30 seconds of keeping your mouth open for the gel to set before it dissolves on its own within just a few moments.
We loved that it didn’t cause any tooth or gum sensitivity, and that we saw an immediate difference in the brightness of our smile thanks to the light-reflecting pigments in the product. Over the course of a few weeks, our teeth whitened by two shades. The only downside is that the pen is only .09 oz., meaning it’s on the smaller side and will require more frequent refills than other products on this list.
Price at time of publish: $19.99
Active Ingredients: Urea Peroxide | Treatment Length: 30 seconds, twice daily
Best for Sensitive Teeth: Lumineux Oral Essentials Ultra-Bright Pen 2-Pack
The twist-bottom is easy and intuitive to use, and the gel dispenses quickly.
In addition to whitening, this pen also helps prevent stains.
We found that with consistent use, it helped reduce plaque build-up, especially on our front teeth.
It comes in a convenient two-pack, so you won’t need to repurchase frequently.
It only brightened our teeth one shade, which is less drastic than some of the other options on this list.
Filter replacement can get relatively costly.
This pen was one of the easiest to grip and tidiest to use of the 13 that we tested. We love how the simple and speedy application can be done just about anywhere, as the pen is incredibly compact and there’s no brushing required — so you can touch up at your desk, during your commute, or anywhere in between.
The product dispenses quickly and the brush is the perfect size for precise application, allowing you to apply the gel into every corner and crevice of your mouth. We appreciated that the gel dissolved quickly as well, and didn’t leave any unpleasant residue and never caused the slightest hint of tooth or gum sensitivity.
A huge draw of the Lumineux Bright Pen is that it also aids with stain prevention: Just swipe it on and let it set for 30 minutes before drinking coffee, tea, or red wine in order to minimize any potential discoloration. We even found that it helped reduce plaque build up, particularly on our front teeth.
Price at time of publish: $54.98
Active Ingredients: Coconut oil, carboxymethyl | Treatment Length: 30 seconds for stain prevention, 30 minutes for whitening, use daily
Best for Quick Results: Tarte Pearly Girl Vegan Teeth Whitening Pen
The minty flavor leaves your mouth with a clean, tingling sensation.
It’s designed for sensitive teeth, and we didn’t experience any discomfort during use.
Our teeth were visibly brighter in the immediate aftermath of using the pen.
While the directions don’t say to rinse your mouth afterwards, the gel leaves a residue that we found unpleasant to leave on our teeth after use.
In our testing, it performed better for short-term brightening than for long-term whitening.
Whether you’re preparing to snap a selfie, head out on a date or nail your next job interview, it’s always a confidence boost to feel like your smile is at its best and brightest. Tarte’s whitening pen gets the job done in a major way, immediately brightening teeth after just one application.
This is an ideal pen for anyone looking for a quick fix or to mitigate coffee stains (it can be used up to four times a day). Those searching for a more drastic whitening pen should look elsewhere on this list, as we found that our teeth only whitened one shade with repeated use.
We found the soft brush easy to hold and to apply, which requires only 30 seconds of smiling to keep your lips away from your teeth as the gel adheres. The minty taste is refreshing, but does leave a gooey residue if you don’t rinse afterwards.
Price at time of publish: $25
Active Ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide | Treatment Length: 15 minutes, up to four times daily
Best for Touch-ups: Made by Dentists Teeth Whitening Pen
It’s super lightweight and compact, making this a great portable solution for when you need to touch-up on the go.
The pen helped to even out the color of our teeth to a more uniform shade.
We found that this pen was more effective for temporary touch-ups than for longterm whitening.
You need to rinse out the product and brush your teeth after use, which makes it a bit less portable than other options on this list.
Hydrogen peroxide is the active ingredient in this whitening pen, which helps to break down stains without causing tooth sensitivity or harming enamel. We loved the featherweight design, which made it a breeze to stash in our pockets or bags for easy use throughout the day.
It only requires 5 minutes to set, which is easy enough to maintain during bathroom breaks at work — it does need to be rinsed and brushed off afterwards, though, so you’ll need sink access.
The pen was particularly effective at targeting dark spots, helping to achieve a more uniform brightness immediately after use — making this an ideal portable companion for days when you’ll want to touch-up your smile while out and about.
