Are you considering using a home teeth whitening kit to brighten up your smile? If so, you're certainly not alone. There are all kinds of things that can cause our teeth to become discoloured. Everyday foods and drinks like tea, coffee, wine, sauces and berries are just a few of the main culprits.
But how do you know which is the best teeth whitening kit for you?
The teeth whitening industry has boomed in recent years and there is now a huge variety of whitening products and treatments available in the UK. And while it's nice to have options, this choice can be overwhelming if you're new to it all.
It's great that you're here to do some research before deciding how to whiten your teeth. With the recent crackdown on beauticians and other untrained individuals performing whitening treatments illegally, people are becoming more concerned about finding a safe (and legal) way to get a whiter smile.
In this article we explain why home whitening kits are such a popular option for people dissatisfied with the shade of their teeth. You'll be able to compare the cost and effectiveness of some of the best at-home teeth whitening kits in the UK for 2021 with reviews to make your decision easier. Finally, we offer some advice on how to prepare for teeth whitening at home and care for your teeth afterwards.
Best Home Teeth Whitening Kits
Table of contents
- 1 Ways to make your teeth whiter
- 2 Best teeth whitening kits in the UK for 2021
- 3 How do teeth whitening kits work?
- 4 UK teeth whitening kits comparison
- 5 Teeth whitening kits from the dentist
- 6 Things to consider before doing home whitening
- 7 Conclusion
Ways to make your teeth whiter
There are many whitening products and treatments available to try. Some are performed in a dentist's office while others can be bought over-the-counter or online to use at home. Choosing the right one for you will come down to two main factors: how much you want to spend and how drastic you want the results to be.
Whitening toothpastes are the cheapest option but they are abrasive to teeth and prolonged use can cause sensitivity. Results are mild and only last for as long as you are using the product.
On the other end of the scale, you can visit your dentist for whitening treatment using advanced laser technology. Although this delivers impressive results with just one visit, the cost of treatment can easily exceed £1,000 (but you might find cheaper teeth whitening abroad). There is also a risk that you'll end up with dazzling white teeth that just look weird.
Cheaper yet effective: best way to whiten teeth on a budget
Somewhere in the middle, offering a balance between price and results is the option of a teeth whitening kit. Available in many high-street chemists as well as online, these kits can produce good, lasting results after 1-2 weeks' use.
Most teeth whitening kits cost £20 – £80 in the UK. More expensive options usually have stronger gel, better quality ingredients, or more components included. They are much cheaper than visiting a dentist and offer the added benefit of allowing you to do your teeth whitening at home, when it suits you.
But even if you have decided to whiten your teeth at home with one of these kits, you're still faced with many options. Should you go for a kit that uses an LED light? Which kind of mouth tray is easiest to use? Should you supplement your whitening with other products like toothpaste, mouthwash or a whitening pen? And how can you be sure it's safe to use?
We're focusing on the best home teeth whitening kits in the UK here, but if you're interested in other ways to whiten your teeth you should check out our complete guide to teeth whitening as well. This covers other methods like teeth whitening strips and pens as well as professional treatments carried out at the dentist. There is even a section on natural whitening techniques for those who would rather try a chemical-free approach.
We also have a separate teeth whitening cost guide, in case you want to compare prices for all the different whitening methods available.
Best teeth whitening kits in the UK for 2021
To start with, let's look at three of the best teeth whitening kits available in the UK. You will see:
- How they work
- What each kit contains
- Pros and cons
- Any unique features
This information will help you make up your mind about which is the best whitening kit for you. We've also included excerpts from real home teeth whitening kit reviews so you can see what other people thought of their results.
Plus, we've got exclusive discount codes for some of these whitening kits to make them even more affordable.
#1 Smile Avenue
Why have we selected this as the best teeth whitening kit in the UK right now?
Smile Avenue Professional Teeth Whitening Kit is a highly rated product that is well established in the UK market. This kit is made in the US with high-quality ingredients, including PAP and remineralizing hydroxyapatite. Its gentle gel formula produces visible results in 1-2 weeks (or less, according to some reviewers), and you can check your progress with the shade guide provided.
It's very easy and safe to use, since you paint the gel directly onto your teeth. This makes it more precise than whitening kits where you apply the gel to the mouthpiece using a syringe.
Since you get four pens of whitening gel in this kit, it will last for up to two complete courses of treatment, depending on how quickly you see results. Each pen is good for 6-7 applications. Refills are available too, so you can repeat your treatment later without having to buy a whole new kit.
