There’s a saying that a great smile is the best accessory, and I have to agree. (Well okay, it might be a close tie with a great pair of shoes, but I digress). There’s no doubt a smile makes anyone look better—and get this, it can make you feel better, too! That's right, smiling may actually relieve stress by increasing blood flow to our brains. Clearly, turning that frown upside down is a good thing, but if you’re feeling self-conscious about your teeth, you may not want to show them off. Maybe they’ve just never been as white as you would like, or it could be your love of coffee and red wine that have turned them a bit dull (I’ll raise a hand to that!). Have no fear—there are now many D.I.Y. solutions to turn your pearly whites their pearliest and whitest.
Years ago, the only option to improve the look of your teeth was a costly and time-consuming visit to your dentist. Then at-home products came to market, but they were limited, cumbersome, often ineffective and still pricey. Fast forward to today, and it feels like there are almost too many solutions out there!
We're here to help navigating the whitening waters. First, you need to consider a few key issues—how much time do you have to spend on whitening, how much money do you have to spend on whitening, and how much whitening do you need. If you want a low-effort solution that gives a gentle brightening, consider one of the toothpaste products. If you need more help and can stick to a prescribed schedule, try a system with gel or strips. Some home kits now also include a blue light device, similar to what dentists use. The light and heat are said to react with the chemicals in the whitening gels to speed up and deepen their effectiveness. We tested out many, many options and found the below seven to deliver the best results of the bunch. The best part? You can order them today to be on your way to a whiter, brighter, more beautiful smile just in time for summer!
Crest 3D White Whitestrips with Light
Crest has been one of the most common names in at-home whitening for more than 15 years. The brand’s newest kit includes a small blue light device to enhance the whitening process. First you apply the 10 percent hydrogen peroxide strips—one for your top teeth and one for the bottom—and leave them there for an hour. The instructions say you can continue to talk and even drink water, but I prefer to do the treatment at a time when I know I’ll be left alone. Compared to the early editions of Crest Whitestrips, these adhered to my teeth much better. At the end of the hour, place the light device against the top strip, push the buttons on either side and hold it there until the light turns off—it took about 5 minutes. Repeat the process for the bottom strip, then remove and rinse your mouth. The kit includes enough strips for 10 treatments, which the brand says is required for full results that last up to 36 months.
APA Beauty White Duo
First, let's discuss the packaging—a beautiful white box with gold trim definitely convey the fact that this is a luxury product. This one uses a whitening strips and a brush-tipped pen to apply the 18 percent carbamide peroxide gel to each tooth, using light pressure for a few seconds to activate the gel and make sure the front of the tooth is covered. Then open one of the individual film trays and apply the strip, which has 20 percent carbamide peroxide on it, over your gel-covered teeth. You need to hold your mouth open and get the strip on fairly quickly so your lips don’t come in contact with the gel. (My advice? Open the tray before you use the pen!) Then repeat the process for your bottom teeth. The strips needs to stay in place for 90 minutes. They are somewhat thick, which may make talking difficult, so keep that in mind when figuring out when to do your treatment. In addition to the whitening ingredients, the product has peppermint oil to sooth sensitive teeth and prevent infection, and potassium nitrate to reduce sensitivity.
GLO Science Brilliant Personal Teeth Whitening Device
And now for the the high-tech option in our roundup! Warning: This one is pricey. Another warning: If you are someone that just wants to jump in without reading directions, this might not be the one for you. It’s not difficult, but does require a few steps. First, charge the included GLO (a.k.a. Guided Light Optic) control device, which looks like a bit like an old iPod for four hours to achieve a full charge. When you are ready to begin your treatment, start by brushing your teeth and then applying the GLO Lip Care to your top and bottom lips. Then open one G-Vial and use the brush tip to apply the 6.5 percent hydrogen peroxide whitening gel directly onto your teeth. Plug the mouthpiece into the control device (which comes with a lanyard so it can hang around your neck), push the button on the front to turn on the blue lights, then put it in your mouth and gently bite down to hold it in place. The lights will automatically go off after eight minutes At the end of the eight minutes, you literally rinse (the mouthpiece) and repeat—three more times to be exact. Each G-Vial includes enough gel for the recommended four applications. The company suggests you do this 32-minute treatment five days in a row, and up to 10 days maximum if needed.
Supersmile Extra White Whitening System
If you’re looking for a whitening solution that can be part of your twice daily brushing routine, this may be the one for you. Supersmile is a toothpaste and accelerator that you use together for maximum whitening. Put a pearl-size drop of both products onto a dry toothbrush—it needs to be dry so it does not dilute the ingredients. I have to admit this was a little strange for me at first since I usually run my brush under the faucet before adding toothpaste and was accustomed to that wetter feeling, but I quickly got used to it. The toothpaste uses baking soda and Calprox, the brand’s proprietary form of calcium peroxide, to remove surface stains and the accelerator has peroxide to bleach beneath the enamel.
Luster 2 Minute White Dental Whitening Treatment
Need a quick and easy whitening option? This kit uses a two-step process that can be done in as little as two minutes. Start with a quick swish of the neutralizing cleanser—it’s a bit like mouthwash—to prepare teeth for the whitening treatment. Then open the pen, squeeze it to coat the brush tip with 11 percent hydrogen peroxide serum, and apply it to one tooth at a time, avoiding your gums. Allow it to dry for about 30 seconds before allowing your lips or tongue to touch your teeth. If you only have time for one treatment, that’s it. The serum works for about 10 minutes, then becomes inactive and you can rinse you mouth at that time if you choose. For optimal whitening results, 12 treatments are recommended, but you choose whether to do it once a day or multiple times a day for fewer days. Just be sure to use the neutralizing cleanser each time before applying the serum.
Curaprox White is Black and Black is White Toothpaste
This one is a shock to the system at first! Curaprox is Swiss maker of this black toothpaste. That's right, BLACK toothpaste. The color comes from the activated charcoal that is said to absorb substances that cause discoloration. It also has fluoride, something called HAP (hydroxylapitite) that hardens enamel, and an “optical blue filter” to make teeth appear whiter. But what these pastes don’t have is any sort of bleaching product, such as hydrogen peroxide, so it’s great for sensitive teeth. The two products—White is Black and Black is White—are the same formula and black color but the lime-mint flavor is more intense in Black is White. The company suggests using the toothpaste twice daily for two weeks to see best results. You also get a matching ultra soft toothbrush.
Arm & Hammer Truly Radiant Bright and Strong Toothpaste
Baking soda is a gentle abrasive that can remove surface stains, but of course you don’t want to just brush with baking soda because then your teeth won’t get fluoride that is needed to keep your teeth strong and prevent cavities (and straight baking soda tastes yucky!). Now Arm & Hammer, the classic name for baking soda products, has developed a toothpaste that includes not just baking soda, but also active calcium (a combination of fluoride, calcium, and phosphate salts) and peroxide for whitening. It has a fresh, minty taste and adds shine in addition to gentle whitening. Use at least five days for best results.
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