Price at time of publish: $24.49
Active Ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide | Treatment Length: 5 minutes, daily
Best for Travel: Smileactives Teeth Whitening Pen
There’s no need to brush or rinse your teeth, so you can bring the pen with you wherever you’re heading.
Application is lightning fast, requiring just 45-60 seconds of letting the gel set — then voilà!
The minty flavor causes a tingling sensation that some may find unpleasant.
The gel leaves a slight lingering aftertaste.
With 1.13 oz. of gel, this slim pen packs some major whitening power. We used it twice daily for three weeks and found that there was still plenty of product leftover, so you won’t have to refill it frequently — plus, the pack comes with two pens, so you can keep one at home and take the other with you for daily touch-ups. It’s a dream for travelers who are looking to pack light, as it takes up next-to-no space and is easy to apply on a plane, train, or anywhere else, and can easily be tucked into a toiletry bag.
We noticed our teeth looking brighter after just two days of use, and experienced more drastic results that were visible in person and in photos after about a week. While it felt a bit awkward to hold our mouths open while the gel set (45-60 seconds is recommended for best results), we appreciated that there was no need to rinse afterwards. However, the minty aftertaste may not appeal to everyone, and you may prefer to spit it out to avoid discomfort from swallowing it.
Price at time of publish: $31.45
Active Ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide | Treatment Length: 45-60 seconds, two to four times daily
Best for Rinse-Free: GLO Science GLO To Go Teeth Whitening Pen
We noticed our teeth looked shinier right away after applying the gel.
The pen is incredibly easy to use and doesn’t require any brushing or rinsing.
The rubber-tipped applicator may not appeal to everyone, but we’ve got plenty of brush options elsewhere on this list.
You need to wait 20 minutes to eat or drink after use.
This button-base applicator couldn’t be easier to use — just click, apply, and you’re good to go! There’s no need to twist the base in order to dispense the product, and it only requires 30 seconds of smiling in order to set.
While it’s not recommended to eat or drink for 20 minutes after use, you can otherwise continue on with your day without worrying about brushing or rinsing your teeth. We did notice a slight residue after use, which some people may prefer to brush off — but for those who are always on the move, this is an excellent pick.
We loved the cinna-minty flavor, which left our mouth feeling clean and fresh. The rubber-tipped applicator was also straightforward to use, although some may prefer the softer feel and precision of a brush.
Beyond helping you achieve whiter teeth, Glo donates 5 percent of their profits to their Glo Good Foundation, which provides those in need with free dental care — giving you a little something extra to smile about.
Price at time of publish: $25
Active Ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide | Treatment Length: 20 minutes, twice daily
Things to Consider Before Buying Teeth Whitening Pens
Teeth whitening pens feature active ingredients that are designed to target stains with delicate precision. “It’s most important to look for products that contain hydrogen or carbamide peroxide, as this is the only ingredient to truly whiten teeth from the inside,” says Dr. Saad. Hydrogen peroxide is known to cause less sensitivity, as it breaks down into water and oxygen after application.
Carbamide peroxide (a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and urea) is frequently used but contains higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, which can create more dramatic results but also cause slightly more discomfort.
Others rely on more natural ingredients, including coconut oil — but still require some form of peroxide. “Beware of many ‘whitening’ products on the market that work by acting as an abrasive (i.e. charcoal toothpaste) which can be damaging to your enamel, or ‘all-natural’ products which don’t contain the necessary peroxide ingredient,” Dr. Saad says.
Gentle bristle-brushes are typically used in teeth whitening pens, as they are slim and flexible enough to aid with more precise application. These help to ensure the gel is comfortably and evenly distributed across each tooth. Silicone applicators are another option, however, they don’t offer as much precision and can cause slightly more discomfort for those with sensitive teeth or gums.
While all teeth whitening pens are generally compact and portable, the amount of gel inside can vary, and in turn can affect how often you’ll need to re-purchase them. Each pen will state how many uses it’s designed for, although in our testing we found that many had enough gel to far outlast the time frame suggested.
Pens with higher concentrations of peroxide will require less gel per application, so a little tends to go a long way. Other products include multiple pens per pack, which tends to be a more convenient and better value buy, as it means you’ll have to purchase them less frequently.
