Over the last year, we’ve spent more face-to-face time with ourselves than any of us ever wanted. In the tiny box of a Zoom call, it can be easy to nit pick even the tiniest of details about ourselves - some rational, some less so.
If it’s the tint of your teeth that is causing you stress then you’re in luck, there are at-home whitening treatments that rival that of a professional and will help give you a confidence boost. With non-essential appointments cancelled, our collective gnashers could use some care and attention, so these are products that won’t cause more harm than good.
It’s easier than ever to take a proactive approach to your teeth care and encourage you to smile proud and wide. There are so many different types of products on the market including strips, trays and pens with a range of durability and to suit those with all levels of sensitivities. But before we get onto that, we’ve consulted two experts - leading celebrity dentist and founder of teeth whitening brand, Millionaire Smile, Dr Robbie Hughes and Dr Jeffrey Sulitzer, SmileDirectClub’s Chief Dental Officer - to find out everything you need to know about teeth whitening.
What causes discoloration of teeth?
Dr Jeffrey Sulitzer explains that it’s the food and drink that we consume as “the most common causes for teeth discoloration. In particular, coffee, tea and wine.”
Dr Robbie Hughes breaks it down further revealing that there are two types of staining; extrinsic and intrinsic where “extrinsic stains originate on the surface of the teeth, intrinsic dental stains come from within.
“Extrinsic stains can be yellow or brown in colour, but they can also be grey or white. These stains can be caused by drinking dark beverages like red wine, cola, coffee and tea or eating teeth-staining food like berries and highly pigmented sauces or curries. The number one cause of staining is smoking or chewing tobacco. This type of staining usually can be removed with a good oral hygiene routine and a good whitening toothpaste
“Intrinsic stains usually require in-practice solutions or prescribed peroxide whitening. These may form from fluorosis (this usually occurs when a young child is exposed to too much fluoride), the use of the antibiotic tetracycline, and pulpitis, the inflammation of the dental pulp. A build-up of plaque can also attract staining, therefore to help prevent all types of staining, we always recommend having regular appointments at least twice a year with your dentist or hygienist.”
Are home treatments effective?
Dr Hughes: “Each treatment works in different ways, the best method in terms of results is always an at home professional kit prescribed by your dentist, as the mouth trays are moulded to your teeth.Whereas when using pens, and strips, the saliva may make its way underneath the formulation and neutralise the whitening agent. We would also recommend speaking to your dentist first who will be able to recommend the best application or solution for you.”
How does professional teeth whitening work?
Dr Hughes: “In simple terms, there are two types of peroxide we use to whiten the teeth; carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide. Peroxide works by oxygenating the tooth, which will break away the staining. This molecule changes how the light reflects off the tooth, making the tooth whiter.”
Are their downsides to teeth whitening?
Dr Jeffrey Sulitzer: “I wouldn’t say there were any downsides to teeth whitening, however it is important that you are a good candidate before going ahead. If you have fillings, bonding, or veneers on your front teeth, we would advise against whitening your teeth. This is because using teeth whitening with bonding or fillings may discolour your teeth further!
Dr Hughes: “The downside to whitening professionally is that sensitivity may occur. This is a very common symptom with whitening, however it is temporary and it is manageable. If you do experience pain or sensitivity, do contact your dentist who will be able to provide advice or treatment. If you are someone who does suffer extreme sensitivity with peroxide whitening treatments, a PAP whitening kit may be a better alternative as they contain 0 per cent peroxide meaning no pain or sensitivity.
“At-home or over-the-counter non-peroxide whitening treatments can be extremely effective when used properly, yet peroxide (prescribed) treatments are stronger which usually leads to strong results over a shorter period of time.”
What ingredients should you be looking out for in teeth whitening treatments?
