Best Teeth Whitening Pens
A bright smile is the key to unlocking your self-confidence. So it's not surprising that teeth whitening is gaining popularity for adults. But professional teeth whitening treatment can be expensive to maintain. Luckily, there are affordable options that you can purchase over the counter.
In this article, we'll highlight one of the most convenient DIY cosmetic teeth whitening products: teeth whitening pens. We've compiled details on the easiest-to-use and most effective pens on the market now. And we also provide information on insurance coverage for this whitening procedure.
Ready for some answers? Then read on.
How Teeth Whitening Pens Work
A teeth whitening pen is an on-the-go bleaching product that comes in the shape of, well, a pen or chapstick.
Teeth will naturally lose their brightness as you age. But brushing with fluoride toothpaste as an infant, using tetracycline (an antibiotic), and smoking tobacco could accelerate the fading process and create a yellow hue in the enamel1. Lifestyle factors also play a role in the shade of your smile. For example, red wines and coffee contain compounds called 'tannins' that cause dark stains on the tooth surface.
Like most bleaching products, teeth whitening pens use hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide to remove these superficial stains. The bleaching gel works by lifting the discolorations from your tooth surface.
Of course, whitening pens will work best for extrinsic stains because of their low peroxide concentrations. The Canadian and American Dental Association set laws to regulate the safety of these products. As a result, home-based bleaching devices usually contain no more than 10% peroxide concentrations. Whitening pens are capped at 30 to 35%, making them more effective for DIY bleaching (though still not as efficient for removing deeper discolorations).
An in-office teeth whitening kit is more potent and suitable for removing internal tooth stain, but they can only be applied by licensed and trained dental professionals. People often use whitening pens for touch-ups following an in-chair treatment.
Regardless, most whitening pens will achieve instant results and take full effect within the first two hours after application. One application could brighten your smile for up to two weeks, so long as you keep up your oral hygiene.
So, how do you use a teeth whitening pen? It's easy:
- Uncap the pen, then twist it back to release the bleaching tip.
- Apply a streak of the teeth whitening gel from the tip of the pen over your teeth (imagine you're coloring over your enamel). Remember to apply the gel to the corners of your teeth to produce a more natural, even look after whitening. But give at least a millimeter's allowance from your gum line to avoid tissue irritation from the bleaching chemicals. Better safe than sorry.
- Allow the whitening agent to set for at least 10 minutes. As the bleach activates, it will create a dry coat over your teeth which removes surface stains.
- The gel will dissolve on its own, leaving you with bright, pearly whites-no rinse needed! But we still recommend that you do some light brushing after the first couple of hours to remove any lingering film over your teeth.
Teeth whitening pens are generally safe to use. All bleaching agents - whether in whitening toothpaste, whitening kit, whitening strips, or the like - may cause temporary tooth sensitivity. However, the odds are low for whitening pens because of their low peroxide concentrations and easy application.
Whitening gel makes the tooth surface more porous or prone to chemical absorption, so it's easy to develop new stains directly after using your pen. As a result, you should also avoid eating any high-colored foods and condiments like;
- red wines
- carbonated beverages
- tomatoes and tomato sauce
The pigments in these foods will quickly undo the work of your bleaching device by creating new stains over your tooth enamel. As a precaution, it's best to restrict them from your diet for the first 24 to 48 hours after tooth bleaching.
It's also wise to read your labels before purchasing any at-home teeth whitening product. Despite dental association regulations, some manufacturers still use high peroxide concentrations (> 35%) in their whitening pens. These products can damage your enamel, making you more prone to developing stains.
Overusing whitening pens can have similar effects on your oral health. Most packages will advise you to apply the whitening gel no more than twice daily. Whitening pens may be convenient, but they're not meant for everyday use. Using bleaching products for more than 14 consecutive days can be harmful2.
A few whitening pens claim to work without using peroxide. They may use either baking soda or charcoal as alternatives, but these are highly abrasive particles that wear away at your tooth surface if you apply them regularly. Besides, peroxide-free pens typically have poor teeth whitening results and take much longer to create noticeable effects.
You should always consult your dentist before administering any bleaching products, especially if you have a history of brittle or sensitive teeth. And be mindful that whitening pens and other teeth whitener bleaching products do not affect dental restorations like crowns, veneers, and dentures.