The fixed-shape mouth tray is easy to use, and has built-in LED lights (rather than an exterior one) for better coverage. It conveniently plugs into your phone or laptop, and there are no batteries to worry about.
Smile Avenue's teeth whitening kit reviews are generally very positive in the UK as well as in France, where it first launched. Here's what some users have to say about it:
“I’ve tried several teeth whitening kits and this is going to be my new go-to now. It’s really easy to use…”
“I have not completed the recommended 14 days of treatment yet but I already feel that the improvement is visible. I am very satisfied with this purchase and the ease of use of the kit.”
“I purchased this Smile Avenue kit with it being made in the USA and product of France. I am impressed with the results so far. I have used the kit for 6 days and I have seen my teeth 3 shades whiter and I have plenty more of the product left too.”-Smile Avenue Teeth Whitening Kit reviews
View our full review of Smile Avenue to learn more about why we've selected it as the best at-home teeth whitening kit for 2021.
To make this kit even better value for money, you can get 10% off Smile Avenue for a limited time, as well as free shipping, by using the code DENTA10 when you buy on their website. Click below to get started!
#2 Snow Teeth Whitening
Snow professional teeth whitening systems are produced in the USA and use hydrogen and carbamide peroxide in a formula designed to be suitable for sensitive teeth. Rather than applying the gel using mouth trays, Snow's revolutionary system lets you paint the serum directly onto your teeth. This means it uses a lot less gel and there is no risk of it squirting out and damaging your gums.
Included in the basic Snow home whitening kit is:
- A mouthpiece with built-in LED lights
- 3 Whitening wands (1 wand = 21 treatments)
- 1 Extra-strength whitening wand
- Teeth whitening progress tracker
They also make a wireless kit which has been described as “the Apple of teeth whitening” thanks to its proprietary technology which uses an app to track your progress. It's hard to cram all the features into this short description, but you can check out our full write-up of Snow for more details.
You should get results from this kit in as little as 9 minutes per day, but it's safe to use for up to 30 minutes per session if you want stronger results. You can even use it twice a day to accelerate your whitening. A single course of treatment lasts 21 days, and these kits come with enough serum for 4 treatment courses – that's a year's worth of whitening.
So, although Snow is certainly not the cheapest teeth whitening kit around, it does give great value for money if you're prepared to invest a bit up-front for long-lasting results. The mouthpiece comes with a 5-year warranty and you can purchase refills via their website whenever you need to.
Another of the best home teeth whitening kits – especially if you want to spend as little as possible – is the SMILE:KIT from SMILE:NOW. It uses a more rudimentary system where you apply the gel to a fixed-shape mouthpiece before inserting it into your mouth, but most people still get good results. Plus, it's made in Britain for quality assurance.
SMILE:NOW's whitening gel contains PAP, just like Smile Avenue, but without hydroxyapatite for enamel remineralisation. You get enough for 14 treatments and use it for 20 minutes per day. The LEDs are external, rather than built into the mouthpiece, which may make them slightly less effective.
“Very impressed with this product… It has improved my teeth. I was very self-conscious as they have been stained by tea and coffee and this has given me a lot of confidence! It’s very easy to use and can be worked out within 2 minutes not complicated at all! It has a lovely mint taste to it which makes it pleasant to use as it takes 20 minutes to use it,” says one Amazon reviewer.
Others don't get such good results, but the satisfaction guarantee means anyone unhappy with their results may request a full refund.
Although this is a cheap teeth whitening kit, you should keep in mind that it only has enough gel for 14 treatments and no refills are available. If you're planning to whiten your teeth regularly, you'll probably find that Smile Avenue is better value – plus it uses a more advanced gel formula.
What about the Insta-famous kits you've probably seen plastered all over social media? Often all that really differentiates them is the ingredients in the gel, the price, and the celebrities that are paid to endorse them.
There may not be anything intrinsically wrong with these whitening kits, in fact many users are happy with their results. But big marketing budgets have to be funded somehow, and that's usually reflected in the price of the kits.
Also make sure you compare the kit contents so you can see what value they offer. Cheaper kits often have less gel for fewer treatments, which means you'll be forking out for a new kit or refills much sooner. This means they are not the best teeth whitening products for people who want to maintain their brighter smile long-term.