Dr Jeffrey Sulitzer: “I recommend using at-home whitening products that contain hydrogen peroxide, as that’s the whitening agent that gives the best results. It penetrates the enamel to reach the discoloured molecules inside your tooth. Once hydrogen peroxide is applied to the tooth surface, it passes easily and quickly through tooth enamel, resulting in much whiter teeth.”
Dr Hughes: “We always recommend using a fluoride toothpaste as it helps prevent tooth decay by slowing the breakdown of enamel and increasing the rate of the remineralization process. Hydroxyapatite is a great ingredient also as it helps whiten the teeth, reduces tooth sensitivity, offers pain relief and helps fight both infections and cavities, whilst also remineralizing and repairing teeth.”
Shop the best teeth whitening products by type below.
Teeth whitening trays and blue light
Rapid White - Blue Light Tooth Whitening System
Easy and effective, this encompassing set from Rapid White packs in everything you need to whiten your teeth by up to five shades so you can have the pearly whites of your dream - and in just two weeks, but you’ll notice impressive results after just a few uses. The kit uses light-activated technology and so comes with an accelerator solution, the gel itself, the blue light and a rinse to get rid of the gloopy feeling. It can be used on those with sensitive gnashers as it is free from peroxide.
MySmile Teeth Whitening Kit
The is the top rated teeth-whitening set on Amazon with over 1,500 reviews that boast about the fast-acting results where you’ll be able to see the effects in just one use. Even those with sensitivities note the ability to use this product without any pain (the formula is peroxide-free). There are nine treatments packed into the box where each syringe should see you through three and the blanching gives you up to 10 shades brighter and whiter without damaging your teeth’s natural enamel. Place the formula into the tray and place it into your mouth. The device beeps every 10 minutes to give you ultimate control over your teeth whitening experience.
Stylsmile Whitening Tray
Like the product above, the Stylsmile tray has three syringes and a blue light accelerator to speed up your teeth whitening time. You only need to keep the formula on for 15 minutes and you’ll see your gnashers shine two shades brighter in just six days. Tea or coffee addicts - this one’s for you.
Total Whitening System
This teeth whitening set from Swiss Clinic works without the need for LED lights but this does mean that you need to use the product for longer. To customise the treatment to your teeth, you first set the mouthguard by placing it in hot water and then in your mouth so it moulds to the exact shape of your teeth. Next you apply the gel from the syringe and you keep it in for 45 minutes - and then an additional 15 or 20 after that for follow ups. It is delicate enough that you can use it daily until you achieve your sought-after results. This pack will see you through 18 treatments and has a long-lasting result. This set comes with the Teeth Whitening Pen too to give real bang for your buck.
Mr Bright LED Teeth Whitening Kit with Case
For the time poor, you only need to set aside 10 minutes to make the most of the whitening benefits of this kit. It combines the power duo of a LED tray and gel which you place directly into your mouth. If you want a more intense treatment, it beeps every 10 minutes so depending on the shade you are looking for, you can keep going up to four times. It works best when used on consecutive days to which six in a row is recommended by the brand.
iWhite Instant 2 Professional Teeth Whitening Kit (10 Trays)
As a whole, teeth whitening kits make a lot of seemingly wild claims that are difficult to live up to but this product from iWhite lives up to its end of the bargain to both remove stains and protect your soon-to-be pearly whites at the same time. The brand uses a specialised FFC (Filmo-crystallized calcium) technology with clinically proven success - up to eight shades whiter if you use 20 minutes a day with 10 trays included.
Blanx O3x Supreme White Trays
Blanx is doing all the work for us to make this the easiest teeth whitening process imaginable. The trays - 10 in total - have been prefilled to give you the perfect dose in order to make your teeth four shades whiter in 5 days. While staying kind and gentle on your gums and enamel, it uses the power of oxygen for a professional-like treatment. As the gel is laid on by the brand, it gives an even spread to prevent patchiness.
