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Teeth Whitening Kits - Do They Work, Are They Worth It?

Updated on July 3, 2009

There is no doubt about it... teeth whitening products are all the rage. It seems like no matter where you look, you see advertisements for teeth whitening products. Some of them are medical grade where you need to go and visit a dentist, others are "do it yourself", at-home teeth whitening kits, some of them are somewhere in between (like what you see at the mall), and there are some all natural, "brew your own concoction for teeth whitening with what you have in your kitchen cupboard" type ads. So what's up with all this focus on white teeth?

It's really no wonder when you think about it. Our society puts such a strong focus on celebrities and glamour magazine models, and even with most sports celebrities, all you see their are brilliant white smiles. So of course, everyone wants to have the same kind of smile. There's nothing wrong with it, in fact I think it's great. It does make for a very big and growing market for teeth whitener products and systems. The question is, what are the differences in how well do they work.

flickr image by Pink Sherbet Photography
flickr image by Pink Sherbet Photography

Speaking from just a little bit of experience I can tell you this. If you want to go the route of using the whitening strips that you buy over-the-counter, you're going to have to be very persistent. Not that there's anything wrong with that, simply don't expect to see any dramatic changes overnight. Some claim it will take about seven days to see a difference. In my experience it's been more like 14 days to see somewhat of a difference. Maybe someone with more stains would see more of a difference more quickly, I don't know. I also want to make it clear that I'm not discounting this approach whatsoever. I'm simply pointing out that you need to keep your expectations realistic.

What about those mall kiosk setups where you see people with blue lights shining in their mouth in the middle of a shopping center? I won't even comment on how bizarre I think this looks because I'm sure I'll get used to it. But again, the question is... does it work? In this instance, I cannot speak from direct personal experience. However, my curiosity did get the better of me when I saw someone getting up and leaving one of these setups recently.

flickr image by yngrich
flickr image by yngrich

I approached the woman and started a friendly conversation with her. I told her I was very curious about this approach to teeth whitening and wanted to know what her feeling was. She informed me that she had done this on several occasions over the past couple of years. She said she saw the greatest improvement after the first series of treatments and she figures that was because that was when her teeth wear the most stained. Since then, she has come back periodically and while the difference wasn't quite as dramatic, she still feels like she sees enough of a difference she plans to continue with this treatment indefinitely. I consider that a pretty good testimonial.

The next rung in the ladder of teeth whitener would be to go to a dentist. I have to imagine that this is the ultimate teeth whitening approach, and this is the route that my wife decided to go on a couple of years ago. One of her coworkers had highly recommended the treatment and my wife noticed dramatic difference in this woman's smile. I didn't feel like it was necessary, but I wasn't really in a stand in the way either. The plan was to run a series of treatments spread out over about three months. Before she got started she was warned that she might experience a bit of tooth sensitivity to these tooth whitening treatments. They weren't kidding...

flickr image  by James Jordan
flickr image by James Jordan

Making Beautiful Smiles

My wife is pretty tough. She's registered nurse and deals with a lot of challenging issues on a daily basis (present company excluded). However, when she returned home from her first treatment she was practically in tears. She vowed never to do such treatment again. She said her teeth were so sensitive that it hurt just to breathe and drinking anything even slightly above or below room temperature was a challenge for about two days. Fortunately for both of us, the discomfort tapered down after about three days just in time for our vacation.

From what I understand, this experience is unusual. Everyone I have spoken to, including my wife's coworker and a friend who is a dentist, assured me that while this is possible, it is unlikely. They also suggested that the actual dental center that treated my wife may have used incorrect mixtures of the teeth whitening gel. Whatever the case, don't let this one experience scare you off. It is the one exception to a whole host of positive responses that have been reported.

Finally, there is one other method of teeth whitening that you might want to consider. That is the all natural teeth whitening process. If you spend any time at all searching on the web, you'll find a whole host of different concoctions that presume to whiten teeth without "chemicals". One of the more amusing ones to me was the idea of taking the inside of an orange peel and rubbing it across your teeth. I give this a shot and to be honest, my teeth did look fairly shiny, but I'm not sure if they were any whiter. I think was more of a polish than a whitening.

There you have it...

So there you have it. A whole variety, a virtual cornucopia, of choices when it comes to finding the best teeth whitener for you. It's good to have choices because professional teeth whitening prices might be out of some peoples price range. On the other hand, at home teeth whitening kits might not feel professional enough for other people. No matter what suits you best, there are teeth whitening products that will meet your needs and help you achieve that brilliant, movie star smile that we all love so much.


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