Over the past decade, at-home teeth whitening has come a long, long way. While going into the dentist (ugh, the worst) is clearly the most effective course of action, there are some pretty advanced ways to combat yellowing teeth without having to shell out the major bills at the dentist. Back in the day, whitening toothpastes, strips, and even gargling peroxide — if you want to be super old school — were some of the only out-of-office options. Just like LED light treatments used on the skin for anti-aging and acne benefits, at-home LED devices are now being used to brighten up your pearly whites. And, while were initially rather costly, finding the best LED teeth whiteners when you’re on a budget is surprisingly pretty easy.

As an avid and long-term drinker (addict?) of coffee, I can safely say that my teeth have most certainly paid the price. And while I’m definitely insecure about my stained teeth, I am certainly not willing to give up my morning (and afternoon, let’s be honest) cup of joe for a blinding smile. With that being said, despite my aversion for quitting such common teeth-staining culprits, I’m also a big advocate for finding ways to combat years of my habit, without relying on costly in-office treatments to get the job done. Frankly — and apologies if this is slightly gross — if I’m going to go to a dentist’s office, it’s going to be for a cavity, root canal, or something relatively serious. Because no one in their right minds wants to be in a dental office if it isn’t absolutely necessary.

LED whitening kits work blast away discoloration by using a topical whitening solution alongside a mouth-sized LED light. LED technology has been found to amplify the effects of whitening solutions, which are generally peroxide-based. I thought the idea was a gimmick, to be sure. But after experimenting with a few on the market, I’ve found they actually do work, and some of the kits don’t cost more than my once go-to whitening strips.

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