The best teeth whitening kit
You used to have to go to the dentist if you wanted to whiten your teeth. Nowadays, a few clicks at an online-retailer website or a trip to a drugstore is all you need to purchase an at-home teeth whitening kit. These kits provide all the materials you need to transform your yellowing teeth to pearly whites for a movie star smile. Not all of these products are created equal, though, and you definitely want to do your research before making a purchase. Fortunately, we've done the work for you and created this quick guide. Our top pick is this pro-level product, the Active Wow Teeth Whitening Premium Kit, which gets results with just three treatments.
Considerations when choosing teeth whitening kits
Who needs a teeth whitening kit?
There are a few reasons that our teeth become discolored or turn yellow. Our teeth have a hard enamel coating, which is vulnerable to stains from coffee, red wine, tea, soda, cigarettes, and acidic or dark foods. These can cause surface stains, which are easy to remove. Age is another factor that discolors teeth. As you age, your tooth enamel thins. The inner layer of the tooth, dentin, shows through. Dentin is naturally yellow or brown in color, which makes teeth look discolored when enamel thins. Other reasons for discolored teeth include excessive exposure to fluoride, some medications, genetics, teeth grinding, and tooth decay.
Types of products
Tooth whitening kits vary in the types of products used to whiten or bleach teeth.
Whitening gels: Kits containing gels sometimes include a toothpaste along with a whitening gel. Standalone whitening toothpastes are mildly abrasive to remove light surface stains and are minimally effective. Gels, on the other hand, when applied correctly, can achieve much better results. Most gels are designed to be used with trays and can be difficult to apply without them.
Whitening strips: This is a popular method for at-home teeth whitening. Whitening strips are convenient and simple to use. Simply attach the adhesive strip to your teeth anywhere from 15 minutes to overnight, depending on the manufacturer's directions. The chemicals on the strips break down stains with consistent use and whiten your teeth anywhere from two to four shades.
Kits with trays: Traditional whitening kits come with dental trays that are filled with a peroxide gel and applied to the teeth for about 20 minutes. This gel/tray system is similar to how dentists whiten teeth and can be effective when done correctly at home. A few sessions can brighten teeth four or more shades as well as remove stains.
Whitening mouthwashes: While mouthwashes formulated with low concentrations of hydrogen peroxide may have minimal effect, we've included them here because they can help keep teeth white between the above-listed treatments.
LED lights: Blue LED lights are featured in some teeth whitening kits and claim to speed up the bleaching action and efficacy of the peroxide. While some debate this claim, dentists similarly use UV light or lasers in their teeth-whitening procedures.
Activated charcoal: A new trend in tooth whitening is using activated charcoal to whiten teeth instead of chemical bleaching agents. Activated charcoal is a black powder made from a variety of natural sources, such as coconut shells. It's believed by its proponents to absorb toxins and eliminate stains. This claim, however, hasn't been approved by the American Dental Association.
Teeth whitening kit prices
At-home kits range in price from $20 to $80. Strips are priced at the lower end of this spectrum, and kits containing trays are at the higher end.
Q. What's the difference between at-home teeth whitening kits and whitening procedures performed by dentists?
A. Dentists use formulas with stronger peroxide for more immediate results. They also use customizable trays to fit your teeth as well as lasers and ultraviolet light. At-home whitening kits are a lot less expensive than these office visits, which can cost several hundred dollars. However, it can take longer to see results at home.
Q. What are the whitening agents used in teeth whitening kits?
A. Most whitening kits, with the exception of activated-charcoal products, use a peroxide to bleach teeth. They contain either carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide, which remove stains without harming tooth enamel. Activated charcoal has an abrasive texture that may reduce stains but also wear down tooth enamel.
Teeth whitening kits we recommend
Best of the best: Active Wow Teeth Whitening Premium Kit
Our take: A feature-laden whitening kit for professional-level results.
What we like: Complete with gels, trays, and an LED light for a dentist-office quality whitening at an affordable cost. Teeth whiten after three treatments. Includes remineralization gel.
What we dislike: Replacement trays aren't sold without having to buy an entire new kit.
Best bang for your buck: Crest 3D White Luxe Whitestrips Professional Effects Whitening Kit
Our take: Quick results for a fraction of the price of an in-office whitening.
What we like: Improved adhesive keeps strips firmly in place. Users see results in just a few days of use. Whitening results rival expensive dental procedures. Inexpensive.
What we dislike: Strips may not cover all of your visible teeth.
Choice 3: AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Kit
Our take: A gentle convenient whitening system with tray and LED light.
What we like: Combo top/bottom tray is easier to wear than two separate ones. Built-in timer. Gel doesn't cause sensitivity for majority of users.
What we dislike: Tray doesn't fit all mouth sizes.
Ana Sanchez is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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