Fact Checked

How to Use a Teeth Whitening Pen in 5 Steps

Written by Fernanda Elizalde

July 21, 2022

Medically Reviewed

By Dr. Brian Harris, DDS

Are you looking to brighten your pearly whites? A teeth whitening pen is an effective way to boost your confidence and enhance your appearance.

A whitening pen is also an excellent option for people with sensitive teeth and gums. Whitening pens are convenient and affordable. They come in a portable slim plastic tube, making them easy to travel with and whiten teeth on the go.

Teeth whitening pens are great for touch-ups before a special event, in preparation for a stunning photo op, or to routinely keep your smile consistently white. Whitening products are great to use if you're a coffee drinker, red wine enthusiast or have stubborn teeth stains.

This article will cover how teeth whitening pens work, how to use one, the benefits, potential side effects, and frequently asked questions.

snow teeth whitening kit

How to use a teeth whitening pen

Directions may vary by brand, so be sure to read the instructions on the package carefully before whitening your teeth. You can typically use your whitening pen one to two times a day for up to fourteen days.

Here are the typical steps to follow when using a teeth whitening pen:

Step 1: Brush your teeth

First, you'll want to clean your mouth by brushing your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and rinsing your mouth. The surface of your teeth should be clean, prepped, and ready.

Step 2: Prepare

Fully read the instructions on the package before starting. Just to make sure you can anticipate the next steps and be prepared. Fully unwrap the whitening pen and make sure you're in front of a mirror.

Next, take the cap off of your whitening pen and twist the applicator until the whitening gel is showing through the brush tip.

Step 3: Apply

Using gentle vertical strokes, simply brush a thin layer of the whitening gel along your teeth, top and bottom. Especially ensure that your front teeth are coated since those are the most visible. Avoid swallowing the whitening formula and keep the product off your gum line. Brush away any excess product onto another tooth. Allow the whitening gel 30 to 60 seconds to dry.

Leave the teeth whitening product on for as long as the package recommends. Times may vary depending on the brand. Be careful not to go over the recommended time limit as that can cause sensitivity and discomfort.

Step 4: Do not rinse immediately

Lastly, do not rinse unless the teeth whitening pen instructions say to do so. Most brands will recommend you leave the whitening gel on for the teeth whitening effect to fully lift stubborn stains. Some teeth whitening pens may be used overnight and others may need to be worn 20 to 30 minutes.

Avoid eating or drinking anything for at least 30 to 60 minutes. This will allow the teeth whitening product to fully absorb into your teeth and provide amazing results.

After the recommended treatment time, you can brush your teeth and rinse your mouth.

Step 5: Aftercare and mindful habits

Whitening teeth also comes with an aftercare routine and mindful habits. If you want your bright smile to last, you'll need to practice good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss, and use a mouthwash. Visit the dentist for routine checkups and teeth cleanings.

You'll also want to limit dark-tinted foods such as coffee, wine, and soda. Dark-pigmented foods will stain your teeth over time. Try to use straws if you must indulge.

You'll also want to limit highly acidic foods such as tomatoes, lemons, and fruit juices. Food and drinks high in acid can erode your tooth enamel and make your teeth more susceptible to bacteria and decay.

In addition, avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption to maintain a whiter smile for as long as possible. Smoking is one of the leading causes of decay and tooth loss.

Taking extra care of yourself will ensure that your pearly whites stay bright and your oral health optimal.

Benefits

If you're looking for a bright white smile, there are many benefits to using a teeth whitening pen. You can whiten your teeth safely with gently formulated products. After a few days or weeks, you'll see an incredible difference.

Here are some of the benefits of using whitening pens:

Portable

A teeth whitening pen is portable and easy to tuck into a purse or pant pocket. They're more convenient than other at-home teeth whitening products that may require more components. You can use a teeth whitening gel pen on the go.

Affordable

In comparison to professional teeth whitening treatments and pricier at-home alternatives, teeth whitening pens are one of the most affordable options.

