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Teeth Whitening Reviews

By: Kelly Burgess on January 09, 2018

Editor's note:
When it comes to whitening your teeth at home, Crest Whitestrips is the most effective choice, but Go Smile Super White Snap Packs might be better for sensitive teeth. In our newly updated report, we recommend only the safest, most effective whitening treatments to brighten your smile without having to take a seat in the dentist's chair.

Crest 3D Whitestrips Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Daily treatment time - 30 minutes Total treatment time - 20 days Duration of results - 12 months

Best whitening strips

No home teeth whitening product gets more expert recommendations than Crest 3D Whitestrips. They come in a wide variety of formulations and treatment length options. There's even a popular Gentle Routine Kit (Est. $35) that can reduce the pain that whitening sometimes causes in people with sensitive teeth or gums. While the claim that Whitestrips can remove "years of stains" may be a bit of hyperbole, the fact is that you will get noticeably whiter teeth if you use these gel strips.

Buy for $43.99
Plus White 5 Minute Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Daily treatment time - 5 to 20 minutes Total treatment time - 2 weeks Duration of results - Weekly touchups recommended

Best teeth whitening kit

Professional whitening kits incorporate mouth trays because they completely cover the teeth, inside and out, for even whitening all over. However, those kits you get from your dentist can cost hundreds of dollars. While the Plus White 5-Minute Speed Whitening System won't give you professional results, for the very reasonable price users say it noticeably whitens their teeth over the two-week treatment period -- and expert testing backs that up. For very stained teeth, you can use it up to 20 minutes per day.

Buy for $16.95
Go Smile Super White Snap Packs
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Daily treatment time - At least 20 minutes, at least 2 times per day Total treatment time - 7 days Duration of results - N/A

Best whitening gel

In testing, Go Smile Super White Snap Packs lightened participants' teeth three shades in a week's time. Go Smile has a unique applications system -- the gel comes in tubes that you snap open and rub on your teeth twice per day, morning and night. That allows you to specifically target the gel to your teeth, which may help minimize sensitivity to this whitening treatment. Experts and users like that it doesn't have an unpleasant taste or cause excessive salivation during treatment.

Buy for $99.95

Home 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 are covered in a separate report, to maintain that dazzling smile.

What's in 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 agent.

Finding the best teeth whiteners

Teeth whitening is one of the more challenging categories for us to make recommendations in. For one thing, there are a lot of shady products out there made by companies looking to cash in on the teeth whitening craze. Many of these are very highly rated -- or so they seem -- but digging into the ratings tells a different story, with many obviously fake reviews for companies that don't seem to exist outside of this one, specific product, or reviews given in exchange for a free product.

Even those teeth whitening products made by reputable companies such as Crest, Plus White and others tend to get reviews that aren't exactly glowing. Again, digging into these reviews, we find plenty of low ratings from those who expected miracles -- teeth whiteners can't remove 15 years' worth of stains no matter what they claim, only a professional hygienist can do that. People with realistic expectations tend to be the happiest. Fortunately, this isn't our first rodeo: we were able to cut through the hype and the fakes to recommend the teeth whitening products that you can trust and that will really work.

The best whitening strips

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 Crest 3D Whitestrips 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 recommended treatment time, which is 14 to 20 days, depending upon formulation.

Crest Whitestrips 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 effectiveness and 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 a variety of Whitestrips systems, but the two that are included in testing in most of the professional roundups we spotted are Crest 3D White Professional Effects (Est. $25 and up) and Crest 3D White Glamourous White Whitestrips (Est. $35 for 14 treatments). But you can't go wrong with any Crest Whitestrips formulation that might be on the store shelf (or on sale!) when you're out shopping.

Most people, including many with sensitive teeth, say they can use regular strength Crest Whitestrips without any significant problems. Others, however, and especially those with very sensitive teeth, say these strips caused pain or tingling, sometimes severe enough that they had to stop using them. If you encounter problems, Crest does offer a gentler product, Crest 3D White Whitestrips Gentle Routine (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 if the standard formulations cause you pain.

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 have 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 disregarded.

The best 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.

Among teeth whitening kits from reputable companies, the Plus White 5-Minute Speed Whitening System (Est. $15) is a highly affordable choice that led to noticeably whiter teeth in testing at Reviews.com, although the editors there didn't make it one of their top picks due to the messiness factor of the trays. Still, the benefit of the trays is that they whiten your entire tooth; strips, on the other hand, only whiten the parts they touch.

Messiness aside, the Plus White kit is easy to use. Included are two trays, the whitening gel and a post-whitening rinse. Just brush your teeth with plain water, fill the trays with gel, put them on your teeth for 5 to 20 minutes, then rinse. Users agree with the testers at Reviews.com, saying they noticed whiter teeth pretty quickly, and they became even whiter over the treatment time of 14 days.

Plus White also recommends touch ups once or twice a week to maintain your white smile. The good news is that, for the price, those touch ups are very affordable.

The only other credible recommendation we saw for a tooth whitening kit (and, to be honest, it barely made our credibility cut), was from Allure for the Luster Pro Light Dental Whitening System (Est. $40). The reason for our caution is that the Allure roundup is a bit of an n=1 experiment. In other words, one person from Allure tried each product and shared their experiences. Still, the tester who tried the Luster Pro Light System said it was very easy to use and her teeth were definitely whiter after treatment. Most importantly -- and probably the biggest selling point for this particular kit -- there seem to be fewer sensitivity issues.

The Luster Pro Light Dental Whitening System is a bit finickier to use than strips. You have to start with a rinse, apply a serum to each tooth, and hold the light in front of your teeth for two minutes. The directions suggest placing a cotton ball inside your mouth to absorb saliva build-up, something that the Allure reviewer says is more trouble than it's worth. There are a variety of treatment options based upon your time frame.

User reviews for the Luster Pro Light system are pretty "meh," with just average ratings overall -- although we only found a few dozen reviews. Most say it does a good job, some say they didn't see any difference. Although experts say these lights are more hype than anything, a lot of the reviewers felt the light really helped to "lighten" their teeth up.

The best whitening gels

Gels are becoming popular among home teeth whitening aficionados because their targeted application tends to cause less pain in sensitive people. That's because you "paint" them directly on your teeth, which allows you to avoid the solution coming in contact with your gums. 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.

In this category, the product that gets the best reviews we spotted is the Go Smile Super White Snap Packs (Est. $60 for 14 treatments). Go Smile contains 14 tubes filled with gel that you squeeze onto your teeth. Reviews.com, which makes Go Smile their top pick in teeth whiteners, describes it as very easy to use, saying it's "quick to apply and totally wearable." In their testing, it lightened the testers' teeth three shades in a week's time. You use it twice a day for at least 20 minutes -- overnight for the evening treatment.

Go Smile actually gets somewhat better user reviews than most of the tooth whitening systems in this report (although none of the credible products get much more than slightly above average ratings), with users saying it worked as advertised. The biggest complaint we saw was that the gel can be difficult to squeeze out of the tube. Also, because you "snap" the gel cap open, it's not quite as portable as most of the other methods we cover here because of the possibility that the tubes will open accidentally.

If you prefer whitening on-the-go, Plus White 5 Minute Speed Whitening Gel (Est. $15) is another popular gel that gets better reviews than most. Users like that they can use this daily 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 few 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.

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 Reviews.com and Allure. Business Insider and GQ consulted with a dental professional to make their recommendations. User reviews from Total Beauty, Amazon, Walmart and Walgreens rounded out the picture.

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