Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Review: Crest Whitestrips

For many years I had perfectly white teeth. They were so white that they were whiter than the lightest color on the little paper the dental hygienists used to determine teeth discoloration. The reason for my supernaturally white teeth had nothing to do with my genes or flossing habits, but because for 20 years I never drank pop, tea, coffee or red wine and never smoked, the products that have been shown to discolor teeth. In essence, my teeth were pearly white virgins.

But all that changed last year when I discovered just how much easier my life was with the addition of caffeine, when Earl Grey became my drug of choice. 9 AM classes were suddenly tolerable, while writing for 3 straight hours was almost a breeze with a never-ending cup of tea by my side. I'll start drinking tea when I wake up and just keep refilling the cup until lunch, not including the green tea I like to have after dinner. I'd guess I average between 4 and 8 cups of tea a day.

I hadn't thought about any negative side effects of my new habit until I had my annual checkup at the dentist, when the hygienist asked when I started drinking coffee once I'd settled in the chair. "Black tea," I replied. "You should think about whitening, you've got some overall discoloration and a few noticeable stains," she said. Unwilling to shell out a few hundred for professional whitening, I vowed to try the drugstore alternative.

When I came home, I found a box of unopened Crest Whitestrips hiding in the back of my cabinet. "Score!" I thought, "I've just saved $25." I began using the strips twice daily as directed, and didn't notice any of the gum or teeth discomfort that they'd warned about on the box. After about 3 days I was noticing a decrease in the staining and a general lightening effect, maybe half a shade or so. I should mention that my teeth weren't very stained or dark, they were just a couple shades darker than usual, and with my pale skin, it was becoming more visible.

After 5 days of using the strips, I accidentally knocked over the box and noticed the expiration date on the bottom of the package. For some reason, it never occurred to me to check for an expiration date, but there it was- 03/28/2004. "2004!" I thought, "These strips were probably produced before I started high school!" To assuage my fears that I could have been poisoning myself with peroxide gone bad, I did a Google search and found that expired Whitestrips are safe, just less effective as time goes on. God bless the internet.


I decided that if I wanted the real deal, I should just go out and buy a new box, which I did. Not surprisingly, the new strips were far more effective than the expired ones. One day of using them and I noticed more of a difference than the previous 5 days. Unfortunately, I could also feel them working, as they burned my gums and made them far more sensitive to brushing. Still, the pain was tolerable, and encouraged by the progress I'd made, I stuck with them for another week, taking a break once to let my gums heal. Crest recommends using them for 2 full weeks, but I was able to get rid of all my stains and discoloration after 7 days of use, so I decided to stop there.

Overall, I was very impressed by the results I saw, and I'd recommend the product to anyone who wants whiter teeth but doesn't need the full dentist whitening. After a couple days of not using the strips, my gums are healing and are becoming less sensitive. If you do experience sensitivity, I've read that it helps to stagger treatments (every other day instead of every day, etc) and to use a sensitive toothpaste like Sensodyne. Also, Crest offers a number of different strengths of Whitestrips, including Premium and Premium Plus, which are more expensive than the "Classic" formula and promise to work faster. I haven't tried them, but unless you've found the regular version to be too weak, I'd recommend skipping the pricier formulas.

Anyone else have experience with other whitening products? I've always been curious about the GoSmile kits at Sephora and the numerous whitening toothpastes on the market.

15 comments:

Kori said...

I once got about 10 free samples of the little scrubby things that come in the GoSmile kits at Sephora (I guess the Sephora employee was in a good mood). They definitely made my teeth a bunch whiter, and I imagine that if I had more than 10 of the things it would have whitened my teeth a great deal.

Kori said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Ive been using crest white strips to no avail! my teeth, used to be really white too and my brother was making fun of em actually, saying they arent half as nice as they used to be. Im open to suggestions!

Kelly Mahoney said...

I did the older whitestrips, back when you had to wear them overnight. They really worked, but they also made my teeth super sensitive. I'd imagine that if you want to get serious results without being in pain, you have to use some sort of special toothpaste before hand so you don't develop any pain.

ashley churchill said...

oh god!i tried crest whitestrips about a year ago and they made my gums start to fall apart. like literally. it was horrible. i stopped after a few days, but damage was done. i have crazy sensitive teeth/gums, so i'm sure my experience isn't the norm. just thought i should share.

Anonymous said...