Millionaire Smile Teeth Whitening Kit
This all in one kit comprises of everything you need for an effective teeth whitening. The brand was founded by leading celebrity dentist Dr Robbie Hughes where all the products are clinically proven, vegan and developed using his extensive expertise. They contain no harsh ingredients and no peroxide but still make great strides to help you achieve the pearly whites of your dreams. This kit is made up of a UV light and gel where almost all reported results of two shades whiter after just six days - and best of all, it only takes up to three minutes with each use. Speedy and effective.
Teeth whitening strips
Smile Science Professional Teeth Whitening Strips
While trays may feel like you’re a professional dentist in the comfort of your own home, strips are undoubtedly easier and less fiddly. As you will expect, you peel them off the backing and place directly onto your teeth. Smile Science provides a 14-day treatment in this pack and the strips themselves stick well and mould to the shape of your teeth with a design fit for the top and bottom set and without igniting sensitivities.
Spotlight Oral Care Teeth Whitening System
Watch your teeth get whiter before your very eyes with Spotlight Oral Care and its Teeth Whitening System. This set contains double the blanching power with both a 14-day treatment in strip form and toothpaste to only enhance their effects. The strips use hydrogen peroxide that gently removes staining and should be applied for an hour everyday for two weeks, while the twice-daily use of the paste combines this ingredient with sodium fluoride to polish and protect.
Billion Dollar Teeth Whitening Strips x 28
Contrary to what the name suggests, a Billion Dollar Smile need not cost you an arm and a leg. This brand has got you covered with a Hollywood-worthy set of pearly whites that is actually a pleasant experience. This is mostly down to the fact that the strips have a subtle mint flavouring and only need to be worn for 15-30 minutes to still work effectively. They don’t include peroxide in the formula but still give immediate results, leaving your teeth significantly whiter especially when used daily for two weeks.
Rapid White Express Sensitive 5 Minute Dissolving Tooth Whitening Strips
Teeth whitening strips have got smart over at Rapid White with an innovative formula where the strips actually dissolve to ensure the optimal treatment that is safe and controlled. As you’d expect, these strips are super thin and almost transparent in appearance. They don’t contain peroxide or leave gloopy gel remnants, all while sticking well to the teeth, removing stains and freshening your breath with the minty taste.
Teeth whitening pens
Glo32 Teeth Whitening System
If you’re unsure which type of teeth whitening product you prefer, Glo32 offers this pack that has both strips and a stilo. The strips are a 20-30 minute treatment, while the pen should be left for around 10-20 minutes. Both need a few applications in order to see the best results where the pen can even be used multiple times a day.
Wisdom Intense White Instant Whitening Pen
A teeth whitening pen gives you greater control over your treatment where you can target individual gnashers if needed. It has more of a paint brush applicator than a pen where you lather the gel, covering the teeth as needed. The most challenging part is trying not to close your mouth in the one minute directly after applying but when used persistently, Wisdom’s pen makes for an easy way to put confidence back into your smile.
Moon Kendall Jenner Teeth Whitening Pen
Kendall Jenner has teamed up with Shaun Neff - the founder of Moon - to create a supermodel-worthy teeth whitening treatment in the form of this pen. The chic black packaging means that this is not an eyesore in your bathroom but not all style over substance, it is a great product for a quick-fix stain removal. It uses a blend of antioxidants like lavender oil, strawberry extract and honeysuckle flower extract to prevent causing further sensitivities and should be brushed directly onto teeth. The formula has a vanilla-mint taste, which is very welcomed particularly as the brand suggests for eating or drinking for 30 minutes after applying.
UltraDEX Daily Oral Rinse Whitening
So this may not be a pen but we couldn’t help but include it in our roundup. Adding more steps into your regime may not be the most welcoming of ideas so this daily rinse can be used like a mouthwash as it not only whitens your smile but also removes bad breath compounds to leave you smelling fresh for 12 hours. It contains fluoride so also protects your teeth, while enhancing the look of your pearly whites.