Whiten Your Teeth at Home
A rundown on some of the best value at-home teeth whitening kits.
Would you like to have whiter, brighter teeth? Maybe you have a big date or a job interview looming, and are worried your smile isn’t quite up to scratch. Well, I’ve done the research for you. Whiter teeth can be yours, and it can be simple and inexpensive.
There are literally dozens of substances or products that you can use to get whiter teeth. Some, of course, work better than others. Some methods can be downright dangerous!
On this page, I’ll be helping you sort through the hype and make it easier for you to choose the method or product that’s right for you.
First up, a brief Chemistry lesson
All professional or at-home teeth whitening preparations (with the possible exception of some toothpaste) rely on peroxides to whiten teeth. This peroxide is delivered in the form of either Hydrogen Peroxide (H²O²) or Carbamide Peroxide (CH⁶N²O³).
When Carbamide Peroxide is exposed to water it breaks down into Hydrogen Peroxide and Urea. The ratio of the amount of H²O² to CH⁶N²O³ is roughly 1:3. This means that if a product has 24% CP (I’m going to leave the chemical formulas alone from here on) that translates to about 8% HP.
If you were to visit a dentist for a teeth whitening session, they would probably
use HP in a gel form at a strength of about 25% – 40%. That’s what’s referred to as “power whitening” and should only be performed once a year.
A non-dentist teeth whitening professional would most likely be using HP gel at a strength of up to 16%, probably along with laser light. This would fall under the heading of “cosmetic whitening” or “laser whitening”. These treatments should be restricted to twice a year.
Both these methods would involve painting on the whitener, while using a cheek retractor, and maybe a dental dam, to avoid getting any of the peroxides on your gums, cheeks, or tongue.
So what will all this cost?
Well, a single in-chair treatment by a dentist will probably set you back around $650.00. You can also get take-home custom-fitted trays to administer yourself which will cost around $400.00. The prices for non-dentist professional teeth whitening vary quite a bit. You’d probably expect to pay upwards of $300.00 though.
DIY kits, on the other hand, will usually set you back less than $150.00. Often much less. What you need to keep in mind, however, is the old adage; You get what you pay for. You’ll get many whitening sessions from your kit, so over time, the cost won’t amount to all that much. (You’ll also need to keep in mind that it may not be all that simple though, depending on the system you use)
The American Dental Association has made a brief, informative video you watch below.
Okay, so let’s look at 3 at-home alternatives.
You could use the Tray-in-Mouth method.
This was the first type of home teeth whitener I myself tried. Being pretty new to this whole teeth whitening thing, and with a casting agent appointment looming, I dropped into my local pharmacy and bought an over the counter whitening kit. Money was a bit tight, so I bought one of the cheapest options available. Surely one would be as good as the next hey? Yeah, right!!!
Needless to say, I never bought that particular brand (which will remain nameless) again. It had a small (read tiny) bottle of whitener and a couple of moldable trays that I couldn’t for the life of me get to fit and that was about it. I ended up with inflamed gums from the peroxide leaking out and my teeth looked about the same as before I started, even after two treatments. (I couldn’t face a third)
After letting my mouth settle down I started searching online for a decent alternative…
Billionaire Teeth Whitening Kit
I next tried the Billionaire Teeth Whitening Kit. Now, this kit not only worked but worked extremely well.
If you are looking at trying this type of whitening system, I wouldn’t go past this one. There was a good deal more whitening gel supplied, the trays were able to be fitted fairly easily, and after three treatments the results were actually very good. Online, (I’m not sure you can get this in retail shops) the kit was about double what I paid for my first attempt, but hey, IT WORKED.
You get two syringes of whitening gel and two of desensitizer. The kit also includes an ultra-violet light to boost the effects of the whitening gel. Most teeth whitening kits rely solely on the whitener and don’t include the light.
The trays are easily fitted after softening in hot water and the whole process took me about 45 minutes. (I just plopped myself in front of the telly and the time passed quickly)
Personally, I didn’t need the desensitizer but it’s nice that they included it just in case. They recommend that you apply the whitening gel to your teeth with a Cotton Bud but I found it easier to just put the gel in the mouth tray before putting it in my mouth.
There are a few similar products, at around the same price, but I chose to stick with what worked. The Billionaire Whitening Kit was my system of choice for some time. I still think it’s the most effective at-home teeth whitener on the market.
