Teeth Whiteners

Monday, 17 November 2008

The practice of home teeth whitening has evolved quickly over the past few years. We searched out options, interviewed dentists and put some teeth whiteners to the test.

The Basics

  • When it comes to brightening up your smile, you can try:

    • brush-on solutions

    • flexible strips that fold over your teeth

    • trays that fit your upper and lower sets of teeth (available in drugstores or custom-fit by your dentist)

    • professional bleaching at your dentist office.

  • Hydrogen peroxide is the active ingredient in teeth whiteners, typically found in concentrations between 2 – 10%. The higher the concentration the greater the whitening effect. 

  • Drugstore whiteners aren’t as strong as the solution used by your dentist. Realistically, don’t expect to go more than 2-3 shades lighter with drugstore products. 

  • For best results with drugstore whiteners, start whitening after you’ve had your teeth professionally cleaned by your dentist. 

  • Typically whitening lasts 6 to 12 months.

Other Considerations

  • Teeth stained by drugs (e.g. Tetracycline) have a grey-ish hue and typically do not respond to over-the-counter whiteners.

  • Crowns and bonding dental work are impervious to bleaching agents so talk to your dentist about your options in these cases.

Be Aware

  • Using higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide can result in increased tooth sensitivity. If this happens, stop using the product and use a fluoride rinse to help harden tooth enamel. If pain persists, talk to your dentist.

  • Over-bleaching can be detrimental to your teeth, causing brittleness and even cracking. These effects may not occur for 5-10 years however, so be make sure you follow your dentist’s recommendations.


We tested these drugstore whiteners for two weeks on people who depend a great deal on their smile – actors.


Our test products: .  
  • Colgate Simply White (night time brush on): $17
. .
  • Crest Night Effects (night time brush on): $22
. .
  • Crest White Strips (adhesive bleaching strips): $40
. . Well.ca
  • Natural White Pro (tray system): $40
. . Well.ca
  • Go Smile (brush on): $97
. . Drugstore.com

(Note: prices listed above are approximate and in Canadian dollars)

Usability Test

  • No one was a fan of Natural White’s tray system. The trays were uncomfortable and left you helplessly drooling. Some people felt it was so bad, it wasn’t worth the results.

  • The Crest Night Effects was somewhat unpleasant to use. One tester found it difficult to sleep with gooey teeth.

  • The Crest White Strips moved around a little bit, making them awkward to wear. But they weren’t as gooey and messy as the brush-ons or trays.

Whitening Test

Our dental expert, Dr. Jeffrey Norden, colour graded all of the testers before whitening began, and again afterwards for an accurate comparison.

  • The best results were for one of our testers who used the Natural White Pro with a 5 shade difference.

  • The expensive Go Smile product which promised 4-6 shades lighter, only recorded 0-1 shade differences amongst our testers.

  • Crest Night Effects users showed improvements

  • The Crest White Strips got the best results among our testers, with results from 3 to 4 shades lighter.


All of the whiteners we tested had their share of inconvenience, but the Crest White Strips won our vote for best results and for being the easiest to use.


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