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Best teeth whitening gel 2023: Brighten your smile from just £2.85 a day

From charcoal strips to gel-filled syringes, shine up your pearly whites with our pick of the best teeth whitening gels

If you’ve missed a few dentist appointments recently, your teeth may have lost a bit of their shine. Our favourite eating and drinking habits can contribute to discoloured teeth – particularly coffee, red wine and tobacco – but the best DIY whitening gel kits allow you to whiten your teeth in the comfort of your own home, so you can potentially avoid pricier treatments at the dentist.

Alongside powders, toothpaste and even activated charcoal, teeth whitening gels are a popular choice, as they involve both speedy application and immediately noticeable results. You can either opt for sticky strips with the gel pre-applied or fill a moulded mouth tray with a pre-measured amount of gel.

We’ve put together a guide to the best teeth whitening gels below, along with some information about what to look for in whitening kits.

Best teeth whitening gel: At a glance

  • Best LED teeth whitening gel: Dr Dent | Buy now
  • Best dentist-recommended option: Spotlight Oral Care | Buy now
  • Best hydrogen peroxide-free whitening gel: Mr Bright | Buy now
  • Best charcoal whitening gel strips: Pro Teeth Whitening Co | Buy now
  • Best teeth whitening gel for dark stains: iWhite | Buy now

How to choose the best teeth whitening gel for you

Are over-the-counter kits as good as ones you get from the dentist?

Sadly, no. Home whitening pales in comparison to the dentist’s version, often because over-the-counter kits don’t contain enough whitening product to actually be effective. The NHS also points out that because the mouthguards provided in these kits aren’t custom-fitted, there’s a chance the whitening gel can leak into your mouth. Be aware, too, that getting your teeth whitened at a beauty salon by staff without dental qualifications puts your oral health at risk.

How do I apply the gel to my teeth?

Pre-gelled strips: These are the easiest form of application. Make sure your teeth are as dry as possible, then apply the strip directly and leave for the time directed, usually for around 20-30 minutes.

Fillable trays: Mouth trays are a bit more labour intensive, as you’ll need to fill the tray with a pre-measured amount of gel from a tube or syringe. Some are attached to LED blue lights to help activate the whitening product. As most of these trays are one-size-fits-all, it’s important to check the fit before applying the gel, because if it’s too loose the gel could spill out.

Both of these application methods are one-use products, as the whitening agents in the gel won’t work a second time. There may be some gel residue left on your teeth after application too, but you can simply rinse out your mouth with lukewarm water and it should wash off.

How long will it last?

Teeth whitening gels aren’t permanent. Depending on the kit you use, results can last for around four months after finishing the treatment. Some gels are primarily used to reduce stains on teeth instead of actively making them whiter – and if you smoke regularly, your teeth will probably stain again quickly. If you’re applying a gel regularly for two weeks or so, it’s also sensible to avoid dark coloured foods such as chocolate, as well as large quantities of tea or coffee to minimise staining.

Is it safe to use teeth whitening gel?

The gel used for whitening is typically a hydrogen peroxide-based gel, which is not the same as bleach – hence the word “whitening” instead of “bleaching”. The legal limit of hydrogen peroxide that UK dentists can use is between 0.1% and 6%, whereas home kits are only allowed to contain a maximum of 0.1%. As it’s a chemical, a product containing too high levels of hydrogen peroxide in your mouth does come with safety warnings: you risk burning your gums, harming tooth enamel and increasing sensitivity.

All the teeth whitening gels we’ve reviewed below have passed the requisite safety standards, but it’s advisable to speak to your dentist before using one, if only for your peace of mind.

READ NEXT: Check out our favourite teeth whitening strips

The best teeth whitening gel to buy in 2023

1. Dr Dent Premium Home Teeth Whitening Kit: Best LED teeth whitening gel

Price: £26 | Buy now from Amazon

This wonderfully named brand shouldn’t dent your confidence: its online reputation is a glowing one, with most customers saying the Dr Dent kit is easy to use and gives long-lasting results.

The kit includes three capped syringes each filled with 5ml of whitening gel, an LED blue light to accelerate the whitening process, and a mouth tray that’s made from silicone and is BPA free.

It’s easy to use, too. Once you’ve connected the LED and mouth tray together, fill the top and bottom parts of the tray with 1ml of gel (there are handy quarter markers on the syringe for this) then switch on the LED blue light and wear it for 20 to 30 minutes. Repeating the process every day for a week gives the best results.

