teeth whitening is effective and affordable
Although whitening your teeth at home won't give you the instantaneous,
blinding white choppers that a professional treatment will, it does a pretty
good job at a fraction of the cost. Still, before you whiten your teeth, do
check with your dentist to be sure he or she has no concerns. We also recommend
that you use a whitening toothpaste, which we cover in a separate
report, to maintain that dazzling smile.
that teeth whitening product? We wanted to include the
percentage of whitening ingredient in each of the teeth whitening products that
we recommend, but it's not easy to ascertain that number because the
manufacturers do not include those specifics on their websites. In each case,
we reached out to the manufacturer to verify ingredient percentages, with mixed
results. Some makers were glad to share percentages, others politely declined,
saying that was considered proprietary information.
There are plenty of websites devoted to teeth whitening that claim to
know the exact breakdown, but, since there's no way to verify their
information, we did not accept those as reliable. However, experts generally
agree that home teeth whitening products have up to 10 percent hydrogen
peroxide, while professionally applied tooth whitening treatments can contain
from 25 to 40 percent. As a result, we would suggest being skeptical if you
read anything not directly attributable to the manufacturer that claims that an
over-the-counter whitening product contains more than 10 percent whitening
The Best Teeth Whiteners
Teeth whitening is a popular and rather inexpensive procedure, and teeth
whitening products are common to find in "best of" roundups. Sometimes these
recommendations include either testing with real consumers or a dental
professional's recommendation; other recommendations are just based on the
product's reputation. The challenge for this update was that a couple of the
roundups that actually rely on testing also recommend products that get
extremely low ratings from users, or are made by companies that don't have
websites (or have very sketchy-looking websites) so we can't check their
For that reason, and because teeth whitening is so individual, we give a
lot of weight to what users say about the product. We also took note of the
fact that off-brand teeth whitening products tend to be subject to more suspect
reviews than most other categories we cover, so we're careful to weed out those
suspiciously positive ratings -- often dozens or hundreds that sound eerily
alike in tone.
Experts agree: the best choice for most people for whitening their teeth
at home are teeth whitening strips. They are easy to use, with little muss or
fuss involved, and cause a minimal amount of pain. Furthermore, experts and
users also agree that (Est. $45 for 20 treatments) are the best strips you can use. Reviewers say that they see a noticeable
difference in their smile even after a few days -- and a very big difference
after the full, 20-day treatment.
The Crest strips couldn't be simpler to use, just peel them from their
foil package, remove the backing, and apply to your teeth. Crest recommends you
do so before you brush your teeth for optimal adherence, and some users add
that they get even better results if they dry their teeth first. Once they're
on though, they stay on, and you can even talk or drink water while wearing the
strips. Each treatment is 30 minutes, once a day. Crest makes other Whitestrips
systems as well, including some with stronger concentrations of hydrogen
peroxide for quicker whitening and some with shorter treatment periods of 14
days. All get kudos for effectiveness and convenience, but the Professional
Effects series is far and away the most popular option.
Most people with sensitive teeth say they can use Crest Whitestrips
Professional Effects without any significant problems. Others, especially those
with very sensitive teeth, say these strips caused pain or tingling, or caused
cankers on their gums or lips -- although the latter complaint is very rare.
Crest does offer a gentler product, (Est. $35) that gets good reviews for causing less
pain. They are used once a day, 5 minutes a day, for 14 days. They don't get as
much praise for noticeable whitening that the other Crest Whitestrips do, but
they're a better choice for those with sensitive teeth.
No other strip-style whitener even comes close to Crest
Whitestrips when it comes to credible positive feedback -- many major dental
care manufacturers don't even make a tooth whitening strip. The only other
strips we saw that appear at first glance to be highly rated by users had
scores that were primarily the result of reviews made in exchange for a free
product; because of the high possibility of bias in such reviews, they were
teeth whitening kits
Kits for teeth whitening usually include gels, trays and sometimes other
items, such as whitening pens, to give you better coverage than strips can. Some
kits even include UV lights, but most experts say the lights don't really do
much except add to the cost. These kits are easy to use, too, just fill the
trays with the gel, fit them on your teeth, and wear them for a prescribed period
of time every day for a specific number of days. Teeth whitening kits are
usually how companies package "fast whitening" products, and these are thought
to have a higher hydrogen peroxide combination than the standard maximum of 10
percent, but, since manufacturers won't confirm the exact percentages of their
whitening ingredients, that's merely speculation.