Click on the links below if you want to see our reviews of these other teeth whitening products and check how they compare – but to save you the time, we can say that Smile Avenue is still our top pick after reviewing all of these:
How do teeth whitening kits work?
Although the individual components of home whitening kits vary, the principle behind them is the same: you apply a bleaching gel to your teeth for a certain amount of time each day.
A mouth tray protects your teeth and keeps the gel on them during treatment. Most kits available in 2021 have external or built-in LEDs, which help accelerate the whitening process.
The gel seeps through your tooth enamel to whiten the layer of dentin below. Dentin is naturally a darker yellow colour, which is why our teeth aren't perfectly white in the first place.
Your whitening kit will include instructions to tell you how much gel to use, how long to leave the trays in for, and how often to repeat the treatment. The timings are all dependent on the ingredients used in the products, and you should follow the manufacturer's instructions closely.
Different application methods
Some teeth whitening kits come with a thermoforming mouth tray, which you place in boiling water before moulding it to the shape of your teeth. These are intended to mimic the custom mouth trays you have made at the dentist, but in reality, they are fiddly and don't always work well.
Other kits come with a fixed-shape tray. Although easier to use, the downside is that these don't fit so closely to your teeth and may give uneven gel coverage.
To get the best of both worlds, go with a more modern kit like Smile Avenue or Snow which lets you apply the gel directly onto your teeth with a brush. This ensures even coverage, is more economical and stops the gel from squirting all over your gums.
Keep in mind that a more expensive kit won't necessarily produce the best tooth whitening results. Cheap teeth whitening kits can be just as effective if used properly, but the process itself may be less enjoyable.
The whiteness of teeth is measured using a colour scale. In dental surgeries, you may see a row of what look like teeth in different shades of white and yellow. Dentists use these to check your original tooth colour and measure how many shades of whitening you have achieved.
The best home whitening kits come with a shade guide which you can hold up to your teeth to assess the change in colour. Without this it can be hard to measure success since our teeth can appear different shades in different lights.
You might see promises such as “makes teeth 8 shades brighter”, but in reality, your individual results will vary depending on the condition of your teeth. If you have quite yellow teeth to begin with, you might notice a more drastic difference.
Don't be tempted to use whitening trays or other products for longer than stated on the packet. You might think this will give you whiter teeth faster, but in fact, it could leave white blotches on your teeth. Similarly, over-filling the trays with more than the recommended amount of product could cause it to leak out and damage other parts of your mouth.
Over-whitening can also lead to your teeth losing their healthy shine and instead becoming dull and chalky white, so it's best to aim for a modest improvement at first.
Are teeth whitening kits safe?
Any teeth whitening products you buy from a reputable high-street pharmacy should be safe to use. If you look online, though, you'll find numerous other options on offer. Products sold in other countries are regulated in different ways so it can be harder to know whether these are completely safe to use for teeth whitening at home.
Firstly, you can check the percentage of hydrogen peroxide in the bleaching agent. EU regulations limit the peroxide content to 0.1% in home teeth whitening products sold in the UK. Dentists are allowed to use whitening products containing up to 6% peroxide, which is why their treatments are more effective (and expensive!).
In the US, regulations are not so strict and home whitening products usually contain 3-10% hydrogen peroxide.
Other ingredients are not so closely regulated but any kits produced in the UK, the EU or the US have to conform to higher standards than some other countries where the focus is on low-cost production.
Although the gel used in home whitening kits is much weaker than that used by dentists, there is still a risk of injury to gums and cheeks if the product leaks out of the trays. Kits with trays that mould to the shape of your teeth can reduce this risk, although some people find these trays difficult to use.
Some of the top teeth whitening kits in the UK now use a system where the gel is applied directly to the teeth in a thin layer. This helps reduce the risk of any excess gel squirting onto your gums.
Before going ahead with any kind of whitening it's a good idea to speak to your dentist first. Teeth bleaching kits may be unsuitable for people with gum disease or dental crowns, and if you have any tooth decay the bleaching agent can get to your nerves more easily, causing sensitivity or pain. Your dentist will be able to advise you of any potential risks at your next checkup.
UK teeth whitening kits comparison
Now that you understand more about the different elements of a home whitening kit, here's a reminder of the three products we featured earlier as the best home teeth whitening kits in the UK right now. The following table lets you easily compare these at-home whitening systems side by side:
Hydrogen & Carbamide Peroxide
Number of applications included
Around 80 (4 full courses)
Approx. price per application
Where to buy
Teeth whitening kits from the dentist
If you're not sure about a DIY teeth whitening kit but you don't have the cash for expensive laser whitening, another option is to purchase a professional teeth whitening kit directly from your dentist.