I have sensitive teeth/gums. When I used to use the Whitestrips, it was crazy painful, and I'm just vain enough to endure it. My dentist said to use any sensitive teeth toothpaste for a couple of days beforehand and then all the time you're whitening, and voila, no pain, pretty, white teeth. I used the Aquafresh trays and wasn't terribly impressed, pros and cons to both the trays and the strips. Now I'm kinda interested in the Listerine dissolvable doohickeys. Anyone with any experience with those?

Divina said...

Glad to find this product review since I've been thinking of buying them to use as maintenance between the gel treatments I get from my dentist. Also a little warning: Don't drink tea, coffee, whine or smoke for a full hour after using them as this makes teeth more prone to deep staining due to the peroxide making them sensitive during that period.

Best,
Divina

jeni - savvy skin said...

I've used Crest Whitestrips before, and have had some success with them. I've definitely noticed that they made my teeth whiter. The only problem is that some of my teeth got whiter than others! So that was sort of annoying. I might try them again soon, though, because I drink coffee, or tea, every day. I've tried some paint on whitening products that haven't worked at all, and I haven't tried GoSmile.

Anonymous said...

DD is a Dental hygenist. She replies: "Dr.'s version is an excelleration of what a CWS would do. Factor the cost of the office visit, plus the treatment, plus the cost of the extra bleaching trays that will be sent home to maintain the whitening and you are looking at quite a sum. CWS (CWS brand has the highest % of effective bleach allowed by the FDA)are about $40 and will do the exact same job over three days. ALL treatments will produce the maximum brightening within the first 20 minutes, after that it just sits on your teeth. You need to be careful of where the bleach is applied. If it sits on your gums it will bleach the gum also and cause damage if left on too long. You gum may be discolored, but should return to normal after a day or so. Sensitvity will be a person to person thing, use Sensodine to relieve the pain. Check the 'use by' dates for maximum effectiveness. Some teeth may continue to look 'stained' but may in fact be due to genetics, race (Sorry but the paler the natural skin tone the more yellow the teeth), a result of certain medicines, and other factors which cannot be reversed with bleaching.

Anonymous said...

Dear Meg,

I'm going abroad to London for a semester, and I want to look chic and sharp. One thing I'm particularly concerned about is having a good trenchcoat that is both stylish and at least rain resistant. Do you have any suggestions (where to look, specific ideas)? I love colors, esp. red. Your style is totally classy and often extremely affordable, and I admire it a lot, so I would love your advice.

Thanks so much!

Elizabeth said...

While eBay can be shady for certain cosmetic puchases, I HIGHLY recommend them for Crest white stips. You can pick up a fresh-from-the-crate, shrink-wrapped box for half the price of drugstore strips.

Teek said...

Dear Anonymous in London, I hope Meg answers your question but as someone who's lived in London for a few years, anytime between say, December and March, you will want something warmer than a trench coat, I suggest a wool pea coat or similar. The cold wet wind makes the temperatures seem cooler than they really are. Maybe a thinsulate lined trench would do. You'll want something that hits no higher than your hips, mid-thigh is most popular - a waist length jacket does no one any good in a 35 degree , 35mph mist blowing up your skirt wind tunnel.

Red would be very distinctive and appropriate, though most people do wear black in the fall/winter, or sometimes khaki in the spring and summer. Get something as high of quality you can afford - places are often irregularly heated so you will end up wearing your coat constantly - it will become your signature piece, like it or not!

I loooove the jackets and coats over at http://www.tulle4us.com/ - fun and classy and affordable. This red coat is exactly what i'd suggest: http://www.tulle4us.com/shop/shop_detail.asp?xtitle=&title=jacket&season=&p_idx=265&nPageNo=1

Meg said...

Teek- Thanks for your answer, you have great suggestions. I've written up a Friday Finds post on trench coats and I'll have it up next Friday. Anonymous- if you'd like me to get it to you sooner, just e-mail me.

BellaCarmelle said...

I've actually used the Target brand of whitestrips and they work just as good as the CWS.... They're a few bucks cheaper, too!!!

Anonymous said...

My dentists sells an extremely effective, extremely chic whitening pen. It looks like lip gloss kinda but its a gel you brush on your teeth. It has a whitening solution and has mint extract for breath. Its a gold pen that has a clicker on one end sooo cute. go to Sutrads.com I think you can order there.