The whitening gel itself has a rather nice mint flavour and, most importantly, doesn’t leave your teeth feeling overly sensitive. The resulting whiteness lasts for a good while, although some customers say Dr Dent is better for lifting pre-existing stains rather than achieving overall whiteness and brightness.

Key specs – Kit type: Mouth tray and gel tubes; Amount: 15 days’ worth

2. Spotlight Oral Care Teeth Whitening System strips: Best dentist-recommended whitening gel

Price: £40 | Buy now from Boots

We particularly appreciate the clear marketing of Spotlight whitening strips – it’s hard to miss the “active ingredient: hydrogen peroxide” written in big letters on the packaging. It’s also reassuring to know that the company is run by dentists, seeing as it recommends wearing these strips for a full hour – much longer than other products on our list.

Using these Spotlight strips couldn’t be easier: simply tear open the sachet, peel off the strip and apply to your teeth. The strips are especially sticky and adhere tightly, which helps the whitening agent to penetrate the tooth enamel.

At £40, Spotlight’s 14-day course of strips comes to £2.85 per day, with the added inclusion of a 100ml tube of whitening toothpaste (usually retailing for £9.50) to maintain your newly whitened teeth.

Key specs – Kit type: Gel strips; Amount: 14 days’ worth

Buy now from Boots

3. Mr Bright Home Teeth Whitening Kit: Best hydrogen peroxide-free teeth whitening gel

Price: £40 | Buy now from Amazon

The whitening gel from sunny-sounding Mr Bright is a safer option for those fearful of irritated gums, as there’s no hydrogen peroxide involved. Instead, the gel contains lots of natural ingredients: sodium bicarbonate to naturally whiten teeth, as well as aloe vera to moisturise the mouth and peppermint oil for a deliciously clean taste.

The Mr Bright kit comes with three gel-filled tubes, one LED light, a mouth tray and an instruction manual, all packed into a zippered case for easy portability.

It can be a little tricky to add just the right amount of gel: one-quarter’s worth of a tube should coat the inside surface of the mouth tray, so your teeth are touching the gel but there’s no contact with your gums. Switching on the LED light activates a ten-minute timer, so you can repeat the process three or four times per sitting.

You should see a change after just one application, but Mr Bright advises a two-week stretch to really get noticeable results.

Key specs – Kit type: Mouth tray and gel tubes; Amount: 14 days’ worth

4. Pro Teeth Whitening Co. Premium Dental Whitening Strips with Active Charcoal: Best charcoal whitening gel

Price: £20 | Buy now from Amazon

We’re particularly keen on charcoal strips as a natural alternative to hydrogen peroxide, and while it might sound counterintuitive for black charcoal to result in whiter teeth, these Pro Teeth whitening strips really do deliver.

The main prepping tip with these is to ensure your teeth are as dry as possible before applying, or the strips won’t stick properly. Use the straight strip for your upper teeth and the curved strip with a small folding portion for your bottom teeth, wait 30 minutes then peel off. There may be some black residue left behind, but a quick brush gets rid of it.

The pack has 14 sachets with two strips in each – either enough for a two-week whitening stint or a great lightweight option for popping in your bag and using while you’re travelling for a quick touch up.

Key specs – Kit type: Gel strips; Amount: 14 days’ worth

5. iWhite Instant Dark Stains Teeth Whitening Kit: Best for tea drinkers

Price: £35 | Buy now from Boots

The iWhite kit uses fancy-sounding ‘dark pigment absorption technology’ to specifically target stubborn dark stains from coffee, tea, red wine and tobacco.

Unlike the other options here, the iWhite gel is packed with carbon micropearls – actually a fancy descriptor for activated charcoal – and this absorbs and neutralises any existing dark stains, as well as preventing the same dark deposits in the future. Because of that charcoal element, the iWhite gel is also free from hydrogen peroxide – great news if you already have sensitive teeth or gums.

The iWhite kit includes ten mouth trays that are prefilled and ready to use, so you don’t have to worry about injecting gel into them. Pop the tray over your teeth for 20 minutes a day for a week and you should end up with a brighter smile.

Key spec – Kit Type: Pre-filled mouth trays; Amount: 10 days worth

Buy now from Boots

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