Brands like Enlighten and Boutique are only available from licenced dentists. They are peroxide teeth whitening kits with stronger bleaching gels and therefore require professional instruction and supervision.
Your dentist will first take impressions of your teeth to create custom trays for your whitening. Then, they will show you exactly how to use your kit for safe teeth whitening at home.
While many would consider these the best home teeth whitening kits, there are a couple of downsides. First, you'll pay £200-£300 for a teeth whitening kit from the dentist, which is a lot more than any of the other kits we've featured here. Second, stronger peroxide whitening gel kits can be more likely to cause sensitivity.
Read more about professional teeth whitening at the dentist to decide whether this is a good choice for you.
Things to consider before doing home whitening
If you have any artificial teeth or teeth coverings – such as implants, bridges, crowns and veneers – these won't be affected by any whitening treatment. This shouldn't be too obvious with rear teeth but if you have an artificial front tooth you may have to just accept your natural tooth colour.
You should also have realistic expectations about the results you're likely to achieve. A 2018 survey of Brits' experiences with cosmetic dentistry found that 68% of those who had undergone teeth whitening had opted for a home whitening kit. However, only 42% of these patients reported being ‘happy' or ‘very happy' with the results (compared to 69% of those who had professional whitening at the dentist).
Although you might get the best results by visiting a dentist, whitening kits are much cheaper and more convenient. Its a trade-off you need to consider when deciding which treatment is right for you.
Another cause of dissatisfaction is tooth sensitivity (this can happen with any kind of whitening). Some people experience no sensitivity whatsoever, whereas others find it so painful they cut their treatment short.
Your experience will depend on the condition of your teeth and the ingredients in the whitening product you use. Choosing a whitening kit with a gentle formula will certainly help reduce your chances of experiencing sensitivity.
Most manufacturers recommend you don't use teeth whitening products while pregnant or breastfeeding. If you're currently undergoing orthodontic treatment with braces, you should wait until they are removed before whitening your teeth. You can still use a whitening toothpaste in the meantime.
How long your results last will depend a lot on how well you care for your teeth after whitening.
The simplest way to keep your teeth whiter for longer is to avoid exposing them to things that are likely to stain them. This includes:
- Brightly coloured sauces like tomato sauces and curries
- Wine (both red and white – although white doesn't cause stains, it can darken existing ones)
- Soft drinks (even sugar-free ones have damaging levels of acid)
Think of it this way: if it will stain a white shirt or carpet, there's a good chance it will stain your teeth. Drinking through a straw helps keep damaging liquids away from front teeth.
Whitening products temporarily make your tooth enamel more porous so the whitening agent can take better effect. This also means your teeth are more susceptible to staining from other sources while whitening is in progress. It's therefore a good idea to steer clear of these foods and drinks not just after whitening your teeth, but during treatment as well. If this is too much to ask, at least abstain for a couple of hours after each home whitening session.
Your teeth will also stay whiter if you take good care of them (something you should be doing anyway). This means brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing every day.
A whitening toothpaste will help remove any surface stains that do build up on your teeth. If this causes sensitivity, try using it just two or three times a week instead. AP24 toothpaste is one popular brand in the UK, although it does come at a price. Cheaper supermarket brands may prove just as effective for you.
Finally, don't forget to visit your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings with the hygienist. They use more advanced tools to remove the stuff you miss while you're brushing.
Do teeth whitening kits work? The answer is yes – as long as you're not expecting drastic results. Home whitening kits are an affordable and convenient way to brighten your teeth. Although individual results vary, it's possible to get your teeth several shades lighter in just a week or two.
Because safety is a concern with teeth whitening at home, we recommend you choose a product that is produced somewhere that closely regulates whitening products such as the UK, US, or EU.
Don't forget, you can use our exclusive discount code to get 10% off the Smile Avenue Professional Teeth Whitening Kit on their website. Simply enter code DENTA10 at the checkout to claim your discount. This is our pick for best teeth whitening kit in the UK because it conforms to safety standards, produces good results, and contains a generous amount of gel.
Or, for a more premium whitening experience, check out Snow Whitening Kits from the USA.