Whether you're looking for a touch-up in between teeth cleanings or want to prep for a special event, there are plenty of options for at-home teeth whitening these days. You can go for something tried-and-true like special toothpaste or strips, or you can get bleaching trays from your dentist. And now you can even do the LED technology treatments that you'd normally get from your dentist in the comfort of your own home.
In general, using LED lights to whiten teeth speeds up the process. "LED lights (or light-emitting diode lights) work to accelerate the reaction of the bleach product on the teeth. The LED light itself will not whiten teeth," explains Kate Zoumboukos, DMD, of SW Austin Dental.
This might be a good option if you're looking for something a little stronger than the regular over-the-counter strips and whitening toothpaste. Intrigued? I asked the experts for more information.
Who Can Use LED Teeth Whitening?
Brian Harris, DDS, who's known as The Virtual Dentist, says that, in general, LED teeth whitening should be safe for all adult users. "Tooth sensitivity is usually where the concern is and is usually caused by the whitening solution," he explains. "The key is to use products with tooth sensitivity in mind like Snow whitening products or other over-the-counter solutions. People with extreme sensitivity or weakened enamel should consult their dental professional first."
Zoumboukos also says you should be careful if you have sensitive gums: "In some cases, the light and bleach combination can aggravate underlying sensitivity!"
And as for any side effects, it really depends on your specific set of teeth. "Tooth sensitivity and gingival irritation are the two most common side effects," Zoumboukos adds. So again, if you know you have sensitive teeth or gums, chat with your doctor.
How Does At-Home LED Teeth Whitening Differ From In-Office Treatments?
Harris says the at-home kits are often less expensive and more convenient and still offer great results. But of course, there are differences from getting it done professionally. "There are key differences between using at-home LED whitening systems versus in-office light-based whitening systems," Zoumboukos says. "Typically, office products differ in the concentration of bleach, type of bleach, and type of light system. Many of the in-office bleaching systems use higher concentrations of bleach. One study cited that 'light-activated in-office bleaching improved immediate whitening effect.'"
At-Home Best Practices
First, it's important to note that the American Dental Association has not given its Seal of Acceptance to any at-home LED whitening kits just yet. Zoumboukos says that the process takes time, as products are thoroughly evaluated. "Current independent research in support of LED at-home whitening systems is not widely available. More studies are required to determine the effectiveness and overall value of these products," she adds.
But if you want to give it a whirl, make sure you discuss it with your dentist first. "If you have had dental treatment in the past, ask your dentist how the bleaching may affect your smile or your risk of getting post-operative sensitivity. Go slow in the beginning, and stop use if pain or sensitivity develops," she says.
As for how to choose the right kit for you, you can ask your dentist first. Harris also suggests looking at the reviews. "Consumers are very vocal about what they like and they don't, which is great for a customer looking to try something new," he says. When it comes to using the kit, follow the directions carefully. Harris recommends using it regularly for the best results because consistency is key.
Take a look at some kit options below.
The LED light on this device has five bulbs for more power and a timer beeper so you can keep track of your whitening sessions. Each kit includes two gel syringes, which equals 20-plus whitening treatments.
What a reviewer says: "I won't lie, I didn't notice a huge difference after the first use, BUT my teeth were noticeably whiter after the third use, and have continued to get whiter with every use since then. This is the only whitening product that has worked for me, and I will definitely continue to use it."
Glo's mouthpiece uses both heat and LED technology to whiten the teeth quickly. Each session just takes eight minutes to whiten your teeth. Plus, it also connects wirelessly to an app so you can track your whitening treatments and your progress.
What a reviewer says: "My teeth were stained and yellow and this really whitened them. It is so easy to use and I really enjoyed the fact that it has Bluetooth. The whitening process is very simple and I do it in my spare time. The whitening gel isn't irritating and it doesn't taste bad. Overall great whitening product!"
Crest pretty much changed the at-home teeth-whitening game with its Whitestrips, so it's not surprising that the brand also has an LED option. The kit comes with 10 whitening strips and an LED-powered mouthpiece. To use, just apply the strips and position the light and leave on for 60 minutes.
What a reviewer says: "This kit has served as my introduction to using whitening strips and it has worked wonders for me. My teeth are now a shade or two whiter thanks to this."
The whitening gel pens make it so easy to apply to your teeth with precision. And the device has 20 LED lights for even faster treatments—just five minutes. It's also powered by your phone.
What a reviewer says: "I've always used whitening strips and was known for my sparkling white teeth. However, it destroyed my enamel and made my teeth super sensitive. After so many different whitening choices available on here I finally just picked this one hoping for the best. My oh my! Super impressed. I haven't even used it for a full week (regularly) and I already see a difference."
This at-home treatment won't take too much of your time—just nine minutes. The kit comes with whitening gels and a USB-powered mouthpiece—and within each kit, you can get about 75 whitening treatments, which sounds like a total deal.
What a reviewer says: "I have tried different whitening products and some cause my gums to be kinda sensitive. I have been eyeballing this product for a while and looked at reviews closely and I will say I love it! I have used it for going on two weeks and my teeth haven't been sensitive at all. My teeth are whiter."
This 360-degree LED light device will make sure every nook and cranny of your smile is whitened. It even has regular and gentle modes so you can adjust based on how sensitive your teeth are. It also comes with foaming whitening toothpaste so you can use it in conjunction to speed up the whitening process.
What a reviewer says: "My teeth were whiter in two days noticeably. My smile just looks so much cleaner and brighter! Used a whitening formula with the tray and they're filming toothpaste with the brush. Good quality."
You can remove stains from coffee, wine, soda, and smoking with this whitening kit. The manufacturer says if you use it 10 minutes a day for seven days, you should see some results.
What a reviewer says: "I actually saw the results today! Caught a glimpse in the mirror and did a double-take. I mean, it's not Ross Gellar-bright, but after five days I see a noticeable difference that I honestly didn't expect. Be careful with your first use, it’s really easy to over-apply the gel. You don’t need a lot of it. I definitely recommend!"
With this whitening kit, you get upper and lower trays, six whitening gel doses, two vitamin E sticks to clean up any excess gel, and the LED light. The upper and lower trays are key here because they allow you to customize your fit.
What a reviewer says: "Instant results. Better than anything I’ve ever used. I am very sensitive and I didn’t have any issues."
More At-Home Teeth-Whitening Options
If you're looking for a natural option, you can use this whitening toothpaste from Tom's of Maine. It fights tartar buildup and contains fluoride to prevent cavities.
This minty toothpaste protects against tooth decay, plaque, and bad breath while also whitening any surface stains.