How We Tested
We tested 13 teeth whitening pens from top-rated brands in order to narrow down a list of those we ranked most effective, easy-to-use, and which caused the least gum sensitivity. We received expert guidance from New York City-based cosmetic dentist Dr. Lena Varone, DMD, FIADFE, in planning out our rigorous testing steps.
In order to test each teeth whitening pen in our lab, we took careful note of their “before” teeth shade in accordance with a standard dental shade guide. Before beginning the whitening process, we noted whether or not the instructions required us to brush our teeth first. After, we carefully applied the provided gel to our teeth, paying close attention to how comfortable and intuitive it felt to hold the pen in our hand during use. Then, we allowed the gel to set for the recommended amount of time before rinsing it or allowing it to dissolve, per the instructions.
After the first round of testing, we noted any lingerie sensitivity or discomfort, as well as if there was any sticky gel residue left in our mouths.
To see how the pens would work in the real world, we then tested the pens at home daily for the remainder of the testing period, making careful observations about any changes in shade or sensitivity along the way. After our testing period, we rated each whitening pen on a scale of one to five, with five performing the highest. The 10 pens with the top average scores made this list and earned the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do teeth whitening pens really work?
Yes! “Teeth whitening pens can provide a more gentle alternative to professional whitening,” explains Dr. Baker, who adds that while they won’t necessarily work overnight, they can produce visible results with a bit of patience. “It may take a little longer to see results since the concentration of the active ingredient is lower, but it will still whiten teeth.” She recommends teeth whitening pens in particular for patients with teeth sensitivity.
“Any whitening product containing hydrogen or carbamide peroxide will whiten your teeth,” adds Dr. Saad, who notes, “the degree of whitening depends on the strength of peroxide and the modality of peroxide carrier.”
Are teeth whitening pens or strips better?
For those with sensitive teeth, whitening pens are a better choice than whitening strips as they are more gentle and use a lower concentration of active ingredients like peroxides.
“Strips are better for people who want quicker results, because the ingredients simply stay on the teeth better when there is something covering the tooth,” explains Dr. Baker. “With the gel [from the pen], it stays on the teeth but gets washed away by saliva quicker.”
How quickly can yellow teeth get white again?
This ultimately comes down to your lifestyle, explains Dr. Baker. “Oral hygiene, diet, medications and health history all play a role in how white the teeth are,” she says. She adds that anyone who often drinks beverages or eats foods that would stain a white T-shirt — think coffee, tea, red wine, or turmeric-heavy dishes — will experience less drastic results using a whitening pen.
For longer-lasting results, she suggests swishing with water after you eat or drink any of those types of drinks or dishes to help prevent staining.
She adds that teeth can be lightened much faster with a professional in-office whitening session, which is the most effective whitening option. But for those concerned with cost or potential sensitivity, teeth whitening pens are great alternatives.
“With consistency you can achieve a white smile with whitening pens,” says Dr. Baker. Dr. Saad adds that “after reaching ideal brightness and assuming good oral hygiene, you can expect to need a touch up in 6 to 12 months.”
Why Trust PEOPLE?
Sophie Dodd is a PEOPLE contributor who has been writing for People.com since 2018. She covers travel and lifestyle, with a focus on homegoods and beauty products. For this story, Sophie did a deep dive into the results of our teeth whitening testing and used her expertise as a commerce and lifestyle writer to research the products that scored the highest in order to narrow down this list. She also received advice from North Carolina-based dentist Dr. Britany L. Baker, DMD, and Orange County-based cosmetic dentist Dr. Shahira Saad, DDS, on what to look for when shopping for teeth whitening pens.
What is PEOPLE Tested?
We created the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval to help you find the very best products for your life. We use our unique methodology to test products in three labs across the country and with our network of home testers to determine their effectiveness, durability, ease of use, and so much more. Based on the results, we rate and recommend products so you can find the right one for your needs.
But we don’t stop there: We also regularly re-review the categories in which we’ve awarded the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval — because the best product of today might not be the best of tomorrow. And by the way, companies can never buy our recommendation: Their products must earn it, fair and square.
In short, PEOPLE Tested provides recommendations you can trust — every day, every purchase.
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Read the original article on People.