Easiest to Use Teeth Whitening Pens
The easiest teeth whitening pens require minimal effort to apply. Whitening pens are generally convenient, but you might spend more time coating your tooth enamel or keeping your teeth dry and free from saliva. An easy-to-use pen is an excellent tool if you're looking to brighten your smile at the last minute before a photoshoot or an important meeting.
Here are our top picks for the easiest-to-use and best teeth whitening pens on the market:
It seems like Colgate created this whitening pen with hyper-salivation in mind. You can apply the gel before bedtime, and it takes effect while you sleep. This is great because you won't have to worry about keeping your teeth dry or saliva-free during treatment. You'll be waking up to a bright smile in the morning-just remember to rinse before breakfast.
This whitening pen comes with a soft-bristled brush for a quick and mess-free gel application. It also leaves you with minty-fresh breath to complement your attractive smile. The gel is dermatologist tested for artificial fragrances and harmful ingredients like triclosan. Vegans can feel safe using this non-dairy and soy-free dental product.
Unlike other whitening pens that use a brush applicator, GLO to Go has a swipe-and-go tip that glides over your teeth. There's no need to stand in the mirror to paint each tooth carefully. You'll be able to brighten your smile literally within seconds (30 to be exact). The pen comes with an antimicrobial tip to ensure that you're always using a clean applicator whenever you need a touch-up.
Diamond Beauty's extra strength formula is perfect for coffee drinkers looking to remove dark stains on their tooth surface. The company says this version of their whitening line is "fast, affordable, and most importantly, pain-free to accomplish those teeth-whitening touch-ups." Customers are raving about how gentle the gel is on their sensitive teeth!
AsaVea's whitening pen is popular for achieving 4 to 8 shades of whiter teeth in at least a minute. The gel is formulated with natural ingredients that protect your enamel from corrosion and sensitivity. And the pen comes in a transparent design so you can measure the amount of gel you have left, which is great if you like to purchase refills in advance.
Most Effective Teeth Whitening Pens
Whitening pens with 35% hydrogen peroxide are generally stronger and more effective at whitening teeth. You might notice peroxide-free pens sold online. Some people prefer these because they don't cause immediate tooth sensitivity. But in reality, peroxide-free whitening products use abrasive ingredients like baking soda and charcoal, which wear away the enamel after repeated use.
Conversely, the most effective whitening pens contain lab-tested chemicals to protect the enamel and prevent dental sensitivity despite their peroxide concentrations. Their results also last longer than other whitening pens that use weaker bleaching agents.
Take a look at our list of the most effective whitening pens available now:
The Auroglow pen contains up to 15 whitening treatments, each with the strength to brighten your smile in under a minute. You can get up to 10 shades of whiter teeth by applying the gel twice daily for one week. Sounds too good to be true? No worries-the product is also clinically approved to whiten teeth without causing sensitivity or irritation.
Smile Direct Club is famous for its invisible aligner services. And the company is taking oral health to the next level with its LED light accelerated teeth whitening pens. This kit comes with a year's worth of whitening treatments (8 pens and an at-home curing light), but one week of application is enough to brighten your smile for up to 6 months!
As the name indicates, this is a ready-to-go whitening pen. The device uses a soft brush that coats your enamel evenly for a natural finish. The best part? The gel dissolves on its own without leaving any sticky residue over your teeth! With this, you can achieve a brighter smile by 5 shades after just one week.
Teeth Whitening Pens and Dental Insurance Coverage
Most insurance providers will not cover teeth whitening and other purely aesthetic dental procedures. Dental bridges and crowns are also cosmetic, but they usually meet insurance requirements as essential dental restorations.
You might be able to save some money with a Cosmetic Dental Insurance company. However, these plans are unlikely to cover teeth whitening pens since you don't need a prescription to purchase them. It's best to ask your coverage provider to confirm their list of eligible dental procedures so you can prepare for any costs you'll need to absorb.
1. Epple, M., Meyer, F., & Enax, J. (2019). A Critical Review of Modern Concepts for Teeth Whitening. Dentistry Journal, 7(3), 79. https://doi.org/10.3390/dj7030079
2. Fearon, J. (2007). Tooth whitening: concepts and controversies. Journal of the Irish Dental Association, 53(3), 132–140.