You can check out their website for yourself here.
Crest 3D White Strips
Then I decided to try Crest 3D White Strips. A friend put me on to this system. I was bitching about having to sit around waiting for the gel to work and hoping my phone didn’t ring.
Although I don’t personally feel that strips are quite as effective as the tray system, especially if your teeth are badly stained, they do have their place. The big advantage of the strips is that they are so easy to apply. Add to that the fact that I can talk (albeit with a slight lithpiness) and even take a drink while wearing the strips.
What I do know though, whenever my teeth need a little whiteness boost, is to apply the strips just before heading for the shower. By the time I’ve showered, shaved, done my hair etc the strips have worked their magic and with a quick brushing, I’m ready to go.
Crest says in their ads that results from these strips last for up to twelve months. From what I’ve been able to learn it’s not an overstatement.
Crest 3D White Luxe Professional Effects
The Crest 3D White Luxe Professional Effects strips. These are by far the best teeth whitening strips on the market in terms of whitening power. They’ll generally give you equivalent results to those you’ll get from a dentist at a fraction of the cost. Be aware, however, the peroxide content is very high, so a bit of tooth sensitivity might result, and gum tenderness could also be an issue if you’re particularly prone to this. There are a couple of different packaging options but the product itself is much the same regardless. One benefit of using strips is that the peroxide can’t leak onto your gums as it can with the tray system. Careful application should keep the strips away from sensitive mouthparts and eliminate gum soreness.
You can also buy the Crest 3D White Luxe Professional Effects strips as a pack of two 1hr express treatments, for when you need to quickly whiten your teeth for a special occasion. (Wedding, photoshoot, whatever) These will give a powerful whitening result in a quick time but are NOT for everyday use. In fact, if you do use this I’d leave any whitening treatment alone for quite some time afterward. Just my thoughts anyway.
Crest 3D White Monthly Whitening Boost
The one I use these days is the Crest 3D White Monthly Whitening Boost strips. For me, I find that these keep my pearly whites just that – pearly white – without much help. The manufacturer developed these as an addition to their yearly treatments so I guess it’s possible that I may have to give my fangs a booster treatment in a few months but for now I’m happy with the results I’m getting. As I said above, when my teeth need a whitening boost I just pop the strips in before my shower, shave, etc and I’m good to go in under a half-hour.
Crest 3D White Luxe Glamorous
The Crest 3D White Luxe Glamorous strips are a lower strength alternative to the Professional Effects strips. They work exactly the same, but you need to keep them on a bit longer and the results will last for about six months. I haven’t used these myself but from what I can gather they also work extremely well. This treatment takes around 14 days for full results but I’ve been told you can expect to see improvement after just a few days. If you’re worried about sensitivity, I’d suggest giving these a try first.
Crest 3D Whitestrips Gentle Routine
Having said that, there is another alternative for those of you with very sensitive teeth. The 3D Whitestrips Gentle Routine teeth whitening kit is a still lower strength option. Reports are that these are an acceptable alternative which will still deliver good results.
Crest 3D Classic Vivid White
The cheapest option is the Crest 3D Classic Vivid White strips. Another lower strength version, and based on the comments on the Crest website I’m not sure if I’d recommend these or not. They do work but are less effective than their up-market cousins. If the price is an issue, however, or if you don’t necessarily want spectacular results, then by all means give ’em a try. (If you do, then let me know via the comments section below what you think of them).
Crest 3D Whitestrips With Light
I’ve left this one ’til last. The Crest 3D Whitestrips With Light kit is the most expensive of the range. The strips are applied in much the same way, but after the bleaching process, and before removing the strips, you treat your teeth with a blue light supplied in the kit. This is the same type of light the professional dentists would use. The company claim 2X better whitening than professional treatments using 40% hydrogen peroxide and results that can last for up to three years. The total treatment takes about an hour and a half. One thing is, if you were to lash out around $100 for this kit, at least you wouldn’t have to keep spending the same amount each time, as you would just reuse the light and buy extra strips from then on.
Again, to be honest, I haven’t used this myself, but based on the results from the rest of the Crest 3D White range, I’d say the results would probably be very good indeed.
If whiter teeth are what you’re after, then I really can’t go past recommending any of the products on this page. The opinions expressed here are based on my own experiences, as well as review comments from other users posted on the manufacturers’ sites.