Teeth Whitening Challenge

We can't find a soul who doesn't want whiter teeth. Good or bad, the market's flush with different at-home trays and strips, gels and pastes. We found a team of volunteers to test them out.

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Elizabeth Griffin/Hearst
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Crest 3D White 2-Hour Express Whitestrips

We convinced tester Annie to hop on the fast track to whiter teeth with Crest's super-charged strips. Similar in style and application to their earlier incarnations, these are designed to stay on the teeth for a full two hours. The extra time means they're working extra hard: Results are supposed to be visible immediately after and can last up to three months.

$28.65; amazon.com

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Elizabeth Griffin/Hearst
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The Results

A single application (worn throughout the Bachelorette season premiere, if you're asking) showed results right away. Still, no pain, no gain—Annie reported teeth sensitivity that lasted throughout the next day. Such side effects are common and not indicative of any serious problems.

The immediate whitening make these a perfect option for any last-minute events or invites, or a good choice for anyone too lazy to remember to use daily. Annie was pleased with the ease of getting the strips on, and said directions were easy to understand.

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Elizabeth Griffin/Hearst
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Luster 1-Hour White

Our gadget tester, Sarah, was initially sold on the cool light treatment aspect of this Luster best-seller. It uses a mouth rinse and whitening gel to prep the teeth and an activating light to get the ingredients working. Designed by a team of dentists, teeth can whiten up to six shades within an hour.

$44.99; amazon.com

teeth, smile
Elizabeth Griffin/Hearst
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The Results

Sarah happily reported she saw results and said she thinks they would have been even more noticeable if she'd been able to use it as many times as directed (packaging says 10-20 times in one sitting; she did six until her discomfort made her stop.)

The handheld light was user-friendly, automatically turning off after the prescribed 2-minutes. Sarah said the whitening solution was more of a challenge. Similar to a nail polish bottle, it required a steady hand and she was prone to getting some on her lips and gums, which resulted in a slightly stinging sensation. In general, she was one of our more pleased testers and said she'd definitely recommend the product to friends.

Elizabeth Griffin/Hearst
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Completely Bare Bleachbright

Our tester, Deanne, got the easiest treatment of all, sitting through twenty minutes of Completely Bare's in-spa Bleachbright system. A whitening agent is applied to the teeth before an LED light focuses in on the area being treated. The spa says it's pain-free and can brighten teeth up to eight shades.

$149; completely-bare.com

Elizabeth Griffin/Hearst
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The Results

Twenty minutes later, Deanne came back into the office with a noticeably whiter and brighter smile. She had only positive things to say about the full experience, including that it was easy, painless and, dare we say it, relaxing.

This treatment took the cake for giving the most noticeable results in the shortest amount of time, and was one of the few where the tester reported no sensitivity.

Elizabeth Griffin/Hearst
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Rembrandt 2-Hour Whitening Kit

Our next tester, Ashley, tried Rembrandt's new 2-hour kit and gave the ease of application rave reviews. Rather than traditional sticky strips that go on like tape, Rembrandt uses disposable trays similar to those used by dentists for in-office whitening procedures.

$13.99; amazon.com

Elizabeth Griffin/Hearst
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The Results

Ashley was dedicated to following directions (important if you want to get the promised results) and wore trays for 20-minutes at a time, four times over two hours. A seasoned user of generic brand whitening products, she was excited that the trays showed results after the first twenty minutes, but said that was also the most noticeable color change she detected.

She also reported slight teeth sensitivity but said it would not discourage her from using again or suggesting to friends.

Elizabeth Griffin/Hearst
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CVS 5-Minute Whitening Kit

The sole man in our study, Rob, volunteered after his dentist suggested he try some at-home whitening products. He was tasked with trying out a CVS-brand whitening kit. Here, a gel product is applied to the teeth via trays. Instructions say to use morning and night after brushing, with results visible after five minutes.

$5.99; cvs.com

Elizabeth Griffin/Hearst
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The Results

A pleased Robert reported that he felt no pain or discomfort, thought the tray was easy to use, and even noticed results after the first use. He said it was a great introduction to the world of whitening products, and he's excited to go back to his dentist and show off the results (and when is anyone happy to go the dentist?).

Elizabeth Griffin/Hearst
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Arm & Hammer Whitening Booster

When tester Stefanie begged for something easy, we handed her Arm & Hammer's latest whitening product. The gel is meant to be added to your regular fluoride toothpaste for a no-brainer application, and claims to contain three times the whitening agent than leading strips.

$3.72; amazon.com

Elizabeth Griffin/Hearst
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The Results

We gave Stefanie a week to use the paste (directions say to use for at least six weeks to see noticeable results). She reported seeing a slight improvement in her teeth's color and liked the ease of use enough to continue for the full tube.

Elizabeth Griffin/Hearst
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GO SMiLE Speed Whitening System

Our last tester, Leah, was attracted to GO SMiLE's speed system after reading that results are seen after completion of the four day system. A small tube of primer, followed by a small tube of the whitening agent, goes on morning and night. Unlike a tray or strip, the product dissolves on its own, and there's no need to do anything after the initial application.

$62.99; amazon.com

Elizabeth Griffin/Hearst
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The Results

Leah would wholeheartedly recommend this easy system over any other product she's ever tried. She saw a noticeable difference after the four days were up and felt no discomfort throughout. Without a tray or strip to contain it, the product did occasionally get on her lips and tongue during application, but it was easy to wipe away with a finger.

Leah was especially pleased with the way the product dissolved naturally. "I'd put on in the morning after brushing my teeth, walk out the door and 20 minutes later when I arrived at work, it was gone!"

 

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