The (Est. $40) earns kudos from both experts
and users for its fast results, with plenty of happy reviewers posting "before"
and "after" pictures on product review websites to prove it. Some even say that
the bleaching effects continue for 12 or more hours, and their teeth were even
whiter when they woke up than they had been the night before.
Rembrandt's 2-Hour kit is super easy to use, just dip the moldable trays
in hot water, let them cool a bit, place them in your mouth to form to your
teeth, remove, fill with gel and replace. It's a bit time-consuming though, and
you have to keep track of what you're doing because you wear the trays for 20
minutes at a time, removing them and resting your teeth for 10 minutes in
between sessions. It's also messier than strips because the gel tends to "ooze"
a bit; something that stimulates a few people's sensitive gag reflex, but
doesn't bother others.
The big issue with the 2-Hour Whitening Kit is that it gets many
complaints from those with sensitive teeth -- even some who did not have issues
with other teeth whitening kits. This may be due to a higher concentration of
whitening agent (although Rembrandt would not verify the concentration), but it
also can be attributed just to leaving the whitener on the teeth for such a
long period of time in one sitting -- the longer you leave a whitening
treatment on your teeth, the more apt you are to suffer from sensitivity
It gets more mixed reviews from users, but the (Est. $20) is also about half the price of
Rembrandt's fast whitening kit. And, if you dig into the reviews a bit, you see
that unhappy customers generally complain about teeth sensitivity. These users
tend to be very harsh in their judgements, often giving a 1 star review for
something that, to be fair, isn't really the product's fault as all teeth
whiteners can cause some pain for those with sensitive teeth. Most users are
very happy with the results they get from the Plus White kit, especially for
The best whitening
Gels are the least common and least popular of the available teeth
whiteners, but some people like them because they can use them virtually
anywhere. You "paint" them on your teeth using a swab, toothbrush or any small
brush. Although they claim to whiten quickly and to lighten up dark stains
better than other types of whitening products, experts say that's not so:
because they're just painted on, they don't really stay on long enough to be as
effective as products that stay in contact with your teeth for a set period of
time. Most gels can be used with trays to increase their effectiveness, but you'll
have to purchase the trays separately.
In this category, the product that gets the best reviews we
spotted is (Est. $7 for 2 oz. tube). Users
like that they can use this "on the go" or while traveling without anyone knowing that they're whitening. Quite a few
users say they leave the gel on longer than the minimum of 5 minutes for
greater effectiveness; up to 30 minutes is fine, according to the manufacturer.
We saw fewer comments regarding painful or sensitive teeth
with the Plus White 5 Minute Speed Whitening Gel. In fact, many say that this
is the only whitening product they have ever been able to use without pain.
Quite a few also say it's easier to use than strips or tray systems, although
some say they use it with whitening trays they've obtained elsewhere.
Another well-reviewed gel product is the (Est. $20). Plenty of happy users
have posted "before" and "after" pictures showing their
noticeably brighter teeth after a few weeks of use. It's simple to use, just
apply the gel and let it dry then leave it on. Each pen lasts about a month,
they note. As with the Plus White gel, there are fewer complaints of pain and
sensitivity with these pens than with products like strips and trays.
Expert & User Review Sources
As we noted in the introduction to this report, teeth whiteners are a
popular category for questionable products and suspicious reviews, so we were
careful to weed those out. The professional roundups we found that involved
testing were at Good Housekeeping, TopTenReviews.com and Reviews.com.
Even more helpful were user reviews at TotalBeauty.com, Amazon.com and Walmart.com.