Professional whitening treatments can cost upwards of $500 and beyond. Some of the pricier at-home kits cost $100 and above. A whitening pen cost range is between $20 to $50.

Flexible

Most teeth whitening treatments require you to whiten all of your teeth in unison. However, teeth whitening pens offer more flexibility. You're able to whiten a single tooth. Perhaps only a few of your teeth have stubborn stains. With a whitening pen, you can isolate one tooth at a time.

Gentle

If teeth whitening trays or strips irritate your gums, teeth whitening pens allow you to control the application. You'll be able to minimize gum line contact with the bleaching gel by painting it directly onto your teeth.

Active ingredients

Most teeth whitening products such as whitening toothpaste, whitening trays, and whitening pens contain hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.

Hydrogen peroxide is a bleaching agent that lifts stains and changes the color of your teeth. Most at-home whitening products contain a percentage of 3% to 10%. Dentist-grade treatments may have up to 40% and can only be used under professional supervision. This chemical agent works faster and yields the most results in the first 30 to 60 minutes.

Carbamide peroxide is a mix of hydrogen peroxide and carbamide (also known as urea). It is also a bleaching agent commonly found in teeth whitening pens and at-home kits. Carbamide peroxide has a slower release time and is commonly used in overnight teeth whitening treatments.

Side effects

Teeth whitening pens typically do not cause severe side effects. It's normal for your teeth to tingle and feel sensitive due to the hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide found in the teeth whitening pen.

Tooth enamel is porous and the peroxide active ingredient found in teeth whitening products can reach the dentin in your teeth. Your teeth' nerves may be temporarily irritated. Teeth whitening pens tend to contain a lower concentration of peroxide so this may not be an issue for you.

Excessive use can damage your tooth enamel, irritate your gums, deteriorate tooth health, and give your teeth a translucent appearance. It's best to use teeth whitening treatments as directed and talk to your dentist if side effects are lasting longer than usual.

Tooth sensitivity typically lasts 24 to 48 hours, depending on the teeth whitening product. Always use the product as directed.

You may also experience temporary sensitivity to hot and cold foods after you whiten your teeth. This usually doesn't last long. In the meantime use a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth after your treatment.

If you struggle with sensitivity, try using a desensitizing toothpaste before your next whitening treatment.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do I leave teeth whitening pen gel on?

It depends on the brand. Some teeth whitening pens can be applied at bedtime and can be used overnight. While others may only require a 20, 30, 0r 60 minute treatment time. It's best to read the directions and use the product for the recommended time.

Can I brush my teeth after using a whitening pen?

Yes, after the directed treatment time you can brush your teeth. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and floss afterward. Your teeth may feel sensitive after using whitening pen so brush gently.

Can I eat or drink after using a teeth whitening pen?

It's recommended that you wait a few hours after applying the whitening gel to ensure that the product absorbs into your teeth. Teeth whitening pens work best when they have uninterrupted time to lift teeth stains. This will allow the active ingredients to evenly whiten your teeth.

Are teeth whitening pens safe?

Yes, according to the American Dental Association, teeth whitening treatments containing hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide are considered safe and effective as long as they're used as directed. Over-the-counter formulas have a lower concentration of bleaching agents so they're not as harsh on your teeth.

Again, over usage can lead to tooth sensitivity, potential tooth decay, and pain. Store your pen in a cool environment and always follow the directions when using teeth whitening pens. You'll also want to make sure that the product is not expired.

If you're pregnant or nursing, consult with your dentist or primary physician first before using a teeth whitening pen.

snow teeth whitening kit

Summary

A teeth whitening pen is an effective and convenient way to brighten your teeth. The application process is easy and only requires a few steps. You just need to brush your teeth first, prep, apply, and let the product work it's magic. Give the pen at least a week to show results. You may even see results in the first few days of usage.

There are many benefits to using a whitening pen. They're affordable, portable, flexible, and gentle on your gums. Most pens have potent active ingredients that blast away stains. These ingredients are gentle and safe as long as you use the product as directed.