Gel and tray combination ensures good coverage. Includes remineralization gel. Many notice lighter tooth shades after 3 treatments or so.
Some users don't see noticeable whitening. Replacement trays aren’t sold separately; a new kit must be purchased. Trays may seem bulky and irritating to some, particularly at the back of the mouth.
Applied properly, users find kit whitens nearly as well as expensive in-office treatments. Most users see results within a few days of use. Adhesive seal keeps strips in place.
Putting them on requires a bit of time to fit around teeth. Some users report extreme tooth sensitivity after a few days of use. Strips may not cover all visible teeth.
Whitens teeth by several shades; results generally seen within a few days. Gel treatment covers the entire tooth.
Many users dislike the taste. Some report extreme sensitivity that forced them to stop using the product. Gel can irritate gums. Some users do not see a significant color change.
System is fairly gentle; many like the LED light/tray/gel combo. Responsive customer service. Combined top/bottom tray is easier to wear than 2 separate trays.
Some users aren't satisfied with results. Mouth tray may not fit some people. Bleaching gel can irritate lips/gums. LED light batteries might not last long.
Made with all natural ingredients, including activated charcoal that has earned a reputation as a mild, natural way to whiten teeth. Comes with two bamboo applicator brushes.
The powdered charcoal is messy to work with, and may cause temporary stains on some surfaces. May not work well for badly stained or discolored teeth.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Shiny, white, healthy teeth: everyone wants that. While several years ago a trip to the dentist was the only way to whiten your teeth, today there are hundreds of teeth whiteners on the market for at-home use.
With so many whiteners on the shelves, how do you separate the hype from the reality? How do you find the best teeth whitening kit to restore the bright smile of your youth?
If you’re ready to purchase a teeth whitening kit, check out our five favorites in the product list above.
But if you’d like to learn more about teeth whitening in general, including how to find the right kit for you, read on.
A yellowed or discolored smile is a common problem. There are two basic reasons why teeth change color - stains and age. Other causes of yellowed, brownish, or grayish teeth include genetics, certain medications, excessive fluoride, tooth grinding, dental trauma, and tooth decay.
Your teeth have a hard outer coating of enamel, and this enamel is prone to staining. Coffee, tea, red wine, soda, and cigarette smoke are the most common culprits, although other dark or acidic foods can also discolor teeth over time. Luckily, surface stains are the easiest discoloration to remove.
The aging process thins your dental enamel. This allows the inner layer of dentin — the hard material surrounding and protecting the pulp and root of each tooth — to show through.
Dentin is normally yellow or brown, so as your enamel thins the exposed dentin causes your teeth to appear discolored. Unfortunately, dentin cannot be lightened. You can still improve the appearance of your teeth by removing stains and lightening enamel, but you cannot change the color of your dentin.
Dentists often recommend veneers or crowns in cases where the discoloration is extreme.
Yellowed teeth respond best to teeth whitening treatment, while grayish or brown teeth don’t whiten as much.
Teeth bleaching products only work on natural teeth. You cannot whiten veneers, crowns, or implants.
If you want to whiten your teeth at home, you have plenty of options.
Whitening toothpastes have mild abrasives to scrub away surface stains. Their results are minimal, but they can remove light staining.
Whitening gels are difficult to apply precisely without a tray, but if used carefully they can be quite effective.
Whitening strips are convenient and easy to use. They can whiten teeth two to four shades if used regularly and precisely.
Whitening kits are trays that you fill with a mild hydrogen peroxide gel and then apply to your teeth for a specified length of time, generally 20 minutes to an hour per session. You can achieve good results with teeth whitening kits, often removing stains and whitening teeth up to four or more shades.
Whitening mouthwashes or rinses contain a small amount of hydrogen peroxide. They also give minimal results, but they are a good way to keep up on teeth whitening in between other types of treatments.
LED lights, particularly blue lights, are sometimes used in conjunction with teeth whitening kits. While there is some controversy about the effectiveness of LED light, proponents claim it makes the bleaching action of the peroxide faster and more efficient.
Most dentists offer a variety of teeth whitening services. In-office procedures generally make use of stronger peroxide than home kits offer, and dentists may also use ultraviolet light or lasers for further whitening. Your dentist can also create custom bleach trays for your at-home use.
Professional whitening treatments are very effective, and some are much faster than home procedures. However, they are generally quite expensive, and your dental insurance is unlikely to cover them, as whitening is usually considered a cosmetic procedure.
Don’t overdo it. Excessive use of peroxide on your teeth can cause a bluish tint, a chalky look, or uneven spots. Always follow your teeth whitening kit’s instructions for length of use, frequency of use, and recommended time between treatments.
While most people can safely use at-home teeth whitening kits and achieve satisfactory results, these products are not for everyone.
If you have gum disease such as gingivitis or periodontitis, exposed dental roots, cracked teeth, or untreated cavities, the use of a teeth whitener can cause further damage or sensitivity.
If your dental enamel is already thin, your dentist will probably advise against whitening your teeth.
If your teeth are very heavily discolored, you probably won’t achieve the results you desire from a teeth whitening kit. Your dentist can offer more long-lasting, effective options.
Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not use teeth whitening products. Children should not use whiteners containing peroxide.
While you should always follow the manufacturer’s directions or your dentist’s instructions, these general guidelines will help you achieve the best results.
Brush and floss your teeth before using the teeth whitening kit.
Make sure the kit’s trays are dry before filling them with the peroxide solution, and never overfill the trays.
If applying gel directly to your teeth, use a brush and carefully cover all exposed surfaces. Keep the gel away from your gums.
If using strips or a tray, make sure the peroxide is in full contact with your teeth, otherwise you’ll end up with spotty results.
Wipe away any gel that oozes onto your gums.
Leave the whitening gel or strip on only for the recommended length of time. Going longer won’t give you better results and may cause tooth sensitivity or damage.
Rinse your mouth thoroughly after your treatment is finished.
Don’t eat or drink for half an hour after your treatment.
Stay away from common tooth stainers such as wine, soda, coffee, tea, cigarettes, and citrus for at least two days after your treatment.
Your teeth will be more susceptible to staining in the first couple of days after a whitening treatment, so avoid coffee, tea, cigarette smoke, red wine, citrus, and tomatoes during that time.
Q. Are the effects of a teeth whitening kit permanent?
A. Generally, no. Discoloration from coffee, wine, and other foods will eventually return unless you eliminate these items from your diet. The whitening effects of a kit will usually last anywhere from a month to nearly a year, but by touching up your teeth periodically you can maintain the whitening indefinitely.
Q. Are teeth whitening kits safe?
A. If used correctly, teeth whitening kits are quite safe. However, minor side effects, such as gum irritation and tooth sensitivity, are common. These side effects usually go away within a few days of discontinuing the whitening treatment. If your discomfort persists beyond that, give your dentist a call.
Q. Are at-home teeth whitening kits as good as the whitening treatments in a dentist’s office?
A. While you can achieve very good results with an at-home teeth whitening kit, dentists have access to higher percentages of peroxide and customized trays, along with laser and ultraviolet treatments that provide the best whitening results.
Q. How much do teeth whitening kits cost?
A. At-home teeth whitening kits generally range from $20 to $50. By contrast, a professional whitening treatment from your dentist can cost several hundred dollars.
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